Cowdray Park’s oldest trophy dating back to 1911 was entered by four teams in 2016 with Apes Hill and BHC making it to the Final.
Playing for Sir Charles Williams’ Apes Hill were 13 year old Luke Wiles at number 1, Nicolas Antinori (5 goals) at 2, Mark Tomlinson (6 goals) at 3 and Luke Tomlinson (7 goals) at Back. Momin Sheikh’s BHC saw three 6 goal players in a balanced line-up of Chris Mackenzie at number 2, Jack Richardson at 3 and James Harper at Back.
Jack Richardson scored for BHC within moments of the first chukka opening and solid defensive play prevented Apes Hill from equalizing until the end of the chukka with a 30 yard penalty sent through by Luke Tomlinson. Chukka 2 saw James Harper respond with a 30 yard penalty. A free hit saw Luke Tomlinson fire a big shot forward, all the Apes Hill players made a dash for the goal and it was young Luke Wiles who sent the ball home to level out the scores at 2-2. From the throw-in Mackenzie charged off with the ball,fending off the Apes Hill defence until he sent the ball between the posts ending the chukka with BHC 3-2 ahead. A goal for each side in chukka 3 saw BHC remain 4-3 ahead.
Shortly into the second half Mark Tomlinson seized the ball and raced all the way to the goal to level the scores on 4-4. Following a super feed from his brother, Mark was able to make another excellent field goal to take Apes Hill into the lead for the first time. Their attacking play continued to dominate the action and BHC were drawn into giving away a penalty which enabled Luke Tomlinson to score from 30 yards taking Apes Hill onto 6-4. BHC won the throw-in and Mackenzie and Richardson surged towards the goal, but Luke Wiles defending on the line made sure they didn’t score. The final chukka started with a throw-in in BHC’s half. Luke Tomlinson secured the ball and weaved his way round Richardson to move Apes Hill’s score on to 7-4. Still in the thick of the action, young Wiles made another brave attempt at goal but the ball went wide. A shot from Harper also went wide and there was another hit-in. This time Mackenzie swooped on the ball, turned it, headed for the goal posts but lost it on the way. Richardson swept it up and sent it through the posts and the score was 7-5. Apes Hill hung onto the lead and Sir Charles Williams fulfilled his long-held dream of winning the Cowdray Park Challenge Cup.
Lila Pearson was delighted to present the historic Cup to Sir Charles and prizes sponsored by Casablanca to both teams. Mark Tomlinson won The Polo Magazine’s award for Most Valuable Player and his pony Silk was awarded the Vickers Trophy for Best Playing Pony together with a rug from Polo Times magazine.