A penalty in the final minute of the Pommery Archie David Cup Final ensured that Hilali Noordeen's Sifani team won this prestigious eight-goal competition. The odds were stacked against this new team. Sifani, from the first though as their opponents were the talented Las Estrellas team, who had impressed everyone in the three weeks of tough competition that is always a hallmark of the Pommery Archie David Cup.
The form guide was not wrong throughout much of the match either. Sifani were 4-2 down at half-time in this four chukka game, with Gareth Evans on great form for Las Estrellas. In addition, Sifani's Ryan Pemble, who was later named Man of the Match, was suffering from quite a severe-looking head injury after he caught a stick above his right eye. However polo players are a tough breed and after some extensive bandaging he returned to the field of play.
Sifani began to slowly close the gap in the third, with Pemble converting penalties and Roddy Matthews winning several tough ride offs against Evans. So with the score at 5-4 to Las Estrellas going into the final chukka there was still all to play for. Pemble began this period of play by successfully converting a penalty to level the score and then, with less than a minute left on the clock, he converted a second penalty. This gave Sifani the lead for the first time in the match and when the bell rang seconds later it ensured them victory.
Las Estrellas's Nick Pepper received the Best Playing Pony Prize from Sara Hicks of the competition's new sponsor Vranken-Pommery Monopole. This was for the 10-year-old English Thoroughbred Leo, whom Nick had played in the first chukka.
The subsidiary final for the Caterham Cup was a more one-sided affair. Jonathan Munro Ford's Black Eagles overwhelmed Kassem Shafi's Shalimar 6-2 thanks to some fast paced and exciting play from Jonny Good and Daniel Otamendi. It was good to see both teams fielding a young player, with 15-year-olds Sebastian Hancock and Jack Hyde both giving good accounts of themselves on The Queen's Ground at Smith's Lawn in this match. And with the young Tommy Beresford playing well for Las Estrellas in the final itself, all three players are great advert for the depth of talent coming up through the ranks in British polo.
This year's Caterham Cup Final was also a great example of why every game counts in the highly competitive Pommery Archie David Cup. Black Eagles had impressed all in the majority of their matches, but one disappointing result saw them knocked out of the main Pommery Archie David and into the subsidiaries. With 22 teams entereing this leading 8-goal competition a team can never afford a bad game, which is why the teams always consider this competition one of the toughest to win.
Sifani: Hilali Noordeen (-1); Alex Jacob (1); Roddy Matthews (3); Ryan Pemble (5). Las Estrellas: Tommy Beresford (0); Nick Pepper (3); Gareth Evans (6); Ray Fines (-1).
Black Eagles: Jonathan Munro Ford (-1); Sebastian Hancock (0); Jonny Good (5); Daniel Otamendi (4). Shalimar: Jack Hyde (-1); Kassem Shafi (0); Nicolas Antinori (4); Vieri Antinori (5).
The winning Sifani team with Sara Hicks of Pommery and the historic Archie David Cup (Images of Polo)