THE MCLAREN CUP met with a fitting finale at the Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club last Friday with Pablo Mac Donough turning up with another brilliant performance for winners Zedan polo team. Zedan’s victory in the tournament, which is the first of the five competition 2018 Dubai Polo Gold Cup Series, was down to Mac Donough, a ten goaler superstar from Argentina, converting a 30 yard penalty in the dying moments of the showpiece match against Bin Drai. The Argentine was spot on with his attempt and as the ball rolled between the posts, Zedan polo knew they had nailed the grand prize with a 9-8.5 victory.
It was Zedan polo’s fifth straight success in a Dubai Polo Gold Cup Series event after their success in the Gold Cup (2015 and 2017) and the Silver Cup (2016 and 2018). The 18 goal handicap competition saw Bin Drai fighting hard to win and take a slender lead going into the final chukka, but the talent of Mac Donough proved just too much and with a bit of luck Zedan prevailed. It was an exciting game with Bin Drai leading 2.5-1 at the end of the first chukka before a goal blitz from Zedan saw the score go up 6-2.5 to them. Bin Drai scored twice in the third period and a further three in the fourth chukka and with Zedan quiet all the while, led 7.5-6 going into the final period before Mac Donough helped Zedan have the last laugh with his magical mallet.
Bin Drai’s Raul Laplacette would have been disappointed to have seen his five goal effort go down the drain, but as a consolation, he and his horse Cruzeiro were adjudged the Most Valuable Player and Best Playing Pony of the final respectively. Earlier in the day, Al Habtoor polo beat UAE 11-8 for the Hildon Cup, which is a consolation prize for the winner of the third place play-off. Bautista Urbina and Polito Pieres scored five goals each for their respective sides, Habtoor Polo and UAE. Habtoor led from start to finish with the UAE valiantly cutting the deficit from time to time during the course of the five chukkas. The McLaren Cup is part of the Dubai Polo Gold Cup Series which includes the ongoing Polo Masters Cup, The Julius Baer Gold Cup, Dubai Challenge Cup and the Dubai Cup.
The series is the fourth largest tournament of its kind after Argentina, the United States and the United Kingdom, and Mohammed Al Habtoor, the Series’ founder and patron of the Habtoor Polo team said: “This year’s tournament is witnessing some of the world’s top ranked polo players in action including Pablo Mac Donough, Polito Pieres, Ezequiel Martinez Ferrario, Francisco Elizalde and many others who have come directly from the Argentine Open.” Mahra Polo and Wolves Polo were the other teams to participate in the McLaren Cup.