Team UAE finding rhythm as hosts close on polo final
Team UAE continued their successful start to the Ralph Lauren International Ladies Polo Tournament by posting a second straight victory, taking out Team Europe B 11–7.5 at the Desert Palm in Dubai.
Captained by Sheikha Maitha bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Team UAE managed to recover from the 5.5 handicap that was given to Team Europe B and score six goals to lead 6–5.5 in the third chukka before the opposition struck back to take a half-point lead.
Sheikha Maitha, along with her team-mates Marianela Castagnola, Camilla Rossi and Saskiya Meadows, hit the cruise control button in the fourth chukka, scoring five more goals to take a 5.5 goal lead.
Team Europe B got a consolation goal in the final moments but it was not enough as the home side edged closer to the Friday final.
“The team is getting better because it’s our second game, so as soon as we start to know each other, we use each player better,” Argentina’s Castagnola told Sport360°.
“We aren’t shy to communicate so everybody’s communicating well. We’re improving and I’m really happy with the team. It’s working out the way I thought it would.”
The earlier match saw Team Europe A shake off their day one defeat to claim victory over Team Asia, which includes the world’s most accomplished polo player, Sunny Hale.
Team Europe A, led by Princess Anna Oettingen-Wallerstein of Germany, sealed the win 5.5–2.
“Yesterday we had to play against Sheikha Maitha and she came out on form with her team and we sadly lost, but it was a good game.
“Today, we knew, both Sarah (Wiseman) and I, my team-mate, we play against Sunny Hale quite a lot and we knew we have to come out hard because she’s the best woman on this planet playing polo,” said Claire Donnelly of Team Europe A.
“The other girls are super strong too. So we kind of sat down and talked a lot of strategy. Sarah and I play a lot together, so we slightly changed the strategy this time – I played behind her, so I was passing her the ball and she was running because we knew what our horses could do and could not do.
“Anna did some amazing backhand shots, Christine (Thome) did some amazing saves and passes. We’re super pleased that we have a win which puts us in a better state to get to the final.”
Thursday’s action sees a marquee match-up between Team UAE and Team Asia, while the two Europe teams will play each other.