La Familia wins 2019 Thai Polo Open in 7 goal thriller

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Malaysia’s La Familia team members celebrate with the trophy after winning the 2019 Thai Polo Open championship.
Malaysia’s La Familia team members celebrate with the trophy after winning the 2019 Thai Polo Open championship.

The 2019 Thai Polo Open, one of the most important polo competitions in Asia, reached its climax last Saturday, January 19. The prestigious tournament, held at Thai Polo & Equestrian Club in Pattaya, saw four international teams compete for the title and the tournament also marked the beginning of the Royal Malaysian Polo Association International League 2019, which continues in Malaysia in August, with the three remaining tournaments being the Royal Selangor Polo Club Open, el RMPA Classic and the RMPA International League Final.

The Thai Polo Open final formed part of a spectacular day of sport and the weather in Pattaya made the event even more enjoyable. Guests began arriving around noon and were invited to a delicious lunch, boasting a variety of local and international dishes. The highlight of the day was to be the final contest between Malaysia’s La Familia and home team Thai Polo, but there were many activities organized prior to the big match.

Thailand’s national showjumping team gave a fine display of their equestrian skills.
Thailand’s national showjumping team gave a fine display of their equestrian skills.

Around 1:30pm the Wat Suthi Wararam Marching Band entertained guests with delightful music before an exciting show jumping competition displayed the best of the discipline. Charity kiosks, merchandise and refreshment stalls, raffles, children’s games, haircuts, and pony rides made it a day for all the family to enjoy.

The final match was very competitive right from the start of the first chukka. Both teams fought tooth and nail to gain possession but Thai Polo took the lead through Facundo Fernández Llorente, only for Mohamed Moiz to tie the match for La Familia in the second chukka, making it 1-1 at half time. In the third period, Carlos Pando and Matías Vial both scored, meaning that the match was tied going into the fourth and final chukka.

The last period was as dramatic and intense as ever. Shaik Reismann scored for La Familia, but when it seemed like everything was done and dusted, and that the trophy would fly back to Malaysia, Facundo Fernández Llorente broke away, scoring to tie the match once again. This forced the final into extra time.

Thai Polo had the chance at glory but Llorente missed from a 60-yard penalty and the visitors capitalized, earning a spot penalty of their own which was converted by Chilean player Matias Vial to give Familia a 4 to 3 victory and the coveted title.

The third place match was earlier won by 22BR from Hong Kong over AXUS from China.

Spectators enjoy a thrilling final match between Thai Polo and La Familia.
Spectators enjoy a thrilling final match between Thai Polo and La Familia.

Another annual feature of the event is to give 2 category awards to honorable guests. The awards this year went to Violette Gauthier for winning the “Best Hat” category and Miss Susolossa Jaojansakoon for the “Best Dress”.

The event was brought to a fitting close with a vibrant display of fireworks that astounded the guests to be followed by the prize giving ceremony of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn’s Cup and gala dinner party.

The Wat Suthi Wararam Marching Band provided a musical prelude to the polo action.
The Wat Suthi Wararam Marching Band provided a musical prelude to the polo action.

This year’s tournament marked the 15th annual event organized by Dr. Harald Link, President of B.Grimm Group and President of the Thailand Equestrian Federation. Funds raised will be donated to Chitralada Vocational School.

Violette Gauthier’s self-made creation won her the day’s ‘Best Hat’ award.
Violette Gauthier’s self-made creation won her the day’s ‘Best Hat’ award.
Colorfully-attired guests enjoy the atmosphere.
Colorfully-attired guests enjoy the atmosphere.
Thai Polo and La Familia battle for possession in the thrilling final.
Thai Polo and La Familia battle for possession in the thrilling final.