The Julius Baer Gold Cup 2015, 18 goal handicap tournament with five chukkas in a match will start on Monday, February 23, 2015 and end with the final match on Friday March 13, 2015.
The event will take place at the Dubai Polo and Equestrian Club located at Arabian Ranches, Dubai.
The Dubai Polo Gold Cup Series (Dubai Open) is the highest handicap tournament in the Middle East, Africa and Asia and the fourth-largest tournament of its kind after Argentina, US and the UK.
First founded by Mohammed Al Habtoor in 2009, the tournament is the premier regional polo competition of the year, and attracts VIPs, society figures, and senior corporate executives from across the GCC.
It has grown in tandem with the city of Dubai and since 2012, it is the only tournament in the UAE to be recognized and certified by the World Polo Tour (WPT).
Played under the banner of the Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA), the Julius Baer Gold Cup is played in accordance with the HPA rules and the provision of umpires is managed under strict international supervision of the HPA.
The first to be played on Monday, February 23, 2015 between Ghantoot Polo and Bin Drai Polo in the first group, and Julius Baer Team against Edrees Polo in the second group.
The matches corresponding to the first phase will be played until March 6, 2015 and the four best teams of each group will continue on to play the Bentley Cup Semi-Final and the Julius Baer Gold Cup Semi-Final on Monday March 9, 2015.
The finals will be held on Friday, March 13, 2015.
The prize value of this year Julius Bar Gold Cup is half of million dirhams.
This year the teams have more to play for, as the winning team will not only be awarded the trophy; each team member will also be given a limited edition Breitling for Bentley watch.
Ten of the world’s best Polo teams and the most respected names in polo have confirmed their participation to compete in this year’s tournament:
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The prestigious final of the 2015 Cartier International Dubai Polo Challenge survived a sandstorm, with the host team Desert Palm beating the UAE Polo Team 10-4.
It was the 10th anniversary of the tournament and the event’s showpiece went ahead despite 70km per hour winds battering Dubai and causing serious visibility problems yesterday.
It was a fitting end for winners Desert Palm, as the event had been staged at the Desert Palm Polo Club, and featured Rashid Albwardy, son of Ali Albwardy, considered the godfather of polo in the UAE and owner of Desert Palm.
The team, led by Alan Meeker, recorded victory by a surprisingly large margin over the UAE Polo Team, who had done superbly to overcome the previously unbeaten Cartier Red 6-5 in a thrilling semi-final on Thursday.
Neil Hobday, Chief Executive Officer of event organisers Guards Polo Club, hailed the anniversary tournament as the best in its
“From day one it’s been brilliant,” he said. “We’ve seen some out-of-this-world polo. It was a really fantastic final and the standard of matches throughout the tournament has been really great; full of fast, physical and skilful play.
“It’s arguably been the best tournament we’ve seen in the 10-year history.”
The final went ahead – it was pushed back by 30 minutes to 16:30 to allow for the winds and sand to settle – although the subsidiary Desert Palm Trophy played for between the third and fourth best teams from the week-long tournament was cancelled.
A sand storm has engulfed the UAE over the past two days, but conditions were particularly poor in Dubai and further north yesterday, with winds blowing dust and sand that reduced visibility to as low as 200 metres near Ras Al Khaimah Airport and around 500 metres near Al Maktoum International Airport, Dubai.
The country’s National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) issued warnings to those venturing out as wind speeds hit highs of up to 70km per hour.
Fortunately, the tournament’s finale went ahead, with Desert Palm showing their class to maintain their 100 per cent winning record and claim the anniversary win.
Hobday said a tremendous amount of work had gone in to make sure the final day of the tournament went ahead.
“It was a challenge but a huge success,” said Hobday.
“First thing in the morning, when all the event teams got together, we realised we had a bit of a problem.
“We didn’t know how long it would last but we contacted the Dubai MET Office who were confident the wind would stop blowing sand around 15:00.
“And we also contacted the vet who said there was no possibility of the horses getting sand into their lungs.
“We were disappointed the first game had to be cancelled. It was an unusual set of circumstances but everyone worked very well to manage it.”
The tournament was held under the patronage and in the presence of HRH Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, wife of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum,
Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
In the Royal Box alongside HRH Princess Haya were Laurent
Gaborit, managing director of Cartier Middle East and India, Desert Palm owner and host Albwardy, Hobday, and American socialite Olivia Palermo.
HRH Princess Haya presented Amr Zedan of the Guards team with the La Martina Most Valuable Player of the Tournament Award.
The La Martina Best Playing Pony Rug was won by Ali Albwardy’s Castora, who was played by Desert Palm’s Diego Cavanagh.
The Cartier International Dubai Polo Challenge is already regarded as the most celebrated tournament of the year, and the competition, standard of athletes appearing and spirit shown at this year’s special 10th anniversary event was no exc-eption.
Sheikh Ahmed, his trainer Dhruba Selvaratnam and stable jockey Oisin Murphy were in great form on their ‘home course’ on Friday, combining to win half of the six Thoroughbred races – highlighted by the repeat win of Forjatt in the featured Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile.
In doing so he became only the second horse to win the race in consecutive years and the third dual winner of the contest.
It was hard work though with Murphy’s mount hitting the front less than 200m from home, taking over from Silver Galaxy, who fought back under Silvestre De Sousa and threatened to regain the initiative. An appreciative audience roared the combatants on and they flashed across the line together.
A nervous wait ensued before the result was announced, in Forjatt’s favour, by the narrowest of margins and to the delight of the crowd who gave the horse a welcome worthy of Royal Ascot.
Earlier, Dormello, the easy winner of an 1,800m conditions race, initiated the treble by comfortably surging clear in the final 200m to win going away.
Thrilled for the team at Jebel Ali Stables with Dormello, Forjatt and Gobboll winning today. pic.twitter.com/2Z89wuAE1P
— Oisin Murphy (@oisdacm) February 20, 2015
The team’s third winner was Gobooll who landed a 1,400m handicap.
The main support race, the 1,000m Jebel Ali Sprint Prep, provided Muarrab the perfect opportunity to register his sixth course win for owner Sheikh Hamdan and trainer Musabah Al Muhairi.
Mudallal Al Reef won the opening 1,800m conditions contest, the only Purebred Arabian contest on the card, ridden by De Sousa and a first winner, at the 154th attempt, for trainer Khalifa Al Neyadi.
The following 1,950m conditions race was won by Diwaan, who was winning his fourth consecutive outing for trainer Doug Watson and jockey Pat Dobbs.
And Brazen, running under Tadhg O’Shea, was a first Thoroughbred winner of the season for Salem Al Ketbi – the pair landing a 1,200m handicap.