The Pony Club Polocrosse Championships took place on the 17th and 18th of August at Cholmondeley Castle, alongside the Pony Club Championships for the sports of show jumping, eventing, mounted games and dressage. There were two days of action packed polocrosse under some glorious sunshine and there was a really high level of skill shown from both players and their horses. The Pony Club grounds team had put in extra effort this year to make the pitches as good as possible and it paid off; without the heavy rain that has blighted the second day of the championships for the last couple off years the finals were played out on the Saturday afternoon on an excellent surface after the pitches held up well. There was a real mix of novice and more established players competing and it was brilliant to see the mixture of experience across the different grades of play.
There are probably no branch teams more experienced than the North Warwickshire senior section of Katie Loutsiou, Danny Woodward and Amy Harper and they duly retained the Charles Mason Open Seniors trophy that they won in 2017. The East Cheshire team (Dan Drummond , Alexa Holland and Alex Vickers) held them for the first two chukkas of the final but in the third chukka North Warwickshire smoothly went up the gear and pulled away to win the day.
In the Novice Seniors grade it was a combined Overdalkeith Stables (Luca Puccinati and Megan McColl) and North Warwickshire (Russel Smith) team who won all their matches to lift the trophy. The Area 17 team of Emily-Jayne Mccleane (Iveagh), Ashleigh Saunderson (North Down) and Bonnie McCallum (North Down) team pushed them closest, going down by 10 goals to 6 when the two teams met, and they ended up in second place.
In the Stoneleigh Open Juniors competition there were some incredible close matches between the five teams, with a number of matches going to golden goal or being decided by a single goal. The standard of play was very high throughout, especially given the number of players who had either only recently moved up from Minis or in some cases were still actually eligible for Minis. The spectators were treated to some very fast and skillful junior polocrosse over the two days and, with the players’ average age being just 14, it will be very exciting to see how much more they all improve over the next couple of years. However, in the end it was the United Pack team of Sally Watney, Phillip Watney and Charlie Evans who came out on top. The combined North Warwickshire (Harry Horton-Barr and Katinka Frassoni) and Warwickshire Hunt (Will Holland) team came second, they only lost to the United Pack by 9 goals to 8 when the two teams met on Saturday but won all their other matches to secure second.
The Novice Juniors saw 6 teams of less inexperienced juniors battle it out. Indeed, for nearly all the players in this grade this was their first time at Pony Club Championships and it was great to see so many new faces on the pitch. It was the Area 17 team of Rachel Dominy (North Down) , Ella Hearn (North Down) and Phoebe Gillan (Killultagh and Old Rock Chichester Harriers) who won all their matches and climbed to the top step of the podium. Rachel in particular was on flying form aboard Stonehavens Gonzo as she scored freely throughout the weekend in the number 1 shirt. They overcame Tanatside (Annie Unwin, Scarlett Gibson and Lara Burgoyne) in the final after both teams had won their respective pools.
In the Brookes Minis competition, the United pack team of Alice Leeke, Niamh Morris and Jessica Clark were crowned the champions after they overcame a combined team of Taryn Tinker (Essex and Suffolk), Xanthe Goodman (Essex Hunt North) and Lottie Wilson-Fitzgerald (Oakley Hunt West) by 4 goals to 2 in the final game of the day. This victory continued United Pack excellent record in the Minis competition, as Jessica had won the Open Minis in 2017, with Charlie Evans and Phillip Watney as her team mates, while Niamh and Alice had won the Novice minis in that year.
In the Novice Minis grade there were again some incredibly close games and again lots of new faces on the pitch. The final was decided by a single goal as the Romney Marsh Lions team of Rosie Webb, Seb Cameron-Clarke and Oscar Hewitt-Riley overcame a combined North Warwickshire (James Dawson and Keeley Rock) and Ledbury (Lucinda Chinn) team by 6 goals to 5. It was Romney Marsh’s first appearance at the championships for quite a number of years and their supporters were clearly delighted with their win, having made the long journey up from Kent.
The Malden Championships, which is awarded to the Branch, Centre or Area that does best overall in the Charles Mason Open Seniors and the Stoneleigh Open Juniors, was awarded to the Area 7 combination of the North Warwickshire Open Seniors and the North Warwickshire/ Warwickshire Hunt Open Juniors, as they finished first and second in these two grades respectively.
James Dawson of North Warwickshire picked up best sportsman for the way he helped less experienced players on the pitch while playing against them, and Thea Ryan of Hill Farm Stables picked up best sportswoman for her support for her team mates and friendliness to her opponents in her first ever championships appearance.
Overall, it was a fantastic couple of days and another clear sign that the standard of polocrosse in the Pony Club continues to improve and that more and more new branches and centres are taking up the sport.
This growth and improvement over the last few years lead the Pony Club to hold their first overseas polocrosse tour earlier in 2018, when Pony Club Australia sent over 7 members to play against a UK team in two test matches and also compete against three sponsored teams in the Chairman’s challenge competition. This was also hailed a huge success, giving lots of polocrosse playing members the chance to gain experience of tours and compete on a bigger stage.
Looking forwards, the Home Nations competition is due to return in 2019 for the third time, with the teams for each Nation due to be selected soon after the annual Pony Club Polocrosse Arena Challenge, which is taking place on the 30th and 31st of March, and so hopefully the sport will continue to grow and improve even more during the next year.
Pony Club Polocrosse Championships Results 2018
Charles Mason Open Seniors
Stoneleigh Open Juniors
Brookes Open Minis
|1st||North Warwickshire||Overdalkeith Stables/ North Warwickshire||United Pack||Area 17||United Pack||Romney Marsh Lions|
|2nd||Area 5||Area 17||North Warwickshire/Warwickshire Hunt||Tanatside||Essex and Oakley||North Warwickshire/ Ledbury|
|3rd||Llangeinor Hunt||North Cornwall/ United Pack||Overdalkeith Stables||Overdalkeith Stables||Romney Marsh Tigers|
|4th||Essex and Oakley||Area 8||LLangeinor Hunt||Amman Valley||Flint & Denbigh|
|5th||Area 5||United Pack||United Pack/ Hill Farm Equestrian Centre|
|6th||Banwen & District/ Tanatside|
Pony Club Polocrosse Championships Tack and Turnout Results 2018
|1st||Area 17 (87 points)||Area 17 (87 points)||Essex and Oakley (84 points)||Flint and Denbigh (84 points)|
|2nd||Area 8 (84.5 points)||Area 5 (84 points)||United Pack (70 points)||Hill Farm/ United Pack (76 points)|
|3rd||Area 5 (83.5 points)||Tanatside (81.25 points)||North Warwickshire/ Ledbury (74 points)|