ZACARA WINS GOLD CUP IN THRILLING FINAL
Cowdray Park, Midhurst, West Sussex 17 July 2011
Story Alberto van der Mye +44(0)7703 559 625 Photography Clive Bennett
Horrific rain did not diminished a superb polo final for the most important high goal polo match in Europe for the legendary & prestigious Cowdray Park Gold Cup as Zacara edged out by the minimum difference Jo Gotschalk's Les Lions Polo Team led by the brilliant duet of Sebastian & Tincho Merlos in a 12-11 heartbreaker. Much credit has to be given to the excellent field management of the Cowdray Park Polo Club staff for preparing the polo field despite the torrential rain, furthermore everyone at Cowdray Park Polo Club contributed to a great day of polo & the highlight of the English high goal season .
Zacara jumped to a quick 2-0 lead on the back of super fast number 1 Gonzalo Deltour along with Facu Sola of Queen's Cup winner Talandracas the most exciting new players this polo season . The game strategy was the three young lions of Zacara : Deltour, Ulloa & de Plessis versus the double Merlos powerhouse of Les Lions. 5-5 in the third chukka in what was becoming a fast and furious battle. After half time the Merlos duet took control after expert penalty shooting by Tincho Merlos , going into the final sixth chukka it looked like Les Lions a very popular team would lift the Gold Cup. The young lions of Zacara exploded with excellent runs taking the lead for the first time 11-10 during the second half. The Argentine maestro of Tincho Merlos converted to put Les Lions ahead again when both Deltour & du Plessis scored again for 12-11 to win the Gold Cup. Sadly for the very well mounted & organised Les Lions team who have been trying to win the coveted title for nearly 20 years.
Has the torch passed to a new generation from the Merlos Brothers to Ulloa- du Plessis - DelTour ? NOT YET !! I have to disclose a huge prejudice in favor of the Merlos & Gotschalk family as Cacho Merlos father of the boys is a very old friend and their uncle "Ruso" Merlos taught me to play polo nearly 40 years ago . Ruso was a Cowdray character if there ever was one : arriving at Midhurst age 15 in 1950 with the great Charlie Mentiteguy the Cambiaso of another era. In addtion the Gotschalk's are great friends due to our love of dogs particularly labradors and my dog "Santo" the friendly labrador is the good luck piece for the Les Lions polo team !! In my admitted biased view Sebastian Merlos ( BTW- now England's newest 10 goal player) and Tincho Merlos would have beaten Zacara 9 out of 10 times under dry conditions. Sebastian Merlos is not like Formula1's Fernando Alonso who can change to rain tyres on his Ferrari and win the cup, the Merlos duet play a fast, brilliant & precise passing game that was ruined by the wet polo ground preventing passing at full speed.
Zacara's Gonzalo Deltour was MVP & next day was raised to the 7 goal rating. Best playing pony honors went Ulloa's lovely " Nube" presented by Mrs. Charles Pearson . Agustin Merlos won "Veuve Cliquot" yellow saddle as the highest scorer of the entire British Open.
The Merlos Boys & Jo Gotschalk will be back !!
Sabina Belli, General Manager International Veuve CLicquot and Jo
Thornton, MD Moet Hennessy, with the winning team Zacara.
Elsa Corbineau, Brand Director Veuve Clicquot, presents the bespoke
yellow saddle to Agustin Merlos - the highest goal scorer of the British