The Pony Club Polocrosse Championships took place as part of the JCB Pony Club Championships at Offchurch Bury on the 13th and 14th of August. It was a weekend of high temperatures but that did not stop there being some brilliant play on the pitches as Pony Club members came from across the United Kingdom to compete. Play was started early at 8AM and over by 2pm each day to avoid the highest temperatures in the afternoon and in a number of grades the teams only played two, rather than the traditional three, games over the weekend to allow the timetable to be shorter. The pitches played very well, despite the lack of rain in recent weeks, and we are very grateful to the team from Lands Eventing for the time they had spent preparing them in recent weeks.

Sammy Westerling and Rev grabs the ball for Essex and Northumberland in the Novice Minis (Photo credit Izzy Baker Cresswell)

The pitches were situated in the parkland of Offchurch Bury, very close to the central hub of trade stands and marquees, putting polocrosse in the public eye of the other sports that were taking place over the weekend and of spectators visiting the event. With old oak trees throughout the parkland to both frame the pitches and provide some welcome shade, it was a beautiful venue for the competition.

For the first time ever there was also a lead rein competition at Championships, which saw seven young competitors, their ponies and their handlers compete in two games on Sunday. To limit the amount of running that was needed the games took place in the 30 yard area and both teams scored in the same goal. Players rotated round between two teams and there were lots of great goals scored. All seven players were crowned joint champions at the end of it and took their spot on the top of the podium.

The first year of Lead Rein polocrosse was a great success (Photo credit Izzy Baker Cresswell)

In the Novice Minis there were many players making their Championships debut, including some who only started playing this year. The winners were a mixed team made up on players from two of the Essex branches and North Northumberland. Sammy Westerling, Lola Flower and Fraser Lowden King combined brilliantly over the weekend to win their pool and then narrowly defeat the Area 6 Pumas team, made up of Olivia Sharp, Zara Battle and Clarry Gale of the Burghley and Belvoir branches, in the final.

Essex and Northumberland top the podium after their Novice Minis win (Photo credit Area 8 Polocrosse)

Area 6 did win the Brookes Open Minis though, as Perdy Gale and Ava Lambert of the Burghley branch combined with Morvah Luke of the Belvoir to beat the United Pack section of Maggie Clark, Grace Hockley and Charlotte Gee in a hard fought final which saw some great goals being scored by both teams. At prize giving we held a round of applause in honour of our former chairman Dave Brookes, who sadly passed away a few weeks ago. He donated the trophy for this grade and during his time as Chairman of Pony Club Polocrosse worked very hard to grow and improve the sport around the United Kingdom.

Perdy Gale and Banana goes on the attack for Area 6 in the Brookes Open Minis (Photo credit Jo Gale)

The Novice Juniors saw lots of new faces in the various teams but it was the Area 2 Black team of Ethan Campbell, Bibian Mason and William Thompson who came out as champions. The three players from the Morpeth, North Northumberland and Percy Hunt branches played a great final against the mixed North Burghley and Morpeth team of Anya Tate, Ava Lambert and Max Lewis. The Area 2 team got ahead with a strong second chukka and managed to hold onto that lead till the end.

North Down and North Burghley and Morpeth battled it out in the group stages of the Novice Juniors (Photo Credit Izzy Baker Cresswell)

The Stoneleigh Open Juniors saw some of our more experienced young players in action, including a number who have either only stepped up from the Minis grades this year or are still eligible for Minis. It was the Flint and Denbigh Branch team of Daisy stone, Leia Lloyd Williams and Isabella Stone who won the grade. They won their pool and they played a great final against the mixed Kent and Llangeinor team, made up of Rosie Webb (Romney Marsh), Alfie Vollans (Llangeinor) and Alice Power (Ashford Valley). The quality of the play from both teams was very high and bodes well for the future of polocrosse in the United Kingdom.

Alfie Vollans of Kent and Llangeinor tries to get the ball off Taryn Tinker of the Essex and Suffolk in their group match for the Stoneleigh Open Juniors (Photo credit Izzy Baker Cresswell)

In the Intermediate Seniors two mixed teams battled it out in the final and it was the North Suffolk and Iveagh team, made up of Ashleigh Saunderson (North Down), Ella Heron (Iveagh) and Stella Stearn (Suffolk Hunt), who narrowly won the day, just overcoming the Northumberland and Romney team of Ajay Howitt, Amalie Mason and Katy Dixon.

Ashleigh Saunderson and Katy Dixon compete in the 30 yard area in the Intermediate Seniors final (Photo credit Izzy Baker Cresswell)

The Charles Mason Open Seniors was retained by the North Warwickshire branch as Harry Horton-Barr, Keeley Rock and Tegan Bristow overcame the United Pack team of Phillip Watney, Alice Leeke and Jess Clark in the final. The North Warwickshire also retained the Malden Trophy for the highest placed branch, centre or area in both the Open Seniors and Open Juniors.

The North Warwickshire and United Pack teams took part in a hard fought Charles Mason Open Seniors Final on Sunday (Photo credit Izzy Baker Cresswell)

Overall it was a brilliant weekend with some very exciting polocrosse being played and lots of fun being had by all the teams involved, both on and off the pitch. We are incredibly grateful to our wonderful team of volunteer field marshalls and umpires who ran the weekend and made sure everything stayed on track. We are also very grateful to those families who leant us horses to umpire on, as without umpires and umpire horses we could not run the event.

Thank you also Lands Eventing for their hard work in preparing the site and making sure we had water bowsers full pitch side throughout. Thank you to office team (particularly Zoe) for all their help in taking entries, organising all the prizes and everything else they do.

Thank you to all our brilliant players and parents who coped not only with the heat but with a slightly flexible order of play at points as we made some last minute changes. And particularly the four players, Jayda, Keeley, Millie and Alfie who doubled up in different teams to fill gaps that appeared late on! And of course Gill James for always being willing to find another horse for someone to play on or umpire on when needed.

We hope you all enjoyed it as much as we did and we look forwards to doing it all again next year!

Results of the JCB Pony Club Polocrosse Championships

Lead Rein

Alice Theckston (Essex Hunt North), Chloe Theckston (Essex Hunt North), Martha Gardener (North Warwickshire), Matilda Bull (North Warwickshire), Logan Bull (North Warwickshire), Freddie Oliver-Byrne (North Warwickshire), Florence Chance (North Warwickshire)

Novice Minis

1st) Essex and Northumberland – Sammy Westerling (Essex and Suffolk), Fraser Lowden King (North Northumberland), Lola Flower (Essex Hunt North)

2nd) Area 6 Pumas – Olivia Sharp (Belvoir Hunt), Zara Battle (Burghley Hunt), Clarissa Gale (Burghley Hunt)

3rd) Warwickshire Down and Belvoir – Isla Oliver-Byrne (North Warwickshire), Annabel Gill (East Down), Amelia Bennet (Belvoir Hunt)

4th) North Warwickshire – Josh Holliwell, Alice Storey, May Chance

5th) Warwickshire Hunt – Millie Taylor, Oscar Castaldini, Charlie Castaldini

Brookes Open Minis

1st) Area 6 Warriors – Perdy Gale (Burghley Hunt), Ava Lambert (Burghley Hunt), Morvah Luke (Belvoir Hunt)

2nd) United Pack – Maggie Clark, Grace Hockley, Charlotte Gee

Novice Juniors

1st) Area 2 Black – Ethan Campbell (Morpeth), Bibian Mason (North Northumberland), Will Thompson (Percy Hunt)

2nd) North Burghley and Morpeth – Anya Tate (Morpeth), Zara Stafford (Burghley), Max Lewis (North Down)

3rd) North Warwickshire – Jayda Williams, Archie Peckham, Monty Peckham

4th) Area 2 Pink – Jasmine Ford (North Northumberland), Nina Lowden King (North Northumberland), Tegan Lorey (North Northumberland)

5th) Area 8 – Maggie Flower (Essex Hunt North), Hugh Barclay Smith (East Essex), Holy Theckston (Essex Hunt North)

6th) North Down – Bailey McGuile, Eloise Keers, Abbey Wallace

Stoneleigh Open Juniors

1st) Flint and Denbigh – Daisy Stone, Leia Lloyd Williams, Isabella Stone

2nd) Kent and Llangeinor – Rosie Webb (Romney Marsh), Alfie Vollans (Llangeinor), Alice Power (Ashford Valley)

3rd) North Warwickshire – Jayda Williams, Sammy Borland, Keeley Rock

4th) Essex and Suffolk – Olivia Kirkham, Eloise Kirkham, Taryn Tinker

5th) Essex and Northumberland – Ollie Rowbotham (Essex Hunt North), Kiki Flower (Essex Hunt North), Milie Dacosta Evans (Northumberland) / Alfie Vollans (Llangeinor)

6th) Area 2 – Millie Dacosta Evans (North Northumberland), Talula Mason (North Northumberland), Tilly Threlfall (Percy Hunt)

Intermediate Seniors

1st) North Suffolk and Iveagh – Ashleigh Saunderson (North Down), Ella Heron (Iveagh), Stella Stearn (Suffolk Hunt)

2nd) Northumberland and Romney – Ajay Howitt (Romney Marsh), Amalie Mason (North Northumberland), Katy Dixon (North Northumberland)

Charles Mason Open Seniors

1st) North Warwickshire – Harry Horton-Barr, Keeley Rock, Tegan Bristow

2nd) United Pack – Phillip Watney, Alice Leeke, Jess Clark

3rd) Area 8 – Seona McCredie (Essex and Suffolk), Hannah Davitt (Deanswood EC), Jack Page (Essex Farmers)

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