Ladies take centre stage at Cowdray polo finals

A record 14 teams entered the Hurlingham Polo 1875 British ladies' polo championships at Cowdray Park.

The 18-goal final teams / Picture by Clive Bennett -
The 18-goal final teams / Picture by Clive Bennett -

To cope with the high number of entries, the club set two handicap levels, 18-goal handicap and 12-goal level.

A high standard of polo was seen throughout the tournaments, which ran through the final week of the King Power Gold Cup for the British Open Polo Championship, the ladies’ finals being played at the Lawns grounds on the same weekend as the men, in another first for Cowdray Park.

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In the final of the 18-goal championship, Dodson and Horrell with Jenny Doherty (one goal) at number one, Saffron Hutchinson (three goals) at No2, Hannah Henderson (four goals) at No3 and Nina Clarkin (ten goals) at back met Maitha Al Maktoum’s UAE polo team with Catalina Ayerza (one goal) at No2, Milly Sanchez (for Mia Cambiaso) at No3, and Candelaria Fernandez-Araujo (eight goals) at back.

Opening honours went to Clarkin putting 1-0 on the scoreboard for Dodson and Horrell within the first minute of play. An infringement then gave a penalty to Dodson and Horrell which Clarkin sent between the posts from 40 yards to make it 2-0, Fernandez-Araujo making a neat field goal before the chukka ended on 2-1 in favour of D&H.

In chukka two, a good pass from Fernandez-Araujo enabled Milly Sanches to score for UAE and equalise at 2-2. But the team gave away a spot penalty to Dodson and Horrell who then also profited from a 30-yard shot between the posts by Clarkin and Dodson and Horrell were ahead 4-2 to close the chukka.

Fast free-flowing action continued through chukka three although UAE failed to score and Dodson and Horrell’s only goal came from a 40-yard penalty, making the score 5-2 in Dodson and Horrell’s favour.

The fourth chukka opened with UAE showing increased confidence and determination. A super goal came from Ayerza. UAE Polo Team won the ball from the throw-in with Sanchez blazing away towards the Dodson & Horrell goal.

On she went without hindrance to score her second goal of the match and UAE had pulled up to within a goal of Dodson & Horrell.

Clarkin sent a mighty shot forward from a free hit but the ball went out to the right. In possession of the ball once more, she passed it forward, caught up and tried again, but again found the goalmouth elusive.

Dodson & Horrell fought off any advance from UAE and finally held on to their lead to win the 18 goal Hurlingham Polo 1875 British Ladies Championship on a score of 5-4.

Simon Hawkins, CEO of Hurlingham Polo 1875, presented the handsome silver salver to Clarkin, captain of the Dodson & Horrell team, and prizes of leisurewear to all players.

The best playing pony award went to Milly, owned and ridden by Candelaria Fernandez-Araujo. Aurora Eastwood presented the MVP prize of bespoke leather jodhpur boots from the Spanish Boot Company to Sanchez of UAE Polo. A new prize for Horsemanship sponsored by Royal Salute and Husk was presented to Clarkin by Aurora Eastwood.

In the 12-goal British ladies’ handicap championship, Ibiza comprising Elicia Murphy at No1, Angela Walker at two, Rebecca Walters at three and Sarah Wiseman at back met Aveda, with Ann Marie Cavanagh playing at one, Angela Robb at two, Lucy Coddington at three and Rosie Ross at back.

Coddington made the first mark on the scoreboard for Areda who finished the first chukka half a goal ahead. After that Ibiza gained and retained the lead, finishing a lively match 6-4½ ahead.

Simon Hawkins presented gifts from Hurlingham Polo 1875’s leisure range to all players and Walters’ Baronessa was awarded the prize for best playing pony.

Sarah Wiseman was delighted to receive the most valuable player award of bespoke leather jodhpur boots from the Spanish Boot Company presented by Aurora Eastwood. Coddington won the prize for horsemanship.