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AT HAMDubai Polo Trophy

by Dara Williams

RUNNERS-UP last year, this season Kassem Shafi ’s green-shirted Shalimar rode out the winners in the latest edition of Ham’s Dubai Polo Trophy, by the narrowest of margins, their half-goal advantage.

It was a notable victory, however, as Shalimar, based around 5-goaler Vieri Antinori, were facing Thai patron Robin Lourvanij’s Kuppa, whose strong men were the formidable combination of Lucas Di Paola and England national captain Luke Tomlinson.

Kuppa had also enlisted 15-year-old William Batchelor, the only British boy to have reached the fi nals of the prestigious Portillos tournament in Buenos Aires.

The scoring for Kuppa was opened by Di Paolo, followed shortly by a goal from Aintinori for Shalimar.

By the end of the third chukka, Shalimar were ahead by a advantageous 5½-2. Extremely close marking of Tomlinson kept him from goal for some time but in the fi nal chukka he managed to escape and sent through the ball three times, once from a fi eld shot and twice from penalty conversions.

The Kuppa comeback was too late, however, and a penalty conversion from well-known Pakistan player Hissam Al Hyder – playing at Back for Shalimar – brought victory to the jubilant green shirts.

In the subsidiary fi nal Twilight beat Nashama 5-4 ½. Nashama, who received a goal and a half on handicap, had been put together by someone who must be the youngest polo patron in the world, 13-year old Faisal Al Rifai, from Jordan.

Faisal had enlisted Guillermo Cuitona as pivot, and it was this 6-goaler who kept Nashama in the game. But he was outclassed by Niall Donnelly, No 2 for Twilight, who fl ew up and down the fi eld in style.

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