Sunshine and Sizzling Sausages....Oktoberfest Polo in Tagmersheim
Tagmersheim Polo Club gave their members, local fans and international players a taste of Oktoberfest atmosphere at their Oktoberfest Polo Tournament 17-19 September. In the sunshine the smell of sizzling sausages and burger patties wafted across to spectators sitting at tables set along side of the field.
The beer was cold, Jenny had the coffee machine going and Arthur was ready with the music.
On both the Saturday and Sunday, spectators started strolling in around midday. They were ready for an afternoon's entertainment and this meeting of four outstanding teams did not disappoint. The players making up the teams were truly international, coming from Argentina, Brazil, Switzerland, UK and, of course, Germany. On Saturday, Team Fürstenberg, consisting of Alice Boldis, Nina Strasser, Franco Rodriguez and Raphael Oliveira were first up against Team Landsberg with Julia Hiebeler, Ken Kawamoto, Christopher Van Eupen and Comanche Gallardo. In this game Raphael Oliveira was majestic, especially in the first half, with a huge hand in his team's early lead, leaving Team Landsberg with a battle to save their game. Comanche Gallardo and Christopher Van Eupen kept their concentration and determination, but both were outpaced by the ever present Oliveira who constantly pounded away with the ball giving his team a 7.5 - 1 win.
An electrifying game followed. The ultimate skills test between two battle-hardened but elegantly acrobatic players - Patricio Gaynor for Team Why Not la Respelido and Francisco Rattagan for Team van Laack. They were to be supported by their competitive female players - for Why Not la Respelido we had Hanna Grill, Lorena Renggli, and Rachael Hughes. Their counterparts for Team van Laack were Anja Gutbrod, Isabel von Morgenstern and her daughter Sophia Jaenecke. Both teams sent their supporters into raptures with their sweeping attacks and counter attacks. The pace of the ponies, the stunning performance of the players, the intensity of the game lit up this sunny afternoon even further...classic entertainment. It was always going to be a half goal game with van Laack having that slight advantage. The game stayed tight, the momentum swinging both ways. In the last seconds of the last chukker Patricio Gaynor was able to break through the defense lines of van Laack and power down the field towards the goal, only to be thwarted by the bell sounding the end of this thriller at 4.5 - 4 for van Laack.
Naturally Bavarian culture was on full display at the evening event in the grounds of Tagmersheim Castle. Beer, pretzels, a brass band and a tent decorated in Bavarian State colors of blue and white. Dress code was "trachten " so most of the women brought out their gorgeous dirndls, men their "Lederhosen " and velvet vests. Nice to see some international players doing their best to observe the dress code with Raphael from Brazil resplendent in traditional jacket complete with horn buttons and Franco from Argentina in embroidered, black lederhosen. It all contributed to a "gemütlich " evening of fun and food, music and laughter.
Serious Sunday Action
Sunday's first game between Team van Laack and Team Fürstenberg saw the women on each team displaying their skills, with Nina Strasser competently scoring 3 goals for her team, Fürstenberg, while Isabelle von Morgenstern powered the ball between the posts in the fourth chukker for van Laack.
Anja Gutbrod for van Laack, finding her rhythm, came in to shine in the third chukker and, turning up the pace, was impressive in the fourth. At Nr3 for van Laack, Sophia Jaenecke was called in to defend time and again, making space for more astonishing acrobatics from Francisco Rattagan.
However when the pressure's on Raphael Oliveira rises to it, his pace never slowing up, directing Alice Boldis to "take her man", and, assisted by Franco Rodriguez, constantly broke away to score for his side. Another win 7 - 5.5
It all looked promising for Team Landsberg in the first two chukkers of the second game of the afternoon. Ken Kawamoto was well on form and able to be an absolute menace to Patricio Gaynor of Why Not la Respelido. However Patricio could call on Lorena Renggli and Rachael Hughes to help with the marking. This loosened up Hanna Grill, enabling her to get up front for the passes and help secure a 7.5 - 4 win.
Doing the Maths
With 4 balanced teams playing each other over three days and no true final, it was always going to require a bit of maths to ascertain the winner. Fortunately the time-keeper and tournament secretary, Angi Streller, had her meticulous game reports ready and umpire, Mark Holmes, was on hand to support Francisco with the calculations.
The Tagmersheim spectators were in Oktoberfest mode and happily stayed for the prize - giving where all the players were presented with a traditional Oktoberfest "Brotzeitbrettl" laden with salamis, cheese and beer, plus other gifts according to their tournament ranking. Winners of this Oktoberfest Polo Cup 2021 was Team Why Not la Respelido, while MVP went to Anja Gutbrod.
BPP went to Hanna Grill's Open Wee and represented all the ponies in this tournament who had been so noticeably outstanding. Ingo von Morgenstern, the perfect host, took the microphone to deliver a heartfelt thanks to all involved in the tournament organization, especially his wife, Isabelle, who was responsible for a truly enjoyable event. A special thanks went to Tagmersheim spectators who are always an enthusiastic and well informed crowd.
Oktoberfest tournaments are, however, a sign that the Bavarian polo season is drawing to an end and players stood around a bit after the prize-giving saying their goodbyes until next year. We'll all be back! Thank you Tagmersheim.