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Thursday, June 20, 2024

The Habtoor team emerge beach polo champions

by Andre Gonzaga

© Al Habtoor Group | Members of the Habtoor Polo Team - Mohammed al Habtoor, Habtoor al Habtoor and Guillermo Cuitino -- at the victory podium at Al Habtoor Grand Hotel beach.

The Habtoor Polo team, riding on a brilliant performance by Guillermo Cuitino, defeated Mahra Polo 5-1 to win the fourth Mitsubishi Motors Beach Polo Championship on December 31

With their convincing win, Habtoor Polo have maintained an unbeaten run in the event, organised by Mohammed Al Habtoor, who himself featured in the victorious team. The two-day tournament attracted four teams, each consisting of three riders, who played with an inflated ball.

Despite being played on the unusual surface of sand, the beach version of the sport still had all the attributes associated with the regular game which is played on grass. Some of the best talent in the country showcased their skills at the event. A breathtaking skydiving display by experts further added to the carnival atmosphere. Watched by an enthusiastic crowd, the final produced a number of ride-offs and great defence in the early stages, but Habtoor Polo steadily picked up the pace with Cutinio, who scored four goals, striking almost at will.

Mohammed Al Habtoor set the tone of the final with a brilliant opening goal in the first chukker, but Mahra equalised through Mario Gomez just seconds before the end of the first chukker. Habtoor Polo added another three goals in the second chukker to make the score 4-1, before sealing the final with a 15-yard penalty in the final chukker.

Mahra Polo had a number of chances to narrow down the margin, but their riders were way off target even from close range. “It’s a great feeling to win the final once again. It wasn’t easy, but we ran more and our guys played a tougher defence,” said a jubilant Mohammed Al Habtoor. “I think Guilermo played very well. He’s one of the best players. We played like a team and that was the key to our success,” he said.

“We are the pioneers of beach polo, having first started the tournament in 2003. We had to discontinue it for a while because of all the construction work in and around the beach here. I am glad that the championship is back. Fun in the sun is the name of the game, but there is no dearth of intensity in competition.”

Earlier, Yas Polo defeated RnT Polo by 6-1 to finish third in the tournament. George Duncan, General Manager of Al Habtoor Motors, presented the prizes.

The Teams:

Habtoor Polo – Mohammed Al Habtoor (0 handicap), Habtoor Al Habtoor (0), Guillermo Cuitino (6).
Mahra Polo –  Tarik Al Habtoor (0), Khalid Ghobash (0), Mario Gomez  (4).
Yas Polo – Rashid Bin Drai (1), Saud Khoury (0), Maxi Malacalza (3).
RnT Polo – Raja Abuljebain (0), Tarek Fatheldin (0), Daniel Alberto (3).

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