Sainte-Mesme after a rough battle
The French team Sainte-Mesme added, for the second time, their name to the prestigious winners of the Paprec French Open, robbing In The Wings of the French Triple-Crown after an insane game that excited the 2000 spectators come to enjoy this gorgeous day of sport. On the women side, it’s the team DS Automobile, led by the World No 2, the British Nina Clarkin, who seized the trophy after the most competitive tournament out of the seven editions of the French Feminine Open.
The games between Sainte-Mesme and In The Wings are become a Clásico in France, a saying affirmed by Robert Strom, and which we could hardly argue. The two teams face each other regularly, especially in this French Open, just like in 2009 where Sainte-Mesme won their first final. During the zone games, the two teams played against one another and once again, In The Wings had to bow down to its French opponent, with only one goal of difference after a spectacular game. “This time, the match was a bit less open” acknowledged the young Sainte-Mesme captain, Robert Storm, one of the best players in France with a Handicap 5. “A final is always more hooked, it was a more violent, a closed game of polo. In The Wings is one the great team in France and when we face them, it always lead to very good games. Santiago Cernadas and Pelayo Berazadi played really well. We were aware of the competitiveness of our opponent, the players won together in Deauville whereas, on our side we never played together before. But we knew each other very well and we get along perfectly outside of the field. I was convinced that this team will work!” Therefore, Robert Strom and his teammates took In The Wings to the throat, starting the first part of the game perfectly, which they after dominated entirely. After the third chukker, Santiago Cernadas involuntarily hit, with his own mallet, the hand of the backbone of their opponent team, Pancho Bensadon. It really wasn’t a bad move, as it was not targeted, but the player had to be excluded for two minutes, an action that allowed In The Wings to score a goal and equalized the points.
The end of the game gave place to a harsh battle where Sainte-Mesme took back the advantage, while Pancho and his son Rufino Bensadon fought and multiplied the hard shocks that the French players pushed one at the time on the defensive. Once more, the Clásico ended on a small difference: 10 to 9. “This victory is important for us” said the Robert Strom, “because it has been too long since we won this tournament. Since 2009, year of our first win, we only played one other final in 2014, lost in an additional period. We were starting to get impatient!”
Best horse of the final: Venuziana,8 years-old Argentinian mare, ridden by Pancho Besadon and bred by Javier Tanoira
In The Wings: Rufino Bensadon (ARG, H4), Alfonso Pieres (ARG, H4), Pancho Bensadon ARG, H8) a André Fabre, (FRA, H0)
Sainte Mesme : Robert Strom (FRA H5), Santiago Cernadas (ARG, H6), Pelayo Berazadi (ESP, H5) and Rafael Cabezas (ESP, H0)
Feminine Open: Nina Clarkin, worthy of her reputation.
Never a feminine tournament was at such a high level: eight teams, the three best players in the world, a final just as fought as the men’s and won (9-7) by the only Handicap 10 within the women players, the British Nina Clarkin. “A perfect polo, always in a forward movement, but mostly, she never commits any faults” commented the World No 1 Lia Salvo, eliminated by the British in the semi-final. This match was also a more private duel between the two best British players Nina Clarkin for DS Automobiles and Hazel Jackson for Engels &Völkers Why Not: the ladies didn’t disappoint, and face one another regularly in direct confrontations, without any concession. “It’s the first time I play in Chantilly”, declared the British, logically named the best player of the finale. It was my first time playing in Chantilly and I thought the fields were fantastic and the experience great. Really good to have the top three women players in the world playing and a really great standard of polo The final was really tough but a great game with end for end runs and lots of goals. They played really well but we managed to take back the lead at the end of the second and hold on - phew!! My team went great and we stuck to our game plan and stayed focus.”
A amazing sport show discovered by a great crowd: 2000 people gathered around the field of honour on this sunny Sunday. And behind this successful sportive day, there is a team: the one around Benoit and Philippe Perrier, the masterminds of those two particularly competitive French Open.
Best horse of the final: Basil, 11 years old, ridden and bred by par Nina Clarkin
Engels &Völkers Why Not: Hana Grill Zavaletta (AUS, H4), Hazel Jackson (GBR, H8), Lea Siboni (FRA, H2) and Sabrina Bradley (GBR, H2)
Ds Automobiles: Lucy Coddington(GBR, H5), Susanne Rosenkranz (ALL, H1), Angela Robb (GBR, H0) and Nina Clarkin (GBR, H10)