Heat and Horse Power
Updated: Aug 18, 2020
A light rainfall on Friday helped prepare the field for the weekend games of the Swiss Medium Goal at Polo Park Zurich 13-16th August - certainly a highlight in the Swiss Polo Season, with four teams competing for the trophy. The rain, however, didn't result in a drop in temperature and games at the weekend were played under extremely warm conditions.The games on Thursday and Friday failed to produce a favourite and so we all anticipated close encounters on the Saturday.
We were not disappointed! The first game was between Los Lobos, with our host, Sébastian Le Page leading his team of Thommy Gräff, Martin Podesta and Markus Gräff onto the field and setting up a paced attack against Team G-Squared. G-Squared proved to be a match for this and both Eva Brühl and Walter Cortez with competent assistance from teammates Richard Harris and Thomas Wolfensberger had the potential to light up the game with their display of speed and controlled aggression. With the score at 7-7 at the end of the 4th chukker, umpires Martin Fewster and Mark Holmes explained we needed a result and that the game would go into extra time. It was Los Lobos who pushed in that golden goal and put themselves into the finals.
Jockeying for their position in Saturday's second game were the teams Equilibrium and Cardo Polo. Equilibrium with our hostess Morgan Van Overbroek, Daniel Aegerter, Joaquin Copello and Milos Ruszkowski, quickly broke through Cardo's defenses and put themselves on the score board within the first chukker. It took until the 4th chukker for the momentum to swing in the opposite direction as Cardo, with Ann Meier and Markus Oggenfuss sharing a position, Laurenz Gabrin, Christopher Kiesel, and Patricio Gaynor, put in 2 quick goals, but time had run out. Equilibrium were able to hold their lead of 4-2 1/2 and secure their place in Sunday's final.
A South American flair welcomed the spectators at the hospitality tent with tasty empanadas served by Gaucho Gaonzález, Marco setting up his cigar lounge and Equadorian Panama Hats luring both men and women to peruse under their shade. A touch of Argentinian lifestyle was provided by Nia at Cortez Polo and a soothing summer beat by DJ Zoë.
First up on the field were teams G-Squared vs Cardo. Patricio Gaynor and Christopher Kiesel of Cardo, could be seen deep into conversation at the pony lines before the game. They had a plan! However, it was G-Squared who got the better of the first throw-in, with Walter Cortez powering down the field on Masita and converting a penalty 6 "safety sixty." Time for Cardo's plan to kick in and Christopher Kiesel collected the ball on the marvelous Minette to burst clear and score. Minutes later Ann Meier picked up the cut shot from Chris and put the ball between the posts. Cardo had the edge and managed to constantly cut back against an onrushing G-Squared. Walter Cortez brought out his powerful pony, Paisanna, in the second chukker but Laurenz Gabrin was a constant menace, his ride-offs giving a blistering Patricio Gaynor the space he needed to swoop down on the ball and take the game away completely from G-Squared. Cardo secured themselves third place with 10 1/2 - 3.
With the midday sun heating up, DJ Zoë upped the beat and the spectators got themselves a quick cool drink. The final was about to start - Los Lobos vs Equilibrium. The first chukker saw Thommy Gräff, playing off position 2 for Los Lobos, set out as he meant to continue with a standout performance as a link player taking the ball forward. Martin Podesta as always reading the game superbly and consistently getting the call for penalties. For Equilibrium it was Daniel Aegerter who opened their scoring with his goal in the first chukker and a confident Morgan Van Overbroek converted a penalty in the second chukker to equalize. It was nail-bitingly neck-a-neck all the way with Equilibrium's Milos Ruszkowski displaying huge athletic ability and creating opportunities for his teammate, Joaquin Copello, who was fast and elusive as always. With just over three minutes to play in the final chukker the score stood at 4.4 with both teams struggling to break through defenses, and the crowd beginning to look forward to extra time. Sébastian Le Page powered into ride-offs and sticking duals but it was left to the quiet achiever, MVP winner Martin Podesta, to capitalize on great blocking by Markus Gräff and slot in two quick clinical goals for Los Lobos. We had the Swiss Medium Goal champions!
A Special Prize-Giving
The teams were lined up in front of Porsche-Winterthur's new additions, the Macan and Taycan. The table was covered in gifts nestling around the unique Swiss Medium Goal trophy.
Apart from the showering of these gifts on each of the teams and the triumphant lifting of the trophy by the winners, Los Lobos, the prize-giving was the opportunity for Sébastian Le Page to call us all to come together for Basti Fernandez and the charity action set up by Polo Park Zurich. Basti, a quiet, self-effacing young man with a smile that lights up the surroundings, was seriously injured in a riding accident and the polo community has rallied to support with the many things that insurance doesn't. Sébastian gave a moving speech before handing the mic to Basti, who thanked the Polo Community for their continuing support which was greeted with a massive round of applause. Basti was then asked to draw the winner of the helmet designed and signed by Aldofo and Poroto Cambiaso, donated by Performance Polo.The lucky man to win this was Tomas Leguizamon who was immediately contacted by phone. Sébastian was pleased to inform me that Tomas has, in the meantime re-donated the helmet so that Polo Park Zurich can repeat the charity action next year.
An impressive charity action and a splendid tournament. What a privilege to be a part of this.
Thank you Polo Park Zurich, for another outstandingly well-organized event.