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Park Place and Valiente secure Cartier semi-final tickets 9th June 2018

The holders of the Cartier Queen’s Cup were knocked out of the competition this morning by an in-form Park Place, playing in this tournament for the first time. Both teams produced some running play in the first, but failed to score at all. RH Polo made amends in the second, firing though three goals – two penalties from Guillermo Caset and a field goal from Rodrigo de Andrade – giving them a comfortable three-goal advantage at the start of the third.

Those with their money on Ben Soleimani’s team must have felt any bets might be safe. Park Place quickly put paid to that idea – with Juan Britos starting the third with a penalty and then firing through a field goal. This chukka closed with an amazing goal from the Park Place patron, Andrey Borodin. It was of a quality that his pros would have been proud of. So at half-time it was all square, 3-3, and everything to play for.

The second half very much belonged to Park Place, firing through six goals to only one in reply from RH Polo. Borodin produced another stunning goal, successfully weaving his way through traffic to score in the fourth. His 10-goaler Hilario Ulloa added to the tally in this chukka and Britos confirmed the team’s supremacy by adding another three to the mix in the final two periods of play. The secret of Park Place’s success today was team-work. All four players worked well together and although Tommy Beresford might not have found the flags, he backed up Ulloa beautifully and worked hard at keeping Andrade out of the game.

The focus moved to the Duke's Ground in the afternoon for the second quarter-final match. This was a great game, packed with drame, tension and some of the biggest shots in the tournament so far. With Valiente 1-0 up the game stopped following a heavy fall by Talandracas's Julian de Lusarreta, who appeared to collide with Valiente's Adolfo Cambiaso. The lattter got to his feet after a while - both horses had laready cantered back to the pony lines unhurt - but Lusarreta remained on the ground. The Club's ambulance service tended to him on the field before he went to hospital - although reports coming through by the end of the game were that he was OK.

The commentator then announced that Juan Gris Zavalata – who had been playing for the Clinova team in this year’s tournament – would take the injured player’s place. There was some surprise when it was also announced that he would have to sit out the first two minutes of the restart due to Lusarreta’s double yellow due to the foul on Cambiaso. This may have seemed harsh, but if Lusarreta had been able to play he would have been awarded this same penalty. Rob Jornayvaz’s Valiente, in a most sporting gesture, decided not to play these two minutes competitively and the spectators were treated to a spot of high-goal stick and balling!

As soon as the time-out had elapsed though this game was very much back on. Valiente’s Hugo Lewis made it 2-0 in the second only for Francisco Elizalde to win a horse race against Cambiaso to take it to 2-1. Cristian Laprida, who had scored Valiente’s opening goal, found the flags again before the bell, giving them 3-1 on the scoreboard at the start of the third. Not surprisingly with such talent on the field, this continued to be a tight game with Alejandro Muzzio producing some fantastic play for Talandracas, giving them the lead for the first time in the fourth chukka (5-4). In football they give credits for assists – those that help set up goals – and that definitely applied to Muzzio today.

With the score reading 7-7 at the start of the fifth, few would have bet against extra time. Tensions though started to appear and the game became scrappier, with more whistles and penalties. Elizalde sent a 60-yard penalty wide in this chukka and many asked if that was the turning point of the game. Then, with the scoreboard registering 9-8 to Valiente and the first bell having rung, Cambiaso did what he is famed for – produced a run a goal out of nowhere to score, giving Valiente a valuable, two-goal cushion (10-8) going into the sixth. Plenty of whistles in this period and both teams struggling to get themselves free. Then some lovely Talandracas team-work resulted in team patron Hugues Carmignac closing the gap once more, but no more time to repeat the feat. So it is Valiente that will play Park Place on Wednesday on semi-finals day.

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