French Open Polo Championships Surprise Win
Story and Photography by Pascal Renauldon
The figurehead of this 12th French Open Kamélis, Pancho Bensadon, had made it one of his season’s main objectives: a victory, or else nothing. Participating in a final cannot be considered “nothing”, but the strong-willed Argentinean could not hold out against a particular British mallet.
Things could not be better for the British at these times: five equestrian medals at the Olympics in London, a victory in the Silver Cup of Deauville by the Tomlinson brothers… Bensadon should have known better than to underestimate the only British player in the final of this 12th French Open, James Bein. The handicap 7 was not the only great performer and thus reason for this unattended victory of Body Minute, though. After a streak of bad luck in Deauville, the players were able to harmonize, reorganize and ameliorate their interactions in the course of the Open to eventually become a much stronger team than anyone would have expected. After an initial failure against the Luxembourgian team Black Storm, the “pink shirts” had not lost a single match, including the breath-taking semi-final against Tom Tailor’s German team, which they defeated last-minute with Tomas Reinoso’s “golden Goal” during extra chukker.
However, all the success had not been sufficient to make Body Minute’s captain Jean-Christophe David truly optimistic about the final: “We are the good deal of the final… the opponent can be sure to take the trophy home.” If one thinks there is nothing to lose, and if that someone happens to have fighting spirits on his team, everything is possible. With James Bein’s ability to organize the team and to win over Pancho Bensadon in duels, with Thomas Reinoso’s terrific breakthroughs and with the assertiveness of outstanding Édouard Pan (the French n°3), who was bold enough to dare a 60 yard under-neck shot that transformed into a goal, Body Minute was able to triumph in the end - and deservedly so.
Pancho Bensadon tried to change the course of the match by any means possible, but without a doubt a bit single-handedly as he seemed to not rely very much on the abilities of his young teammates. Thus there was not a moment of the match where it seemed possible that In the Wings were really able to turn the tables on the team dressed in pink. “We were the underdogs”, states Édouard Pan “but we also knew that anything could happen in a final. This was nothing to cogitate about, we had no particular tactics like focusing our defence on Bensadon or anything similar to that, we just went on the field and played. I have never played the French Open before and it is amazing to win it on the first try, being a handicap 4 for my first season. Jean-Christophe, Tomas and I have the habit of playing together, and James progressively blended well with the team. It was easy, as he is a great guy, very nice and fun, and the good atmosphere within the team contributed a great deal to this victory.”
Progression Body Minute: 2/3 – 6/3 – 8/14 – 10/9 – 14/9