The Cambridge Challenge began today at Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club. The five-day event, which will be held on 13, 16, 17, 19 and 20 July 2014, will see teams from the world’s most prestigious universities go head-to-head for a chance to be crowned this year’s champions of Metropolitan Intervarsity Polo.
Teams competing in the event last year included the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford, Harvard University and Yale University. This year the tournament will include two additional university polo teams, with the University of London and Stanford University also preparing to swing their mallets in the exciting five-day event.
The tournament, which is now in its second year, has become an integral resource in the promotion of the elegant and historical game of polo among China’s youth. The Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club is keen to use this platform to encourage more interest and enthusiasm in the game of polo, as well as provide an opportunity for academic, cultural and social exchanges among representatives from universities, as well as local students and parents. For many, polo is fast becoming more than just a game, but a way of life.
The annual event attracts large groups of university alumni, many of whom have flown in from their home countries to support their alma maters in Tianjin. The sidelines are also frequented by VIP guests, international polo experts and media. Guests are able to enjoy the games from the comfortable garden seating or inside one of the air-conditioned marquees, where refreshments are served throughout the chukkas.
At last year’s event, Cambridge managed to scoop the final prize, following a fierce battle with Harvard. This year, anticipation is high to see whether they will be able to secure their title for another year.
Polo, one of the oldest team sports in history, received a fresh injection of excitement on the first day of the tournament, after an impressive show of passion and skills from some of the world’s rising polo stars.
The first match of the week saw Yale take on newcomers to the tournament, the University of London. The two teams battled closely through the first three chukkas. After a strong start, with Reda Shetty scoring in the first minute, the London team struggled to find their way through the posts in the second chukka, as the Bulldogs defense managed to keep London scoreless until the final few seconds.
The second half saw some aggressive play from both sides. Unfortunately for the Yale Bulldogs, London found their offense in the last chukka, scoring four points consecutively, with Natascha Hedegaard scoring an 80-yard shot. The final result secured London a 10-7.5 victory over the Bulldogs. Following the match, Shetty said that he was disappointed at the high number of fouls, but confident that the new addition to the team, due to arrive tomorrow, will present them with a better chance against the tournament’s favoured teams, Cambridge and Harvard.
Under clear blue skies and a warm sun, guests marvelled at the skills and precision of the elite equestrians. After a short interval, players from two of America’s most celebrated universities mounted their horses to go head-to-head. The young Harvard team took on tournament newcomers, Stanford, looking to make up for a disappointing loss in last year’s tournament. Harvard, giving two handicap points to Stanford, took a demanding 4-2 lead in the first chukka. Harvard finished off Stanford 11-4, displaying their determination for a first-place finish in this year’s tournament. After falling short to Cambridge in the final last year, promising young player, Johann Colloredo-Mansfeld, said he is looking forward to challenging the current champions. Johann said he and his team mates are feeling confident about their level of play, but feel “it is important to keep a cool head and continue to play well”.
Day 2 – Wednesday:
Cloudy skies and heavy rains earlier on the day provided some questions about the quality of play in today’s matches, but the weather was pleasantly cooler than usual and the rain had little effect on these elite athletes. The first match of today’s tournament, Cambridge, the returning champions, took on Oxford. It was a slow start on this moist day with both teams showing solid defence. With the help of 2013’s Most Valuable Player, Sam Browne, and Angad Singh, Cambridge were able to overcome the 1.5 point handicap in the first chukka leaving the score 2-1.5.
In the opening of the second chukka, Singh missed an easy penalty shot sitting in front of the goal. Both teams show outstanding defence throughout this chukka. Cambridge had a great opportunity in the last seconds to score but the whistle was blown leaving the second chukka scoreless for both sides. Cambridge took back the momentum scoring 4 times in the third chukka, highlighted by Browne’s third point in the match, a beautiful drive down field displaying the acceleration and control he had over his pony Cocktail. In the fourth chukka, Oxford were able to subdue Cambridge’s offense. Tomas Reynal was able to put one through the posts on a penalty making it a 3.5 points’ match, but it wasn’t enough. Cambridge walked away with a win. Sam Browne stated that they were pleased with their performance coming into this tournament after a 6-week break and then celebrating his 21st birthday in China with teammates, but they were also aware that there was heavy competition ahead.
After a short intermission, riders from London and Harvard took to the field for what was to be another exciting match. London came out strong showing both great offense and spectacular defence from London’s new addition, Charles Scott, who arrived when the tournament was already underway. London scored 3 points in the first chukka taking a commanding 3-0 lead. Looking as if London would run away with this match, Harvard were able to put three through the posts as London’s offense went cold in the second chukka. The first half ended, but not before JP Meyer Jr could score one last goal as the bell rang, leaving Harvard trailing London by one point in an exciting first half.
The third chukka set off with London finding their rhythm as Charles Scott, showing some electric play in the second half, brook away for his second point of the match. Johann Colloredo-Mansfeld missed a 60-yard penalty attempt as the ball soared wide right of the goal leaving the score 7-3 at the end of the third chukka. The fourth chukka set off with another long drive from Scott, who put it in off the left post for his third point of the match. Harvard’s Johann was able to drive and put one more through the posts with 41 seconds left on the clock, but it just wasn’t enough for this Harvard squad. London claimed victory with a 9-4 lead over Harvard to close out today’s tournament play.
Day 3 – Thursday was a humid and overcast day with a slight breeze as we entered into day three of the Cambridge Challenge. Heavy rains from an electric thunderstorm graced over the fields last night but did not have much an effect on the level of play. The first match of Thursday’s competition presented Team Stanford, already with one loss, to battle Team Cambridge, champions of the Metropolitan Intervarsity Polo 2013. Cambridge, led by Sam Browne, came out with guns blazing in the first half of the game. Browne, who seemed to be everywhere on the field at once, scored 3 goals in the first chukka and 3 more in the second chukka. Stanford were only able to answer with a single point from Erich Schloss, set up with some beautiful team play by Shivani Torres, leaving the score 8-2.5 in favour of Cambridge in the first half.
Stanford looked to turn things around in the second half with a breakaway goal from Shivani Torres within the first seconds of the third chukka, only to be disappointed by this dominant Cambridge squad led by Browne, who scored 4 goals in the fourth chukka. Cambridge only allowed Stanford one more goal in the end, beating them 17-5.5. When asked why Cambridge kept pushing in the second half of the match, Sam Browne, who accounted for 12 of Cambridge’s goals, explained it was for point differential. If Cambridge ended up tied to another team later on in the tournament, the placement would be determined by goals, which at this point would put Cambridge in the lead.
After a brief intermission, riders from Oxford and Yale took to the battlefield for what would be redemption for one of these elite universities who have, until this match, both suffered a loss each. Oxford came out on top of the first chukka scoring three times on the Yale riders. The second chukka was filled with penalties. Oxford were able to take it through the posts two more times, one of them by Jerome Kamm with a beautiful drive showcasing his great skills, athleticism and elegance over his pony Cafu.
Yale had a few good attempts to score in the third chukka but were unable to gain points. Wang from Oxford on the other hand was able to put two through the posts for Oxford, giving them a 7-0 lead. In the fourth chukka, Yale were once again outplayed but not without Arthur Sonnenfeld scoring one point to prevent a shutout, leaving the final score 10-1 in favour of Oxford. Lawrence Wang attributed Oxford’s victory to their ability to play “individual classic polo”, not playing anything fancy but playing as a team.
The tournament will continue on the 19th giving the players and ponies a day of rest before we see all six teams match up. We will be looking forward to more exciting polo with Oxford matching up against Harvard, Stanford taking on Yale and London taking on Cambridge.
On another hot humid day in Tianjin, Oxford, with a two-point handicap advantage, went head-to-head with Harvard. The opening chukka showed a confident Oxford team take control with an early 3-0 lead; by the second chukka, with both teams playing great defense, Oxford were able to score another point. Harvard, after a few good attempts, were finally able to mark their first point on the scoreboard after a penalty taken by Neil Purdy, which ended the second chukka 4-1, with Oxford in the lead.
The third chukka showed Harvard attempt a comeback, scoring early in the chukka, but Lawrence Wang kept Oxford in a 3-point lead by scoring in the final few seconds. The fourth chukka heated up, with goals from all four of the Harvard players, finishing with a beautiful goal from Johann Colloredo-Mansfeld giving the Harvard team a 6-5 win.
Johann attributed their win to great team play and was relieved after securing the winning point. The second match hosted Stanford and Yale, both looking for their first win in this tournament.
It was a slow start for the two teams in the first chukka, but Stanford eventually gained the ball, scoring goals thanks to Erich Schloss and Ellie Redding late in the first chukka. Stanford slowly pulled away from Yale in the second chukka, scoring two more, giving Stanford a 4-2.5 lead.
The third chukka ended with Stanford taking 5-2.5 lead, as Eric Birdsall aimed a shot wide of the posts. In the final chukka, the Yale team were able to put a point on the board with a goal from Arthur Sonnenfeld, but it was too little too late. The outcome of this match was already decided as the final horn blew, leaving Stanford with a 5-3.5 victory.
The battle continued as Cambridge and London crossed mallets, looking to steal the other’s glory. Both teams entered this match undefeated, but at the end of the day only one team would claim victory. It was a slow start, with both teams denying each other much opportunity to make a move, but Cambridge eventually came out on top scoring two goals in the first chukka.
The second chukka opened with Reda Shetty managing a quick goal for London. Any hopes for London making a comeback in the second chukka were quickly extinguished by Sam Browne as he scored three goals for Cambridge ending the first half 5-1 to Cambridge.
In the third chukka, London missed a few golden opportunities but valiantly played on. It paid off for London, with Natascha Hedegaard scoring a tough angled shot. London managed to hold Cambridge off as the third chukka ended 5-2 with London hoping to turn things around in the fourth chukka. Charles Scott showed his terrific skills by scoring four goals and turned the match around.
When asked about his four-goal run in the fourth chukka, Scott gave most of the credit to his horse, Beetle, “Point and go. She makes life easy. I don’t have to think about riding, just think about hitting the ball,” said Scott when asked about his performance. He also gave praise to Reda Shetty for his great assistance. One more goal from Shetty was enough to put the final nail in the coffin for Cambridge, ending the match 7-5 to London.
It was later learned that Cambridge’s star player, Sam Browne, had suffered an injury to his hand in the third chukka, raising doubts over his ability to play in tomorrow’s Championship match against London.
The tournament will continue on Sunday, 20 July, with all six teams matching up for the final day of polo. Stanford will be taking on Yale, Oxford will have a chance to redeem themselves against Harvard, and London will have the opportunity to knock Cambridge off their pedestal.
Things started off with the fifth and sixth place match, presenting Yale with their last opportunity to win a match as they challenged Stanford. Stanford defeated Yale 5–3.5 the previous day, while giving Yale 2.5 points due to the handicap difference, which they repeated today.
Stanford made the first strike, with a goal from Eric Birdsall, making the score 2.5–1 to Yale. The second chukka opened with a goal from John Cook, followed by a beautiful neck shot from Erich Schloss, giving the Stanford team a 3-2.5 lead. But they didn’t hold on to that lead for long, as Yale quickly turned things around with a goal by Arthur Sonnenfeld, who knocked it through the posts. Another quick goal from Chelsea Messinger and the first half was over, with Yale on top for the first time in the tournament, with a 4.5–3 lead.
Yale continued their drive on Stanford with two more goals from Arthur, one of them a penalty. As things started to look as though Yale would run away with the match, Stanford were able to score once more before the end of the third chukka at the hands of Eric. The third chukka ended with Yale still leading, 6.5–4. The fourth chukka showed great determination from both teams. Cyrus Shahabi was able to score for Yale after a drive up the field from Arthur, stretching out Yale’s lead.
Stanford managed to score one last time before the match ended, but it was too late, as Yale secured its first win of the tournament with a 7.5-5 victory.
The subsidiary final hosted Harvard and Oxford. In yesterday’s match, Harvard defeated Oxford in great form, managing a spectacular comeback in the second half of the match, outscoring Oxford 4-1 to win the match 6-5.
Fighting for the third place today, Oxford made a strong start, scoring first in the match with a goal from Tomas Reynal, finishing a shot taken by Elli Gilje. Another shot scored by Jerome Kamm was quickly answered by a drive and goal from Harvard’s Johann Colloredo-Mansfeld, ending the chukka with Oxford in the lead, 4-1. In the second chukka, Neil Purdy took a beautiful shot, sending the ball under the belly of his horse and through the posts.
Oxford scored twice in this quarter and took a 6-2 lead to end the first half. The second half started out with a free hit from Johann, who was unable to convert it to a point. At the other end of the field, Tomas managed to take it to the Harvard defense, scoring for the Oxford team. Johann answered, as he patiently moved the ball down the field to find the centre of the posts with a big shot for another Harvard goal. Both teams displayed some aggressive play, but were unable to score in the rest of the third chukka, leaving the score 7-3 to Oxford.
In the fourth, Johann was able to power through the tough Oxford defense to close the lead to three. Immediately after, Tomas Reynal broke away for an easy score, bringing their lead back up to four.
Another big goal from Lawrence Wang gave Oxford a five-point lead in the back end of the fourth chukka. Thomas Waite scored one more for Harvard, hoping to spark another comeback, but Harvard did not have it in them today, leaving Oxford to take their revenge and win the match 9-5.
The championship game of the tournament presented a fierce line-up from Cambridge, with a 0.5-point handicap, up against the London team. On the previous day, London defeated Cambridge, giving them a confidence boost to start the fifth and final day.
The final match of the tournament opened with strong defense shown from both teams, preventing any opportunity of changing the scoreboard. Charles Scott, presented with an opportunity to score, did so with a high shot that made its way through the posts for the first goal of the match.
The quarter ended with London in the lead, 1-0.5. Cambridge took control in the beginning of the second chukka with a drive from Sam Browne all the way to the front of the goal, which was eventually knocked in by Cambridge’s Angad Singh. Charles managed to break out of the group of players with the ball and drive it through the posts for another London goal. The second chukka ended 2.-1.5 to London.
In the third chukka, Charles worked his way toward the goal, wound up, and ripped it through the posts for another London point. Charles found another opportunity to score a penalty, and did so, giving London a two and a half-point lead. Charles was on fire as he went on to score one more for London off of a penalty that was almost denied by the mallet of Sam Browne. Arthur Cole-Fontayn knocked one through the posts off an assist from Charles Scott. The third chukka ended 6-1.5, with London in the lead.
In the fourth chukka, the Cambridge squad made a valiant effort, with Sam Browne scoring two for Cambridge, hoping to make a comeback against the London team. Missing a few golden opportunities late in the fourth, the Cambridge team fought hard till the final horn sounded, but could not change their fate, having to pass the championship crown of the Metropolitan Intervarsity Polo Tournament to the University of London.
At the closing ceremony all the teams were suitably celebrated for competing in the 2014 Metropolitan Intervarsity Polo Tournament. The outcome of the day’s matches left London as the new Metropolitan Intervarsity Polo Champions, after defeating last year’s champs, Cambridge, who, this year, earned second place.
Oxford took third place after defeating Harvard, who ended the tournament in the fourth place. Yale, with their first win in the tournament, claimed the fifth place after defeating Stanford, who ended in the sixth place.
The “Most Valuable Player” award of the tournament went to London’s Charles Scott, after a marvelous performance, scoring 13 goals in 3 matches, following a late arrival to the tournament, missing London’s first match against Yale. “Best Pony” of the tournament went to Scott’s pony, Beetle. Charles gave Beetle high praise and credit for London’s comeback against Cambridge on the fourth day of play, when he scored four points in the fourth chukka to take the win.
The award for “Most Improved Player” went to Lawrence Wang from Oxford University.
When asked about his experience during the tournament, Charles Scott gave thanks and praise to Mr. Pan Sutong, Chairman of Goldin Group and Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club for organising such an amazing tournament. “It was really well organised, the pitch was amazing, the horses were lovely, and staying at the hotel was a great experience; everything ran very smoothly, and I would like to thank everyone involved in the tournament,” he said
Sunday, 13 July 2014
London vs Yale 10 – 7.5
Stanford vs Harvard 4 – 11
Wednesday, 16 July 2014
Oxford vs Cambridge 2.5 – 6
London vs Harvard 9 – 4
Thursday, 17 July 2014
Cambridge vs Stanford 17 – 5.5
Oxford vs Yale 10 – 1
Saturday, 19 July 2014
Oxford vs Harvard 5 – 6
Stanford vs Yale 5 – 3.5
Cambridge vs London 5 – 7
Sunday, 20 July 2014
5th-6th: Stanford vs Yale 5 – 7.5
3rd-4th: Harvard vs Oxford 5 – 9
Final: Cambridge vs London 3.5 – 6
ORGANISERS Tianjin Polo Association Hong Kong Polo Development and Promotion Federation Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club http://www.metropolitanpoloclub.com
About Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club
Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club currently features three standard-size polo fields, stabling over 200 horses, all-weather training facilities, a riding school and a luxurious Club House and a 167-room resort-style hotel. The state-of-the-art equestrian facilities are used and maintained by professionals from all over the world.
Apart from being the host venue of the 2012, 2013 and 2014 FIP Fortune Heights Snow Polo World Cup, major international fixtures on the Club’s annual calendar include various spring and autumn tournaments and matches for different levels of play from youth to professional.
Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club was opened in November 2010 as the sporting and social flagship of “Goldin Metropolitan”, a mega-development by Hong Kong-listed developer Goldin Properties Holdings Limited comprising three zones: a Central Business District, home to the 117-storey Goldin Finance 117; the 898,000 square metres’ (222-acre) Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club and Fortune Heights, a low-density luxury residence.