National success for Warwick’s high-flying Polo club

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The University of Warwick Polo Club is celebrating two more sets of national champions following last weekend’s SUPA Winter Nationals. Warwick took 8 teams to the tournament, and enjoyed fantastic results across the board, with Novice 2 and Beginner B emerging triumphant in their respective divisions.

The Novice 2nds, made up of Jo Winter (capt.), Jamie Whiteley and Will Ormerod maintained strong form across their first 3 matches and cruised into the final against Kent University on Saturday evening. After a hard fought chukka, the scores were tied and the national title came down to sudden death penalties. Warwick supporters were on the edge of their seats, and after two rounds of penalties the scores incredibly remained tied.

Everything came down to Jo Winter. Renowned for her clear head, Jo stepped up to take the penalty that could win her first ever title for the club – and scored it. The team took home the division shield, some stash from SUPA sponsors RJ Polo and a healthy amount of Warwick pride.

Ara Shikhalislami (capt.), Sam Dunstan and Hebe Hewitt of Beginner B rose to the occasion at their first ever national tournament and were the ones to watch from day one, after a cracking 5-0 win over Cambridge in their first chukka. Following two more victories, they found themselves in the final against Birmingham on Sunday afternoon.

After a tense and extremely competitive match, the team emerged with a 2-1 victory and a national title, taking home the division shield and copies of the Polo Times. Having only taken up the sport in October, their performance was truly impressive and is a testament to their hard work. Shikhalislami said, ‘It was undoubtedly intimidating to be in such a huge polo tournament, but we were well prepared and did our best’ and noted that his team’s success was ‘more rewarding than winning any other sport I’ve ever played’.

The Beginner B team, from left, Sam Dunstan, Hebe Hewitt, Ara Shikhalislami. Photo: Daisy Kemp.

The Beginner B team, from left, Sam Dunstan, Hebe Hewitt, Ara Shikhalislami. Photo: Daisy Kemp.

Strong performances were also displayed in the other divisions, with Warwick repeatedly seen as the club to beat. The Novice 1a team of Matt Lloyd (capt.), Daisy Kemp and Oli Rintoul-Hoad won 3 of 4 matches and finished in 4th place, an impressive result and a strong first appearance in the Novice division for Lloyd.

Beginner C also recorded 3 out of 4 wins, unfortunately losing their first match and thus missing out on a placing despite Yeo Ling Xi (capt.) leading Marco Ford and Jabin Hall/Mads Povlsen to some huge victories over the weekend. Alongside Beginner A, captained by Jess Lowe, they seem in good stead to dominate at the SUPA Summer Nationals in June.

Impressive results were also in evidence in the Novice 3 and 4 teams, who at one stage came face to face in a fast-paced and competitive match. Nov 3, captained by Harriet Hope, edged out their Warwick rivals, but the 4s were not to be disheartened and went on to win their final chukka against Dundee & Angus by a massive 4-0 margin, with captain April Merrick slotting home 2 goals and 2 penalties with ease.

Finally, Novice 1 demonstrated some excellent polo across the tournament, and were unlucky to miss out on a higher placing despite their formidable play. Their highlights must surely include a huge 4-0 victory over Cambridge in which captain Will Blair and reliable acrobat Marcus Williams took a tumble within minutes of each other. Luckily, no harm was done and both boys live to ride another day… and hopefully to take a national title in the summer.

A massive congratulations must be extended to all who played, especially to the national champions! With such a wealth of talent and commitment in the ranks, the club looks set to go from strength to strength, and we look forward to retaining our form in June.

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