By Penny Webb
Kent hosted a training day for 50 players and tournament with over 100 competitors representing the majority of UK clubs over the second May Bank Holiday weekend. As one of the first tournaments of the season, Kent always provides a relaxed atmosphere and opportunity to give young horses a run and up and coming players a chance to test their skills against the best in the country.
The Novice Junior section saw some players gaining their first experience of tournament play and all improved dramatically over the weekend. The Kent section won against Arden, but in the remaining games, the teams mixed up to provide fun, even competition. Paige Wilson won Best Player, Sofia Best was Most Improved and Keira Lynch won Best Sportsperson. Xanthe Goodman’s lovely pony, Rosie, won Best Pony.
The Junior division was won by Chiltern, with Kent as Runners Up. Again, all the players made significant improvements over the weekend with some close matches played. Ronnie Smith won Best Player, Drew Followell was Most Improved and Charlie Kish was Best Sportsman. Jake Wilson’s pony, Ringo, won Best Pony in what was his first tournament.
The E Grade was very special this year as it featured a number of players who not only were in their first tournament, but who were playing their first ever chukkas! Congratulations to the winners, Chiltern, but a massive “well done” also goes to runners up Eastern Pennine and third placed Kent. The D Grade was run as a round robin and featured some hard fought matches between Kent, Limemere, Chiltern, Rugby and Cotswolds. Rugby ran out the winners, although they were hard pressed by Limemere who look like they will be a force to be reckoned with in this grade as the season progresses.
The C grade was run as a Super-8, with Cotswold running out convincing winners of the Plate winners in the final against a Kent team. In the Cup competition, the result could not have got closer, with Charlie Hewitt scoring a goal in the dying seconds of the game to ensure the hosts took top spot against a strong Three Counties section. There were some strong performances from the youngsters throughout this division, with Lauren O’Malley from Ireland and Leila Franzen being awarded Best Player prizes, but Kate Henning proved experience is still a valuable commodity with her Best No.2 award.
The B grade was peppered with UK Junior and Senior players and a few foreign accents, making for an exciting and close competition. In the final, Welsh Dragons looked to be running away with it as Victorian import, Jesse Walsh, pumped through the goals with surprising accuracy given his Sunday night performance at the bar. However, UK World Cup player Debbie Harris fought back in the last chukka and showed she can also throw goals from anywhere. With one goal in it, time ran out for Three Counties and Welsh Dragons took home the prizes.
The A grade was dominated by Highlanders who look to be forming a very strong team this season. This grade was also played as a Super-8, and after a couple of shock results in the first round coupled with strong performances by the two Highlanders sections in the semi-finals, it meant the Cup Final was played between these two teams. With Travis Timm in both sections, Rachael Duhig stepped in and with Charlotte Pykett in flying form as her No.3 and Alex Richardson at No.2, showed the girls can match the men. In the lead with two minutes to play in the final chukka, Rachael took a tumble and a knock to the head. Fortunately she was given the all clear and no doubt will be keen to get back on Lola as quickly as possible to carry on where she left off. The Plate competition saw the Kent section of Jason Webb, Jake Hall and Matt Smith beat Welsh Dragons in a competitive final.
The Kent Club would like to thank everyone who came to visit and all their club members who ran such a great weekend. They are looking forward to next year’s tournament when they will be celebrating 20 years of Kent Target Polocrosse Club!
|Sea Breeze (Jason Webb)
|Diva (Daisy Adamson)
|Horizon (Charlie Hewitt)
|Buddy (Liz Johnson)
|Mahari (Tara Bishop)
|Ringo (Jake Wilson)
|Rosie (Xanthe Goodman)