Dubai: Monte Carlo Polo team avenged their Saturday’s loss to win the final of the Lan To Capital Luxury Polo Cup defeating Lan To Capital at the Dubai Polo and Equestrian Club on Sunday.
The huge turnout of guests and fans were treated to some high-class action with both teams trying to take control of the four-chukker final of the Luxury Cup, that kick-started the new UAE polo season. It was once again Monte Carlo team who went ahead early in the first chukker and increased the lead to two goals midway through the seven-minute chukker.
Mohammad Bin Drai came to Lan To Capital’s rescue by scoring his team’s first goal towards the end of the first chukker. The action-packed second chukker failed to produce any goals as both teams missed several opportunities until Rishi Bhansali increased Monte Carlo’s lead to 3-1 just before the half-time.
Mohammad Bin Drai got into the act at the start of the third chukker when he scored off a 30-yard penalty to make it 3-2. Polo is all about anticipation that will go hand in hand with skills. Mohammad Bin Drai once again anticipated well to score the equaliser for Lan To Capital.
Monte Carlo once again went ahead thanks to a 30-yard penalty, taken by Rashid Bin Drai and skipper Francesco Milrano, who is also the President of Monte Carlo Polo Federation, increased the score to 5-3 when the hooter signalled the end of the third chukker.
Lan To Captial’s main scorer on Saturday, Massimo Baggi, was not given the freedom today and was tightly marked, which kept him from scoring. But Mohammad Bin Drai took up the role up on himself to score his fourth goal, again off a 30-yard penalty to bring Lan To Capital closer at 5-4, but Rishi Banshali took the contest beyond Lan To Capital’s reach by scoring Monte Carlo’s sixth goal. Though Rishi missed another brilliant effort in the final minutes, it was enough for Monte Carlo to claim the Luxury Polo Cup 6-4.
The guests were treated to a horse-archery show and a junior polo exhibition match between Lan To Capital and Monte Carlo. The juniors displayed great horsemanship and showed what the future of polo holds during an entertaining two-chukker match that Lan To Capital won 3-2.
Lan To Capitals’ Aiden Al Ahmed, Charlie Matthews and Arhaan Chokshy moved to an early two-goal lead before increasing it to 3-1 at the break. Monte Carlo’s Hassan Al Abbar, Noor Al Abbar and Emily Bennett kept Lan To Capital from surging ahead and reduced the margin to 3-2, but they were not able to seal the contest despite putting up a still fight.
Adam Snowdon, the commentator for the event, kept the fans entertained with his description of the polo games apart from educating the new fans on the laws of the game, like all polo players are right-handers and no left-hander is allowed to take part in the match to avoid collision.
The Englishman, who has been a commentator for 30 years, said: “The sport has grown remarkably since the time he first came into the UAE in 1996. It started at the old polo club near the old country club near Meydan. Today, we have a total of 10 polo fields across Dubai that includes Dubai Polo and Equestrian Club, Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club, which is one of the oldest, Desert Palms and Al Habtoor Polo and Resort. That’s the proof that the sport has grown. We saw earlier today that the next generation of players exhibiting their skills, which is great news for polo. We have about dozen home-grown high-goal players in UAE, which says a lot about the high-quality of the sport in this country,” Snowdon said, adding that the Gold Cup series has taken the sport to a different level.
Snowdon quoted Winston Churchill “A polo handicap is a persons ticket to the world. It is a worldwide community,” he concluded.
Monte-carlo Polo Team: Rashid Bin Drai, Khalid Bin Drai, Rishi Bhansali, Francesco Mitrano.
Lan To Capital Polo Team: Mohammad Bin Drai, Daniele Meena/Simon Beltley, Massimo Baggi and Valerie van Langenhove.
Gappa of Bin Drai Polo was adjudged best polo pony of the Luxury Cup