Ghantoot: A big crowd of 2,500 fans turned out to watch Ghantoot Polo Team win the final of the President's Cup tournament at Ghantoot Racing & Polo Club on Friday.
Hugo Barabucci, the seven-goal Argentine, was the hero of the winning side after scoring five of Ghantoot's seven goals to record victory by two goals over opponents Al Basti Polo Team.
The tournament was held under the patronage of Shaikh Falah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and presented by Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) and lead sponsored by Al Basti Equoworld and Tourism Development and Investment Company.
Shaikh Zayed Bin Saeed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan opened the event, which is the highlight of Ghantoot Racing & Polo Club's season. Ruben Eduardo Caro, Ambassador of Argentina, was present at the prize giving.
Al Basti gained the upper hand at the end of the first chukker thanks to Emirati player Ahmad Al Nuaimi and Argentine Igacio De Lusarreta, while Ghantoot only scored once, courtesy of the five handicapper, Oscar Colombres.
But though they were trailing by one, the partnership of Colombres and Barabucci has proved dangerous in the past and Barabucci scored in both the second and third chukkers.
Mattias and Colombres both claimed a goal for Al Basti in the fourth chukker, but Barabucci hit his stride, scoring another two.
With the score 5-4 in Ghantoot's favour, Al Basti's Colombres took advantage of every opportunity in the fifth and final chukker, getting on the scoreboard twice more for his hat-trick, but Barabucci and Ghantoot's own Colombres replied with a goal apiece, sealing the victory with a 7-5 scoreline
"It was a tough game. Our plan was to play our own type of polo, keep the action fast-paced and keep tight to Al Basti's attacking players. It was a team effort and everything went perfectly," said Barabucci, who proved something of a star of the show, posing for photographs with spectators after the match.
Ghantoot Racing & Polo Club took the unprecedented step of throwing open the doors of the UAE's only Royal polo club to the general public for the final.
"We were very pleased to see the large number of people that turned out to support our event and also to support polo in the UAE," said Saeed Bin Houfan Al Mansouri, vice-chairman of Ghantoot Racing & Polo Club. "We feel we have a duty to promote this historic sport throughout the country, to Emiratis and expatriates alike, and this event was a significant step in the right direction."
Ala'a Eraiqat, Chief Executive of ADCB, said his company was delighted to have performed such a key role in the tournament, which kicked off with qualifying rounds on March 25.
"ADCB is honoured and proud to have been part of such a superb event. The long-standing ADCB-Ghantoot partnership has been deepened through the art of teamwork on the polo field and the desire to showcase top-class international and local sporting ambition. The event was a huge success. We congratulate Ghantoot on a memorable day," he said.