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Bin 26 win polo final
Orville Clarke, Gleaner Writer
Defending champions Bin 26 made it two in a row with a decisive 4 1/2 to three win over Scotia Private Client Group in the final of the Jamaica Open Polo tournament, sponsored by Scotia Private Client Group, at the Kingston Polo Club, Caymanas Estates, on Sunday.
The large crowd, which included Tourism Minister Ed Bartlett, Industry and Commerce Minister Karl Samuda and Justice Minister Senator Dorothy Lightbourne, was treated to some exciting polo, both in the final and the consolation final between the losing semi-finalists Jamaica Pegasus and American Airlines.
Thanks to a 11/2-point handicap from the Scotia Private Client team (12-goal high), Bin 26 (10-goal high) started in front and were never headed.
Craig Russell increased the lead two minutes into the first chukka to give Bin 26 a 21/2 to zero lead. The goal was conceived by captain Lesley Fong Yee, who carried the ball deep into enemy territory, before relaying to teammate Craig Russell, who made no mistake from 15 metres out.
However, with less than a minute to go in the first chukka, Scotia's Mitta Rousseau scored after a long run on the left flank.
In the second chukka, Russell again put his name on the scoresheet hitting a long shot from 30 metres out, despite being hard pressed by Scotia's captain, Paul Lalor, in a keen tussle for the ball.
Bin 26 led 31/2 to one at this stage and although Scotia came back strongly in the third chukka with two unanswered goals from the resident Argentinean pro Jorge Donovan, Bin 26 got the winner through the visiting English pro, Jamie Le Hardy, midway the last chukka.
He produced a solo run on the left flank, tapping home to give the Devon House-based Bin 26 (Wine Bar) their second straight hold on the Scotia Private Client Trophy.
The winning team comprised Fong Yee, Russell, Sam Wates and Jamie Le Hardy, who capped the MVP award. Paul Lalor, Mitta Rousseau, Jorge Donovan and Mark Wates formed the Scotia team.
Winning captain Fong Yee said she was elated with the victory, but it was far from easy as it could've been anybody's game in the final chukka.
"I guess we were the underdogs, but we worked hard for it," said Fong Yee. "Jamie, on his first visit to Jamaica, played really well and the way he organised the team on the field, was deserving of the MVP award.
"The crowd support was wonderful and given the high-powered sponsorship from title-sponsors Scotia Private Client Group, along with Jamaica Pegasus, Appleton Rum, Wata, Bin 26 and American Airlines, this was an unforgettable experience."
Pumba, owned by Jamaica Polo Association President Dennis Lalor and groomed by Paul Dawkins, was adjudged the best playing pony.
The championship trophy was presented to Fong Yee by Bruce Bowen, chief executive officer of The Scotiabank Group.
In the third place play-off, The Jamaica Pegasus, with three goals from John G. Byles and two from the Argentinean pro Jose Laritigoyen, clipped the American Airlines team 61/2 to 6. The Argentinean pro Tomas Gandara scored four goals for the losers, while Mining and Energy Minister James Robertson and Adam Laing netted one each.