The first ever all English team consisting of Tamara Vestey, Emma Tomlinson, Lottie Lamacraft and Annabel McNaught-Davis lined up in the second ever running of the Ladies Argentine Open in Palermo, Argentina.
The team’s combined handicap was twenty-four goals and they were looking forward to being strong competitors for the title. All four ladies had been preparing for the past few months and continued to work hard in the build up to produce the best performance possible during the tournament which was run alongside the men’s Argentine Open. The final was due to be played just hours before the men’s Open.
We were delighted to be able to support Alegria’s all British ladies line- up, affirming our support for ladies polo, following on from headline sponsorship of the British Ladies Polo Championships held at Cowdray Park Polo Club the summer of 2018.
We believe that in recent years ladies sport has deservingly risen in popularity and participation. With ladies polo in particular is growing rapidly becoming more competitive and dynamic. It’s soon predicted to be on a professional par with men’s polo. Last year saw a 37% increase in sponsorship deals across all ladies’ sports. We are proud to be a big supporter of ladies’ polo both in the UK and now Argentina, and look forward to growing this in 2019.
The team were kindly supported by the Tomlinson family with horses, fields and practices in the lead up to the tournament. England regular Luke Tomlinson also coached the team.
Tamara Vestey: Handicap: 2 goals (7 goals ladies)
Tamara is based at Cirencester Park Polo Club in England where she plays professionally during the English seasons. Her greatest achievement was playing for England and winning bronze in the 8 Goal European Championships in 2010 with her sister Nina Clarkin, Emma Tomlinson and Clare Milford Haven. In 2007 she won the Gerald Balding (8 goals) with Emma, Nina and Lucy Taylor, they became the first ladies team to play in and win a mixed National Tournament in the UK. Then in 2008 she won the Holden White (8 goals) with the same Ladies Team, sponsored by Diamonds International. Prior to that, in 1999 she won the Ellerston 16 goal tournament at Kerry Packer’s farm in Australia and the Warwickshire Cup (22 goals) at Cirencester in 2002. Tamara is a main figure within Ladies Polo and continues to compete at the highest level around the world.
Emma Tomlinson Handicap: 1 goals (6 goal ladies)
However playing off 5 in Argentina. Emma is based at Beaufort Polo Club alongside her family who form an important and historical part of English Polo. Her mother Claire Tomlinson was the highest rated Lady player in history attaining a handicap of five goals. Emma herself has not only reached a three goal handicap but is also considered one of the top embryo transfer and lameness vets within Polo running her own Centre alongside playing professionally in England. Emma has represented England on numerous occasions and also plays frequently in Argentina at her family club La Quinta. Alongside Tamara she reached many milestones for Ladies within the sport winning various National 8 goal tournaments with an all Ladies Team – a unique feat to date.
Lottie Lamacraft Handicap: 1 goals (6 goal ladies)
Lottie is based in Midhurst during the English summer and travels to New Zealand for the winter. Between the two places she runs various young horse programmes and plays professionally around the world. She has represented England Ladies seven times and also played polo in severn different countries to date. Notable tournament wins include the Holden White; The Duke of Wellington; The Cowdray Ladies British Open; The Cirencester Ladies International and the French Ladies Open.
Annabel McNaught-Davis Handicap: 1 goals (6 goals ladies)
Annabel is based in Berkshire during the English season but during the last few years has concentrated on playing in Argentina where she is based at her farm near Pilar. She has played professionally in numerous countries and also produces and trains ponies for high goal players.Annabel has represented England various times and has won numerous tournaments in Europe and Argentina during the last few years competing at the highest level of the sport. Most notable wins include the Women’s Nationals in England, the Italian Ladies Open and the Maharani Cup in Argentina.
The team placed third placed overall beating Santa Maria de Lobos in the subsidiary final. Annabel McNaught-Davis commented, “Third in the Argentine Ladies Open was a dream come true. Being the highest level Ladies in the world and playing as an all English team was an incredible and historical moment and one we will all remember for a long time.”
Below you will find a short summary of the matches from Annabel McNaught-Davis.
Match One – versus La Dolfina Brava at the AAP Pilar
Playing against the reigning champions as a first match was always going to be a challenge. One that we rose to and that many people felt was far closer than the score line reflected. More than anything it was a great way to push ourselves and become competitive for the matches to come. Positive feedback all around gave us a lot to build on and we went on to adjust our line up before our next match.
Match two – versus Santa Maria de Lobos at the AAP Pilar
A great start meant we took a 9-3 lead during the first four chukkas against the American team. A tough opponent with the same handicap meant it was always going to be an even match, but we had improved massively after our first match and had some nice moments of team play. A comeback in the last two chukkas from the very well mounted Lobos team tested us but we managed to pull together and get the result we wanted.
Match 3 – versus UAE El Overo at the AAP Pilar
An unfortunate weather forecast meant that the last two matches for us had to be rescheduled and put within a day of each other – which meant that our plan to push ourselves to the maximum against the UAE had to be adjusted in order to prepare for the sub final the following day. Despite concentrating more on the horses we still gave UAE a tough match and apparently their toughest half time talk to date. Although we knew we could have had a much better score our priority had to be the sub final and thankfully our plan was to pay off.
Match 4 – Sub Final versus Santa Maria de Lobos at Palermo
The night before had seen thunder and lightening intervene in the semi final of Ellerstina vs Las Monjitas on ground 1 but thankfully the sun was shining and the pitch was perfect for our match on ground 2. As a team we were determined to give it our all, and from chukka one the match was fast and intense with Lobos also putting the pressure on. A fast and open match suited our team and we worked well together to come out with a 10-4 win and the accomplishment of not only being the first ever all English Ladies Team to play but also win an Open final. All 8 girls on the pitch were foreign which was also a first and a great sign for the diversity and future of ladies’ polo.
The team now looks forward to next year where they aim to place even higher.