The UK National Championships were overshadowed by tragedy as two horses had to be put down after breaking legs. Firstly Tina, owned by Simon Paynter of Arden, suffered a broken leg as she turned out of the line up and then Guy Robertson’s Lauren Lee also broke a hind leg as she simply pulled up to a stop during a match. Neither horse was in contact with another horse at the time and the accidents did appear to be purely bad luck; the ground was hard but not dangerously so. Out of respect for the horses and players Arden and Highlanders did not play the A grade final which they had qualified for and no A Grade trophy was awarded. The A grade matches which did happen had been very interesting, with Highlanders beating Arden in the group stages but only managing a 15 all draw with Kent, who had themselves lost heavily to Arden.

The B grade final was due to be Pennine versus Pennine but they decided that in the light of the accidents they didn’t want to risk their horses playing against their own club. The two teams of Kent, who were meant to be playing for third and fourth decided likewise and so no B grade prizes were awarded either. The younger second team of Pennine had done well to win their group against the strongest Kent team and get through to the final to face their slighter older first team and shows that Pennine are bringing on some good young players for the future.

With the A grade and B grade not playing it was left to the C grade to provide the last final of the day and provide the crowd with a spectacle and they did not disappoint. Celyn took on Ashfields in a match which ended 14-13 to Celyn and went down right to the wire. Ashfields started better but Celyn pegged them back with good play in particular by Simon Amor to give them a three goal breathing space going into the 5th. However Ashfields fought back and reduced the gap to just one goal at the start of the final chukka and then promptly leveled it up at 13 all. Then nerves seems to take hold as both teams missed chances to score but finally Celyn scored and Ashfields didn’t quite have time to score another equaliser.

In the D grade it was two of the big clubs that clashed, Kent and Arden, showing the strength in depth that these clubs have. Kent picked up the victory, beating Arden in a hard fought final. It was fairly even throughout but then Kent just pulled it out a bit in the last couple of chukkas. Particular praise must go to Lizzie Felce who doubled up and played in both sections throughout the whole tournament.

In the E grade Vale Impi did what they have done for most of the season and won, defeating Welsh Dragons in the final. Vale Impi also managed to pick up most of the best numbers and best horse prizes for the grades, with Chris Chennels and Katie Long in particular doing well as they won Best Male and Lady Player respectively. Vale Impi only formed this year and so seemed delighted to finish their first year with a win and also strong performances in the higher grades.

In the Juniors the young talent of Arden just overcame White Horse, who are another new club this year and who, like Vale Impi, have had a good initial season, with a number of wins in the Juniors. The Primary Juniors was contested by Pennine and Arden and it was Pennine who emerged victorious.

The tragedy of losing Tina and Lauren Lee (who had been champion horse of the season, of the Nationals and of various tournaments countless times) cast a horrible cloud over the prize giving but Tina’s owner, Simon Paynter spoke to urge people to view the tragic accidents in the wider context of the sport. He said that it was deeply unlucky to lose two horses in this manner on the weekend, especially when they seemed to be little reason for it, but people have to remember that throughout the season the excellent safety record of polocrosse in the UK.

Full Results

A Grade
B Grade
C Grade
D Grade
E Grade
Primary Juniors
1st Not Awarded Not Awarded Celyn Kent Vale Impi Arden Pennine
2nd Not Awarded Not Awarded Ashfields Arden Welsh Dragons White Horse Arden
Best Numbers
1) Hamish Michael (Arden) Joel Sics (Pennine) Tom Bowden- Eyre (Vale Impi) Hannah Fletcher (Solent) Henry Christiansen (Vale Impi) James Stansfield (White Horse) Max Pedley (Pennine)
2) Luke Mathie (Highlanders) Tom Beney (Kent) Olivia Foley (Ashfields) Barry Amor (Celyn) Chris Chennels (Vale Impi) Thea Lloyd Jones Josie Cameron (Arden)
3) Sophie Lodder (Arden) Sarah Peaker (Pennine) Emily Gilfillan (Pennine) Bob Sherwood (Kent) Dawn Goodfellow (Welsh Dragons) Katie Newbrook (Pegasus Croome) Katie Kitchen-Dunn (Pennine)
Best Horse Triple Strike – Sophie Lodder Papoose – Sarah Peaker Bailey – Alex Rowley (Pennine) Sarah Newell’s Horse Katy Long’s Horse (Vale Impi) Tia – Katie Newbrook Gilly – Max Pedley
Best Male Player Hamish Michael (Arden) Joel Sics (Pennine) Tom Bowden- Eyre (Vale Impi) Barry Amor (Celyn) Chris Chennells (Vale Impi)
Best Lady Player Sophie Lodder (Arden) Sarah Peaker (Pennine) Olivia Foley (Ashfields) Hannah Fletcher (Solent) Katy Long (Vale Impi)