La Indiana gallops past Habtoor, 12-8 in British Open play
By Alex Webbe
La Indiana (Michael Bickford, Nic Roldan, Agustin Merlos and Luke Tomlinson) was on the attack from the opening throw-in in 2017 Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup action at Cowdray Park Polo Club. La Indiana patron Michael Bickford scored the first goal of the game followed by a 40-yard penalty conversion from teammate Agustin Merlos, 2-0. Nico Pieres got Habtoor (Mohammed Al Habtoor, Nicolas Pieres, Francisco Elizalde and Paco O’Dwyer) on the scoreboard with a 30-yard penalty shot, 2-1. Merlos scored the final goal of the opening chukker on a well-executed cut shot that extended the La Indiana lead to two goals, 3-1.
A 40-yard penalty conversion from Pieres cut the La Indiana lead back to a single goal, 3-2, in the opening minutes of the second period. Nic Roldan scored his first goal of the day on a pass from Luke Tomlinson to make it 4-2. Habtoor kept the pressure on with Pieres following up a run by Francisco Elizalde that cut the La Indiana lead to a single goal, 4-3, to end the chukker.
Pieres and Merlos exchanged penalty goals in the opening minutes of the third period. Pieres tied the game at 4-4 with a 30-yard penalty goal. Merlos scored on a 60-yard penalty shot to take back the lead, 5-4. A goal from the field from Pieres knotted the game at 5-5 with Roldan giving La Indiana the 6-5 halftime lead on pass from Merlos.
Francisco Elizalde tied the game at 6-6 with his first goal of the game to open the fourth period when the scoring combination of Merlos and Roldan took control. Roldan found a streaking Merlos from the ensuing throw-in, and the Argentine 8-goaler raced down the field for the goal, 7-6. With a minute left in the chukker, Roldan found Merlos again, and the goal extended the La Indiana lead to two goals, 8-6. With time running out in the period, a Habtoor foul resulted in a Penalty 2. Merlos converted the 30-yard shot and the chukker ended with La Indiana in the lead by three goals, 9-6.
Habtoor fought to get back into the game in the fifth period, but a disciplined La Indiana defense kept them off the scoreboard. A pass from Tomlinson to Merlos to Roldan resulted in another La Indiana goal, 10-6, with Bickford scoring the final goal of the chukker to put La Indiana on top by five goals, 11-6.
Pieres scored the opening goal of the sixth chukker, 11-7, but it was clear that La Indiana remained in control of the contest. A 60-yard penalty goal from Merlos made it 12-7 as Habtoor struggled in their first high-goal outing of the English season. Pieres scored the final goal of the game on a 30-yard penalty shot as La Indiana evened their British Open record at 1-1. The loss was Habtoor’s first of the tournament, 0-1.
Merlos led the La Indiana attack with seven goals (four on penalty shots). Roldan added three goals and Bickford scored twice for the win. Pieres scores seven of Habtoor’s eight goals, with Elizalde scoring once in the loss.
2017 Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup action continues on Wednesday, July 5th with Talandracas (Edouard Carmignac, Guillermo Caset, Pelon Stirling and Jack Hyde) meeting Monterosso (Alessandro Bazzoni, Ignacio Toccalino, Santiago Toccalino and Matt Perry) at noon followed by a 3PM battle between Murus Sanctus (Corinne Ricard, Hilario Ulloa, Facundo Sola and Martin Podesta) and Sommelier (George Hanbury, Juan Gris Zavaleta, Fred Mannix and Alec White).
Talandracas will be looking to improve on their 1-1 record while Monterosso (1-0) will try to remain undefeated. Sommelier (0-1) will be looking for their first win of the tournament in the late afternoon game with Murus Sanctus (1-1) trying to notch their second win of the competition.