The UKPA National Championships took place at Onley Grounds on the 24th to the 26th of August under changeable skies and saw changeable fortunes for Kent Target in particular. They lost the A grade final to Highlanders in the final chukka after leading for most of the match but then did lift the overall Nationals Cup, though only after it had been wrongly awarded to Arden at prize giving.
Overall, across the grades there was a good mix of clubs picking up prizes, though it was Kent and Arden who won the most grades and best numbers. Across the nine grades of play they accumulated 5 wins and 4 second places between them, picked up 12 of the 27 best numbers and 3 of the best horse prizes. However, there were also some placings for the other two big clubs, Cotswold and Celyn, and also smaller clubs such as Yorkshire Warriors, Northern Lions and Limemere Sparks.
However, it was the smallest club of them all that once again lifted the A grade title. Highlanders only play A grade but they do play it very well and their chosen six players managed to grab a third consecutive title under some rare Sunday sunshine. They did it by a whisker though and will be forever grateful for Jack Brown seemingly getting the yips in the last chukka. Kent’s gun number one, who is normally a portrait of reliability, had been duly delivering all game but dragged two goals wide in the final chukka. Either one would have probably forced at least a golden goal but as it was turnover ball went to the Highlanders and they duly added to their own tally down the other end. By the middle of the game it had looked like Kent would end their A grade drought (they last won in 2015) with their stronger section, which included Jason Webb, doing the Highlanders some damage and the other section keeping things fairly even. However, Highlanders fought back hard in the latter stages with Max Pedley and Joel Sics combining to pump through some fast goals and set up the last chukka, where Highlanders capitalised on Kent’s mistakes and made none of their own to seize a narrow victory.
In the B grade it was Arden’s year. Arden’s B grade team has remained relatively unchanged the last couple of years and have got better with each year. After a couple of frustrating years it finally came right for them at Nationals. They won their pool and then beat Cotswold reasonably comfortably in the final in some very wet and muddy conditions which seemed to bother Cotswold more than it did Arden who picked up well on the heavily cut up turf. Arden also did a good job keeping Cotswold’s danger man of Hugh Ralli relatively quiet throughout the match, with Charlotte Winder marking him hard and forcing errors. Chris Milburn picked up best number 1 after a very strong display all weekend and Amy Harper got best number 2 for her performance behind him. Dom White grabbed best number 3 for Cotswold.
In the Upper C grade Cotswold did get their revenge on Arden though as they reversed the B grade positions to finish in top spot. The Upper C grade was a round robin competition and Cotswold won all their games over the weekend reasonably comfortable with Laurie Cam and Bella Bradford shining as they picked up best number 1 andf best number 3 respectively. Arden only lost to Cotswold, though they had performed a minor miracle to avoid defeat to Kent on the opening day when they came back from 5 goals down in the last chukka to steal a win. Boy Wilson Fitzgerald was the pick of their players and he won best number 2.
In the Lower C grade it was some of the smaller clubs who shone brightest, with a combined Yorkshire Warriors and Northern Lions team overcoming Limemere Sparks. Ciaran Heagney in particular had a good weekend for the Yorkshire Warriors, picking up best number 1 and Wrangler picking up best horse in the grade.
In the D grade it was Kent who got the win. They beat Arden by a reasonable margin the final, with Charlottte Pym and Amanda Wasdell performing well. Arden’s team (a number of who were in Rugby’s D grade winning team last year) fought to the end but Kent were the more consistent of the two teams and made their chances count to build themselves a lead and then maintain it to the end.
In the E grade it was Arden’s turn again as their young E grade section proved too strong for all comers and then defeated Limemere’s section in a hard fought final that ebbed and flowed between the two teams, before Arden finally won it in the last chukka. Limemere did pick up best number 1 though through Christian Baker.
There was no stopping Kent’s junior team who defeated all their opponents over the weekend to win the Open Junior title. They also picked up most of the individual plaudits, with Eve Thomason getting best number 1, Alice Power getting best number 2 and Mororcha (ridden by Jack Webb) getting best horse. Yorkshire Warriors and Northenr Lions again had a combined team in this grade and they picked up second spot.
What Kent did in the Open Juniors Celyn did in the Novice Juniors, winning all their matches to emerge victorious. Rob Ferguson and Mila had a great weekend, picking up best number 1 and best horse, and Georgia Richardson picked up best number 3. A mixed team finished second and Katinka Frassoni of Limemere, who was part of that team, won best number 2.
In the Primary Juniors it was a battle between Kent and Arden again and again Kent came out on top. Harriet Wasdell, who was in her last year of Primary Juniors, and her trusty pony, Banana, were on great form as they lead the Kent attack. Other Primary Juniors teams will probably breath a sigh of relief that they won’t have to face this combination again next season. Harriet duly picked up best number 1 and was ably supported by Rosie Webb, who won best number 2, and her sister Georgia Wasdell, who won best pony for Spotty. Lottie Wilson Fitzgerald of Arden picked up best number 3 for her displays.
Overall it was a great three days of competition with some magnificent polocrosse on displays across the grades. even the heavy rain on Sunday could not really dampen people’s spirits too much and the horses and players coped very well on the muddy pitches. Well done to all the winners!
UKPA National Championships 2018 Results
Nationals Trophy – Kent Target
Best Overall Horse – Chispa (Jack Brown)
Best U14 – Boy Wilson-Fitzgerald
Best U16 (Bombers Trophy) – Josh Smith
Best U21 – Jack Brown
Best Male Veteran – Peter Fielden
Best Female Veteran – Kerry Bean
Kirsch Cup – Taryn Tinker & Webster
Flecha Peron (Best Veteran Horse) – Serocco (Cara Williams)
Most Improved – Zoe Williams
Best Retrained Racehorse – Quandeel (Kerry Bean)
Tony Shearing Memorial Award – Hamish Gillanders
Upper C Grade
Lower C Grade
|1st||Highlanders||Arden||Cotswold||Yorkshire Warriors/ Northern Lions||Kent Target||Arden||Kent Target||Celyn||Kent Target|
|2nd||Kent Target||Costwold||Arden||Limemere Sparks||Arden||Limemere Sparks||Yorkshire Warriors/ Northern Lions||Mix||Arden|
|Best Number 1||Jack Brown (Kent Target)||Chris Milburn (Arden)||Laurie Cam (Cotswold)||Ciaran Heagney (Yorkshire Warriors)||Jess Joslin (Arden)||Christian Baker (Limemere Sparks)||Eve Thomason (Kent Target)||Rob Ferguson (Celyn)||Harriet Wasdell (Kent Target)|
|Best Number 2||Joe Marsh (Kent Target)||Amy Harper (Arden)||Boy Wilson Fitzgerald (Arden)||Hayley Marsh (Cotswold)||Rowan Saunders (Arden)||Luke Ralli (Cotswold)||Alice Power (Kent Target)||Katinka Frassoni (Limemere Sparks)||Rosie Webb (Kent Target)|
|Best Number 3||Joel Sics (Highlanders)||Dom White (Cotswold)||Bella Bradford (Cotswold)||Laura Scott (Cotswold)||Amanda Wasdell (Kent Target)||Amanda Alderson (Northern Lions)||Kate Tranter (Arden)||Georgia Richardson (Celyn)||Lottie Wilson Fitzgerald (Arden)|
|Best Horse||Sea Breeze (Jason Webb - Kent Target)||Grace (Claudia Richardson - Cotswold)||Reba (Laurie Cam - Cotswold)||Wrangler (Ciaran Heagney)||Papaya (Madi Kish - Kent Target)||V (Luke Ralli - Cotswold)||Morocha (Jack Webb - Kent Target)||Mila (Rob Ferguson - Celyn)||Spotty (Georgia Wasdell - Kent Target)|