The Bombers Arena Challenge took place on the 23rd and 24th of April at the spectacular location of Dallas Burston Polo Grounds’ Super Arena in Warwickshire and saw players ranging from 6 to 22 years old take part across three grades. It was chance for Pony Club polocrosse players to show their skills and it was clear from the start that polocrosse in the Pony Club, and the UK in general, continues to improve every year.
Players had travelled from all the UK to take part, with players coming from Branches as far away as Northumberland, Essex and South Wales and they were rewarded with a beautiful arena to play in and also sunny weather for much of the two days. Play was highly competitive and both the players and their horses were in good form given how early in the season it was.
The Minis grade, which was for players of 12 years and under, saw two separate competitions run, with three teams battling it out on Saturday and then the players being rearranged for the Sunday contest. On Saturday the Foxes team won the day, defeating the Tigers and the Badgers while on the Sunday the Blue team defeated the Red team and the Green team. The Mini players ranged from experienced to complete beginners but all were mixed together to create even teams which resulted in some close and exciting games.
The Junior grade (Under 16’s) saw 5 teams take part and it was a win for the local Branch team of North Warwickshire as they managed 4 wins out of 4 as Fin Bristow, Tegan Bristow (who was one of a number of players who was still eligible for Minis stepping up to play in Juniors) and Theo Cornforth combined to great effect. In second place were the Ledbury Hunt, who defeated the Hurworth Harriers (a combination of the Hurworth Hunt branch and the Rockwood Harriers) in their final game to decide who would finish 2nd and who would be 3rd. Behind them were the full Rockwood Harriers team and in fifth spot were the Stoneleigh team, who were made up on players from the Grafton Hunt, the United Pack and the Cheshire Hunt North. Play was of a high standard throughout and it particularly good to see players who have either just graduated from the Mini grades or were still eligible for them coming up to play in the Junior grades and competing strongly.
The Open grade saw four teams clash and it was once again a win for the North Warwickshire, though this time only by one goal on goal difference after three of the four teams each won two matches and lost one. However, ultimately it was the North Warwickshire’s Katie Loutisou, Danny Woodward and Will Golding who emerged victorious with the Harriers (made up on Ledbury Hunt and LLangeinor players) in second place. In third place was the Area 3 team, the Eagles, as players from the Rockwood Harriers, the Ryburn Valley and the Hurworth Hunt combined and then in fourth was the Buzzards, which was made up on players from the Flamstead, the Essex and Suffolk and Percy Hunt Branches.
All the grades were sponsored by Bombers Equestrian Equipment and as well as the team results there were also prizes for best horses and best players in each grade. In the Minis Paige Wilson won best player while Pepper, ridden by Tegan Bristow, took best pony. In the Juniors the best player went to Rosie George with Fin Bristow’s Mancha winning best horse. Finally, in the Open Charlotte Winder won best player while Laurie Cam’s Valerio won best horse.
Full results of the Pony Club Polocrosse Bombers Arena Challenge
1st – North Warwickshire – Will Golding, Katie Loutsiou, Danny Woodward
2nd – Harriers – Sophia Harpin (Llangeinor Hunt), Megan Smith (Ledbury Hunt), Laurie Cam (Ledbury Hunt)
3rd – Eagles – Stuart Dyson (Rockwood Harriers), Charlotte Dew (Ryburn Valley), Jemma Alderson (Hurworth Hunt)
4th – Buzzards – Charlotte Winder (Flamstead), Emma Joslin (Essex and Suffolk Hunt), Rebecca Alderson (Percy Hunt)
Best Player – Charlotte Winder
Best Horse – Valerio (Laurie Cam)
1st – North Warwickshire – Finton Bristow, Theo Cornforth, Teagan Bristow
2nd – Ledbury Hunt – Josh Smith, Nat Gilder, Rosie George
3rd – Hurworth Harriers – Ryan Sweeney (Rockwood Harriers), Jessica Alderson (Hurworth Hunt), Caitlin Heagney (Rockwood Harriers)
4th – Rockwood Harriers – Jake Wilson, Paige Wilson, Lauren Wilson
5th – Stoneleigh – Sally Watney (United Pack), Kate Tranter (Cheshire Hunt North), Millie Wilson-Fitzgerald (Grafton Hunt)
Best Player – Rosie George
Best Horse – Mancha (Finton Bristow)
1st – Foxes – Harriet Wasdell (Warwickshire Hunt), Marley Harris (Ledbury Hunt), Tegan Bristow (North Warwickshire)
2nd – Tigers – Philip Watney (United Pack), Lottie Wilson-Fitzgerald (Grafton Hunt), Holly Slatter (North Cotswold Hunt)
3rd – Badgers – Xanthe Goodman (East Essex Hunt), Paige Wilson (Rockwod Harriers), Megan Cummings (North Warwickshire)
1st – Blue – Paige Wilson (Rockwood Harriers), Xanthe Goodman (East Essex Hunt), Lottie Wilson-Fitzgerald (Grafton Hunt) / Megan Cummings (North Warwickshire)
2nd – Red – Tegan Bristow (North Warwickshire), Holly Slatter (North Cotswold Hunt), Lottie Wilson-Fitzgerald (Grafton Hunt)
3rd – Green – Harriet Wasdell (Warwickshire Hunt), Philip Watney (United Pack), Megan Cummings (North Warwickshire)
Best Player – Paige Wilson
Best Pony – Pepper (Tegan Bristow)