MEDIA RELEASE. DECEMBER 2018
THRILLING TRIUMPH FOR SHAIKH MAITHA’S UAE TEAM IN 18TH EMIRATES OPEN POLO CHAMPIONSHIP INTERNATIONAL
Gallant Ghantoot Polo Team narrowly beaten by Tommy Panelo golden-goal in extra chukker
Argentine teen sensation Tommy Panelo delivered the performance of a lifetime to help Shaikha Maitha Bint Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s UAE Polo Team over-come a gritty Ghantoot in a cliffhanger final of the 18th Emirates Open Polo Championship International on Friday evening.
Panelo, 18, scored an incredible eight goals, including the ‘golden goal’ match-winner in the sixth and extra chukker at the Ghantoot Racing & Polo Club, to gift the UAE Team victory by 10 goals to nine.
With the scores tied at 9-9 at the end of the fifth and final chukker, it was down to the sudden-death tie-breaker, where the UAE players, led by the tireless Shaikha Maitha, held their nerve to prize out a remarkable victory.
Shaikha Maitha summed up the match perfectly when she said: “(This was) one the toughest most enjoyable finals. There wasn’t a point during the game where we felt safe.
“Minute by minute, play for play, goal for goal! It was the most competitive, clean, fast, open finals I’ve experienced.
“Team Ghantoot is a force, super mounted with a lot of horse power and last night was a horse race! It was so close, we got the winning goal in the extra chukker,” Shaikha Maitha added
“It could’ve gone either way and that’s what made it so exciting!
Panelo echoed Shaika Maitha’s sentiments when he said: “This is such an amazing feeling, to win such a prestigious tournament is unbelievable.
“Shaikha Maitha is a great team leader and continually inspired us to raise our game, from the start of the tournament. I felt great today, full of confidence, and I think that helped me deliver such a strong effort.
“”I could not have done this without the support from such talented players like Fede Pobosky and Nacho Acuna. Polo is not an individual sport, it’s all about team work, and I think that’s where we excelled,” he added.
“But full credit to the Ghantoot Polo Team. They played a fantastic game today and I believe that we were just as good as each other on the day. In the end we got a little bit lucky. But, yes, it was an honour and privilege to play against guys like Yousef (Bin Dasmal), Bautastia (Beguiere), Cesar (Crespo) and Martin (Donovan).
Panelo picked up the Professional Player of the Final award, while Bin Dasmal was adjudged the Best Emirati Player of the Final.
“Congratulations to Shaikha Maitha and her team,” said Bin Dasmal. “They played a good strategic game. We lost to them earlier but we came here determined to do better. The whole team played a fantastic match, it was touch and go all the way. But in sport there is only one winner and today it was UAE Polo Team.”
The chief guest at the final as Shaikh Sultan Bin Falah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, son of HH Shaikh Falah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Founder and Chairman of the Ghantoot Racing & Polo Club.
Also in attendance was Shaikh Khalid Bin Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy National Security Adviser.
UAE had beaten Ghantoot 8-6 in the opening game of the tournament two weeks ago, but it appeared that the hosts had found the formula to gain revenge when they led their rivals 4-2 midway through the second chukker, 5-4 in the third and 9-8 in the fifth.
However, every time the UAE stormed back with goals by Panelo, who struck a back-hand beauty in the fifth, and Pobosky.
It was a masterful display by both teams that had the large crowd on the edge of their seats or rushing forward to watch the action close on the sidelines.
Ahmed Al Nuaimi, Managing Director of the Ghantoot Racing & Polo Club, said: “Congratulations to the UAE Team and Her Highness Shaikha Maitha on winning the 18th emirates Open Polo Championship International.
“It was a delight to see the positivity and skills that they brought to Ghantoot today It was clear for all to see that they were well prepared, fired up and gave one hundred percent.
“Ghantoot is proud to have hosted such a high quality tournament which featured some of the best polo players in the world, and the UAE. We will continue to support the sport of polo and we look forward to the New Year with great enthusiasm,” he added.
“I also would like to thank all our sponsors for their continuous support for without their backing Ghantoot Polo & Racing Club will not be able to host such prestigious and exciting events.
“I take this opportunity to wish all of them, our patrons, players, officials and fans, a very happy 2019!.”
Abu Dhabi Sports Council was the Governing Parter a d Premier Motors Masters, the Official Car.
UAE Polo Team beat Ghantoot Polo Team 10-9 (Golden Goal)
UAE: Tommy Paneol 8, Fede Pobosky 2, Nacho Acuna 1
Ghantoot: Bautista Beguerie 3, Cesar Crespo 2, Martin Donovan 2.
Abu Dhabi Sports Council
Premier Motors Maserati
Golden Tulip Al Jazira
Ahmed Al Maghribi
Noor Al Wasl Clinic
Avisa General Trading
Bin Ham Travels
Premier Events and Management
Monviso Italian Mineral Water
UAE Polo Team
Abu Dhabi Polo Team
Ghantoot Polo Team
Al Habtooor Polo Team
Desert Palm Polo Team
At A Glance
What: Emirates Open Polo Championshiop Internatioanl
When: December 8 to 21
Where: Ghantoot Racing & Polo Club
FORTHCOMING EVENTS AT GHANTOOT
January 25: Red Crescent Charitable Polo Match
March 13-25: HH President of UAE Polo Cup
April 6: British Polo Day