A stunning individual haul of seven goals from Argentine veteran Bartoleme Castagnola helped Desert Palm clinch the prestigious 19th edition of the HH President of the UAE Polo Cup at Ghantoot Polo & Racing Club with a 10-7 beating of the UAE. The tournament is held in the name of UAE President, HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and under the patronage of HH Sheikh Falah bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Presented by Premier Motors Maserati, the tournament is governed by Abu Dhabi Sports Council and held in association with Emirates Polo Association. Bartoleme, formerly a ten goal player, who currently has a six goal handicap, was in fine form throughout the tournament and had scored 20 goals en route to the final.
Desert Palm were beaten just once during the tournament when they were edged 8-7 by Zedan during a pool phase match. On the other hand they had beaten the UAE before when scoring an 11-10 success over them in their campaign opener, the only blemish for the UAE on their way to the knockout phase. The final lived up to its billing as a tense affair with the teams tied 1-1 at the end of the first chukka. Desert Palm went ahead 3-1 at the end of the second period as Bartoleme was soon into the swing of things and scored twice. He followed up with three goals in the third chukka and a further two strikes in the fourth which brought his side to the final chukka with a three goal cushion at 9-6. With both teams scoring a goal each, the match ended at 10-7.
Camilo Castagnola fired a brace and Refino Bensadon added another for Desert Palm, while Alejandro Muzzio scored twice and Tomy Panelo slotted the rest for the UAE, who had HH Sheikha Maitha bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum as its patron. Desert Palm patron, Rashid Al Bawardi said: “First of all, I want to thank Ghantoot for organising such a great tournament. “The atmosphere was great and drew a good crowd who were with us all the way to the end. “UAE are one of the best teams in the country for a reason and they showed it in the final with a strong performance. “I also want to thank my team for the consistency they have shown all through the tournament. We only lost one game, so that was good. We look forward to playing more exciting and competitive matches and good luck to all the teams for the future.”
The subsidiary final was won by hosts Ghantoot, who beat Abu Dhabi 9-8. Faris Al Yabhouni (Abu Dhabi) and Juan Zavaleta (Ghantoot) top scored in that game with four goals apiece. Sheikh Falah said: “The affection for horses is an intrinsic part of our cultural heritage from which we have taken the inspiration to create an environment that upholds our traditional values which is reflected in the forward looking venue we have created at Ghantoot. “Every year, we proudly present professional polo tournaments such as the HH The President of the UAE Polo Cup to the fans in the UAE. However, the success of the tournament is greatly due to the support and commitment of our valued partners.”