The Final Hurrah – Ayala wins the Copa de Oro at Santa Maria Polo Club, as Iñigo Zobel bids farewell to the High Goal
Sunday August 27th was an exciting day in Sotogrande, the 5 weeks of intense polo matches had led up to this moment, where two of the best teams would have the final showdown.
Ayala: Iñigo Zobel 0, Gregorio Gelosi 4, Santiago Laborde 6 and Facundo Pieres 10
La Indiana: Michael Bickford 1, Juan Gris Zavaleta 8, Byron Watson 3, Agustin (Tincho) Merlos 8
After a tumultuous season for La Indiana (to say the least, with the amount of injuries and team changes they had) I was very happy to see them in the final.
My #BFF and polo sidekick Cecilie (Tiller) joined me in Sotogrande for a fun finals weekend and Malcolm Borwick invited us to watch the match from the Royal Salute tent.
The boys in blue (Ayala) started off very strong and a very quick first chukker ended 3-0 to them, leaving La Indiana hungry for points.
Ayala patron Iñigo Zobel had stated that this was his last year playing in the high goal, which must have given his team mates an extra incentive to give it all on the (battle)field. Facundo Pieres said after the match “We all want to win every match of course, but this one was extra special as it is Iñigo’s last one in the high goal.”
La Indiana fought back and hard, Tincho and Zavaleta working together wonderfully and putting away goal after goal and starting to catch up to Ayala.
By half time Tiller and I were craving pizza and empanadas, so we made our way to the other side of Los Pinos field 3 to the food court area.
I really applaud Santa Maria Polo Club for the layout of the club, 4 fields, with grandstands and a great shopping village and bar (G&T and polo go hand-in-hand of course) between field 3 and 4 and another food court, bar and children’s play area between field 2 and 3.
In my opinion, this is exactly what is needed to attract more people to watch polo. I love watching polo, but I understand it can be a bit tedious after a while if you are not a polo nerd, so a bit of shopping, food and drinks are great additions to the excitement of the sport of kings and creates a wonderful atmosphere.
Back to the match our friends in white were fighting and giving it their all, but it was clear that Ayala had brought in some serious horsepower and had a few runs where nobody could stop them.
The final hooter went with 13-8 on the board in favour of Ayala polo team, who could proudly call themselves the winners.
His Majesty King Juan Carlos had witnessed the match (which also explained the great amount of Guardia Civil soldiers and in general much stricter security and access).
Iñigo Zobel looked very proud and pleased as His Majesty handed him the Golden Trophy, which he held up high for the last time.
Facundo Pieres was awarded both MVP and his mare Cube was awarded BPP.
Then the celebrations could begin, with a shower of champagne to kick-start the celebrations.