Pace setting, Ashbert Raiders and Sayyu Dantataâ€™s high flying Lagos MRS Polo teams were the toast at the just concluded Abrakaâ€™2010 International Polo Tournament that came to a memorable climax at the Easter weekend at the tranquil Abraka Turf and Country Club in Delta State.
Home fansâ€™ favourites, Ashbert Raiders who arrived on high having acquitted themselves as the team to beat at every edition, outpaced MRS in a five chukker explosive game, to cart home the glittering Ashton Wells Cup which is the latest addition to the growing number of top prizes on offer.
Piqued by the loss of the Ashton Well title, the oil merchants who have endeared themselves to the Abraka crowd over the years, ensured their high profile reputation and remained intact as they successfully defended the Patronsâ€™ Trophy they won two years ago.
Parading a young team featuring Usman Usman Dantata, Bashir Bashir Dantata, their patron, Sayyu Dantata and Bashir Musa/Mamuda Shehu at the back, MRS dug deep into their bag of tricks to produce a 6-5 winner in the last game of the event that decided the destination of the legendary Patrons Trophy.
Prince Albert Esiri led Ashbert Raiders boasting of names like Bello Buba, Bruno Ciponneli and Dawule Baba had earlier discarded MRS 11-5 in the opening game of the prestigious event to add the glittering Ashton Wells title to their over crowded prize shelf.
â€œAbraka has always been one of our best hunting grounds and this edition has been special in many ways,â€ MRS Patron, Sayyu Dantata declared shortly after receiving his Patronsâ€™ Trophy.
â€œHaving won the Patrons Trophy a record six times, I must say it has been great experiences all the way and we are looking forward to defending the title next year,â€ he added in a tease reaction to his teamâ€™s impressive performance.
Awards were also given out to individual players who distinguished themselves during the international fiesta. MRS boss, Sayyu Dantata won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in the Patrons Cup final game, while Usman Dantata who was just playing his second Abraka event, won the MVP for the Ashton Wells Cup series.
The international event which is revered for its competition and excitement, galloped off in grand style with the Delta State Commissioner for Higher Education, Dr. Hope Eghagha who represented Governor Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan on hand to perform the opening ceremony.
Proudly sponsored by Ashton Wells, the grand event lived up to its billing as the premier private polo fiesta in the country. After the colourful opening ceremony that preceded the pacy practice round, the real action got underway on the second day with Ashbert Raiders and MRS squaring up in the first ever derby polo tournament in the country that let the sparks flying in every direction of the exotic resort packed full with high personalities who came in their droves to be part of the Easter fiesta.
The long list of personalities who witnessed the prestigious polo fiesta include Professor Eric Arubayi, Professor Martins Ogbe, Thisday Newspaper Publisher, Nduka Obaigbena, the Obi of Abavo, Dr & Mrs. Salubi, Dr Amakre, Mrs, Julie Edewor-Thomas, Karren Paterson and Mr. Dibiezue, among others.
Most of the guests and players spoken to, described the Abrakaâ€™2010 experience as a great one whose memories would linger for months on end.
While most of the players have all indicated their intension to play at the Turf next year, the Delta State Government has reiterated its pledged to partner with the organizers in taking the tournament and tourism in the Niger Delta region to the next level.
The governor has earlier described the Abraka Turf &country club as a shinning example of an individual effort at projecting the tourism potentials of Delta State and Nigeria internationally.