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President’s Bodyguard (PBG) win Zameen National Open Championship

President’s Bodyguard (PBG) Risala outclassed ASC Polo Team by 12-6 to clinch the country’s most prestigious polo title, the Zameen National Open Polo Championship for Quaid-e-Azam Gold Cup, at a jam-packed Lahore Polo Club ground on Sunday.

PBG Risala has won the esteemed Quaid-e-Azam National Open Polo Championship after a period of 43 years. High-flying Nicholas A Recaite emerged as the star of the final by smashing a superb seven goals, while the phenomenal Raja Mikael Sami hammered a hat-trick and Hamza Mawaz Khan banged in a brace. Eulogio Celestino played well for ASC and contributed with a hat-trick, while Dr. Shahzad scored two goals and Mumtaz Abbas Niazi struck once.

ASC dominated the final right from the word go, as they thrashed in two back-to-back goals – one each by Mumtaz Abbas Niazi and Eulogio Celestino – to gain a 2-0 lead. Hamza Mawaz then fired in a field goal for PBG to reduce the margin to 2-1, while Eulogio put the ball into the poles to strengthen the ASC’s lead to 3-1 just before the end of the first chukker. In the second chukker, PBG fought back well and converted two fabulous field goals to equalise the score at 3-all. After that, ASC succeeded in converting one more goal through Eulogio to have a slight 4-3 edge.

In the third chukker, PBG made another comeback by malleting two tremendous field goals through Nicholas to get a 5-4 lead. PBG fully dominated the fourth chukker, as they fired in five fantastic goals to build a healthy 10-4 lead. This time, Nicholas contributed with a hat-trick and Mikael with a brace. In the fifth and last chukker, both teams slammed in two goals each. From PBG, Nicholas pumped in a brace while Shahzad banged in a brace for ASC, as PBG won the final 12-6. Nicholas Scortichini and Martin Fewster officiated the final as field umpires, while George Meyrick was the match referee.

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Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) leader Jahangir Khan Tareen graced the final as chief guest and, along with CEOs Zeeshan Ali Khan and Imran Ali Khan, distributed prizes and shields among the winners and top performers. Other notables present on the occasion were Country Head Ahmad Bhatti, Lahore Polo Club President Malik Atif Yaar Tiwana, executive committee members, players, their families and a great number of polo lovers.

At the prize distribution ceremony, Raja Mikael Sami was judged as the most valuable Pakistani player while the best foreign player was Nicholas A Recaite. The player of the final award went to Mumtaz Abbas Niazi; the emerging talent award went to Raha Jalal Arslan; highest goal scorer to Nicholas; best-playing polo pony (local) to Magic, owned by Lt Col Rabnawaz Tiwana; best-playing polo pony (foreign) owned by Mir Shoaib Ahmed; the best player award of -2 to 0 category to Agha Adam Ali Khan; the best player 0 to 2 category to Daniyal Sheikh, and the best player award 2 to 4 category to Raja Samiullah.

Prior to the main final, the packed-to-capacity Lahore Polo Club was treated to a heavy bike show followed by a tent-pegging demonstration by two renowned tent-pegging clubs of the country, who amused the spectators with their superb skills and techniques.

Earlier in the subsidiary final, Pebble Breaker overwhelmed Guard Group/Artema Medical by 11-5. From Pebble Breaker, Juan Cruz Losada and Ahmed Ali Tiwana cracked a quartet each, while Raja Jalal Arslan struck two and Bilal Haye one. From Guard Group, Raja Temur Nadeem hammered a hat-trick and Taimur Ali Malik scored two goals.

Saman Siddiqui

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