The Art Hotel Team, STL-Shoreline  Go for Broke in the Open Cup

Duro Ikhazuagbe

As debutant The Art Hotel Polo team prepare for their second crucial game of the Open Cup against STL-Shoreline on Thursday in the ongoing 2023  NPA Lagos International Polo Tournament, winning is uppermost in the minds of the four players in the squad.

The Art Hotel polo team is made up of Neku Edun, the first professional female player in the country; Sadiq Dantata +1; Mexican import, JJ De Alba +4; and Genaro Ringa, a +7 handicap Argentine player.

This ambitious team, playing together for the first time last Saturday, lost 13-6 to Trojan-Ark in a game that was full of great suspense and thrills.

But speaking yesterday at the Hotel ahead of their second game in the league format of the Open Cup, Alba who confessed to have fallen in love with Nigerian barbecue meat Suya and jollof rice, promised to ensure The Art Hotel Polo team take something away from the game.

“Yeah, we lost our first game to Trojan on Saturday. It was the first time that we played. But now that we have had more practice sessions, we hope to win,” observed the Mexican who is playing in Nigeria for the first time. He is particularly thrilled by the quality of players at the Lagos International Polo Tournament.

Neku Edun similarly echoed the enthusiasm expressed by Alba. “On Thursday we will play better. We really want to win,” stressed Neku, the most visible female polo player in the African continent.

Dantata on the other hand is in a familiar terrain in polo. The game runs in the family with several of his siblings making great impact in polo. “Polo runs in the family because I can’t remember the first time I rode on a horse. It was a very long time ago and I have been playing polo.”

While the Majekodunmi Cup is the toast of the trophies on display at this three-week long tournament, the six teams in the Open Cup namely; Leighton Kings, Trojan-Ark, STL-Shoreline, The Art Hotel, Wiltten Aviation (Port Harcourt) and Dangote-Sublime (Kaduna) are certainly looking forward to prove points.

According to the conditions governing the Open Cup, each team will play two games in the  tournament. They will then be placed in an order of merit according to HPA rules. The runner up of the two leagues will play the Oba of Lagos Cup this Saturday. The winner of the two leagues are to play the final on Sunday, February 5 at 4pm.

The Lagos International Polo Tournament is the oldest polo tournament in Africa, dating back to the early 1900s. For the second time in the rich history of the international polo festival, the glamorous event would be decided over three weeks of bumper-to-bumper polo actions.

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