The Pony Club held an Autumn Challenge at the spectacular Dallas Burston Polo Club in Warwickshire on the 14th and 15th of September. This event was put on at short notice, following the sad cancellation of the Pony Club Championships in August due to adverse weather conditions and ground conditions.
However, in the Autumn Challenge the organisers managed to put on brilliant event, with some great pitches to play on and the venue being very well suited for parents and others who wanted to engage in some polocrosse watching, with a pub and terrace overlooking the main pitch.
Pony Club members came from around the UK to take part and there was some brilliant matches across the five grades, Minis, Juniors and Seniors, with Seniors and Juniors grades split into Novice and Open.
The Open grades saw lots of players who had represented their respective nations in the Polypads Four Nations competition earlier this year back in their Branch colours competing against each other, while the Novice grades featured lots of new faces, some of who have only started playing polocrosse this year.
The biggest grade of the weekend (in entry numbers, not in size of players or ponies, with players as young as 8 taking part!) was the Minis and it also saw the closest final as it went to golden goal, after the two teams were equal at the end of normal time. It was won by the Area 8 Panthers, made up of members from Essex & Suffolk and Enfield Chace, with Flint and Denbigh finishing second.
A combined North Warwickshire and Dinas Powys team were third, with North Northumberland finishing fourth. A team made up of Llangeinor, Flint & Denbigh and Kent members was fifth, with the Area 8 tigers team (which consisted of Hill Farm EC and Essex and Suffolk players) in sixth. Leia Lloyd Williams of the flint & Denbigh won best player and her pony Romance won best pony.
The Open Juniors featured a number of players who had taken part in the Four Nations competition earlier this year and the standard of play was high. It was won by a combined team made up of Warwickshire Hunt, Dinas Powys and Flint and Denbigh members. United Pack were in second place after a hard fought final. Jess Clarke of the United Pack won best player and Arnie, ridden by Phillip Watney of the United Pack, won best horse. A combined North Down and Warwickshire Hunt team were in third.
The Novice Juniors saw another combined team lift the trophy as West Lancashire County, Warwickshire Hunt and Amman Valley members combined to great effect. The second placed team was made up of Oakley Hunt West, Essex Hunt North and Fletchers Farm EC members, with North Warwickshire in third place. Abigail Davies of the Amman Valley won best player and Bambi, ridden by Georgia Wasdell of the Warwickshire Hunt, won best horse.
The Open Seniors saw some brilliant play from some of the top young players in the country, with all four of the England team members from the Four Nations competing against each other for their branch teams. It was won by North Warwickshire after they beat Rockwood Harriers in the final. Rockwood took the first chukka but then North Warwickshire fought back in the second and third chukkas to win the match. In the third/ fourth play off a combined Ledbury and Croome Hunt team beat a combined Dinas Powys, Swansea and Llangeinor team to seal 3rd place. Katie Loutsiou of the North Warwickshire took best player, while Stuart Dyson of Rockwood Harriers took home the best horse prize for Bumblebee.
The Novice Seniors grade saw some great matches, with lots of new players taking part in their first major tournament. The grade was won by Area 8 after they beat a combined United Pack and Tanatside team in the final. Another combined West Lancashire County and United Pack team were third. Jack Page of the Essex Farmers won best player and also picked up best horse for Voodoo.
There was also a Friends and Families tournament held alongside the event for UKPA members, which saw Arden win the High goal competition against Cotswold. However, Cotswold got their revenge in the Low Goal, were they ended up on top with Arden in second place.
All in all, it was a great weekend, with lots of sunshine and smiles all round, made all the better by the fact it was all put on with only about a month’s notice! Thank you to Dallas Burston for hosting us and to all our amazing volunteers and our great polocrosse secretary Zoe who made it possible.
MINIS (12 years and under, ponies 13.2hh and under)
1st) Area 8 Panthers – Olivia Kirkham & Spot the Button (Essex & Suffolk), Mollie Palmer-O’Donoghue & Pepper Pot (Enfield Chace) and Taryn Tinker & Webster (Essex & Suffolk)
2nd) Flint and Denbigh – Leia Lloyd-Williams & Romance, Daisy Stone & Toshi and Isabella Stone & Freddy
3rd) North Warwickshire Powys – Isabell Lewis & Jester (Dinas Powys), Tegan Jennings & Cyd and Isaac Flint & Verity (North Warwickshire)
4th) North Northumberland – Jasmine Ford & Coco, Talula Mason & Bonnie and Katie Lowdon-King & Quen
5th) Wales and Kent – Alfie Vollans & Treacle Tart (Llangeinor), Ceri Lloyd- Williams & Sparky (Flint & Denbigh) and Rowen Bevins & Newcott Music Boy (Kent)
6th) Area 8 Tigers –Theo Todd & Foxy (Hill Farm EC), Eloise Kirkham & Harley (Essex & Suffolk) and Ali Peck & Bobby (Hill Farm EC)
Best player: Leia Lloyd-Williams (Flint and Denbigh)
Best pony: Romance (Leia Lloyd-Williams – Flint and Denbigh)
NOVICE JUNIORS (15 years and under):
1st) Wales, West Lancs and Warwickshire – Georgia Wasdell & Bambi (Warwickshire Hunt), Summer Mawdsley & Geezer Boy (West Lancashire County) and Abigail Davies & Araucana (Amman Valley & District)
2nd) Essex and Oakley – Xanthe Goodman & Cookie (Essex Hunt North), Emily Champion & Bissy (Fletchers Farm EC) and Lottie Wilson-Fitzgerald & Chill (Oakley Hunt West)
3rd) North Warwickshire – Katinka Frassoni & Catcher, Keeley Rock & Doc and Thalia Poretta & Passion
Best player: Abigail Davies (Amman Valley & District)
Best horse: Bambi (Georgia Wasdell – Warwickshire Hunt)
OPEN JUNIORS (15 years and under):
1st) Wales and Warwickshire – Will Holland & Panchacola (Warwickshire Hunt), Katie Davies & Little V (Flint & Denbigh) and Keegan Jacobs & Pinot (Dinas Powys)
2nd) United Pack – Philip Watney & Arnie, Jess Clarke & Goldspie and Georgia Richardson & Chibbuku
3rd) North Down and Warwickshire – Ashleigh Saunderson & Ardila (North Down), Phoebe Gilan & Anabelle (North Down) and Harriet Wasdell & Arrow (Warwickshire Hunt)
Best player: Jess Clarke (United Pack)
Best horse: Arnie (Philip Watney – United Pack)
NOVICE SENIORS (Players of any age, horses over 13.2hh):
1st) Area 8 – Jack Page & Voodoo (Essex Farmers), Stella Stearn & Lola (Suffolk Hunt) and Xanthe Goodman & Chispita (Essex Hunt North)
2nd) United Pack and Tanatside – Emily Roberts & Irish Coffee (United Pack), Emily Jerman & Brisa (Tanatside) and Cerys Jones (Kazbar)
3rd) United Pack and West Lancs County – Ella Koole & Ciao Bella (West Lancashire County), Charlotte Porter & Meadowfarm Rolo (West Lancashire County) and Sally Watney & Trixie (United Pack)
Best player: Jack Page (Essex Farmers)
Best horse: Voodoo (Jack Page – Essex Farmers)
OPEN SENIORS (Players of any age, horses over 13.2hh):
1st) North Warwickshire – Katie Loutsiou & Naughty, Theo Cornforth & Dita and Danny Woodward & Candyman
2nd) Rockwood Harriers -Stuart Dyson & Bumblebee, Eve Thomason & Horizon and Paige Wilson & Joey
3rd) Ledbury and Croome Hunt – Jack Smith & Luca (Ledbury Hunt), Maisie Slight & Ballyhackett Tara (Croome Hunt) and Josh Smith & Dream (Ledbury Hunt)
4th) Area 10/18 – Malkia Beadle & Brezeta (LLangeinor Hunt), Keegan Jacobs & Hartley (Dinas Powys) and Abi Phillips & Panam (Swansea & District)
Best player: Katie Loutsiou (North Warwickshire)
Best horse: Bumblebee (Stuart Dyson – Rockwood Harriers)
UKPA FRIENDS AND FAMILY TOURNAMENT
1st) Cotswold – Zoe Williams & Diva, Cara Williams & Stumpy and Laura Scott & Rizzla
2nd) Arden – Phil Henshaw & Mahara, Coral Henshaw & Bushpig and Liz Johnson & Skye
3rd) Limemere – Gill James & Gavelina, Tim Batchelor & Malambo and Tim James & Fergus
Best player: Zoe Williams (Cotswold)
Best horse: Diva (Zoe Williams – Cotswold)
1st) Arden – Jacquie Minnaar & Baby, Boy Wilson-Fitzgerald & Courtland and Theo Cornforth & Manzanita
2nd) Cotswold – Sophia Harpin & Bersa, Matt Hale & Koala and Danny Duihig & Bastille
Best Player: Jacquie Minnaar (Arden)
Best Horse: Bersa (Sophia Harpin – Cotswold)