Black Bears Roar to Success in La Martina Final
On Sunday 15 May, Guy Schwarzenbach led from the front, playing fantastically well off his 1 goal handicap to ensure that it was his Black Bears team to win the first 15-goal final at Guards Polo Club in 2016. In a tight and thrilling game on The Queen’s Ground, the Bears defeated Chris Mathias’s Clarita 7-6 in four chukkas to claim the La Martina Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Centenary Trophy. Teo van den Broeke, the Style Editor of Esquire magazine, presented Guy with the trophy on behalf of the La Martina team.
There was little to separate these two teams throughout the match and the La Martina guests in the splendour of the Royal Box and Club spectators all appreciated such a great game so early in the season. This match was also a wonderful advert for English polo – not only was Guards Polo Club looking spectacular in the May sunshine – but seven-goaler Max Charlton, playing in his first season for the Bears, and six-goaler George Meyrick, at back for Clarita, produced some great polo in a bid to give their team the advantage. Although such passion did lead to Charlton being awarded a yellow card in the third – a warning from the umpires for hitting the ball after a whistle.
The young Argentine, Juan Cruz Merlos, the son of former Black Bears’ high-goal player Pite Merlos, showed a maturity way beyond his 18 years and it was no surprise that he was named La Martina Most Valuable Player. Clarita’s Chris Mackenzie, who was always in the right place at the right time to pick up the long shots from George Meyrick, also received the Polo Times Best Playing Pony Prize for Nebraska. A Pony Power report will follow on this amazing grey mare in the June issue of Polo Times.
The Subsidiary Final was an equally close affair. Alan Fall’s Mad Dogs defeated Romilla Arber’s Four Quarters Black 8-7 in a match held earlier in the day.
La Martina has sponsored this 15 goal tournament, which this year attracted 11 teams, since 2009. That was the year that this leading polo kit and clothing brand first opened their shop at Guards Polo Club. Today not only does La Martina still run the Guards Polo Club Store, but has now opened its flagship London store in St James’s.
La Martina Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Centenary Trophy Final teams:
Black Bears (15): Guy Schwarzenbach (1); James Lester (3); Max Charlton (7) & Juan Cruz Merlos (4) Clarita (15): Chris Mathias (0); Freddie Horne (3); Chris Mackenzie (6) & George Meyrick (6)
Mad Dogs (15): Alan Fall (0); George Pearson (2); William Emerson (5) & Alejandro Novillo Astrada (8)
Four Quarters Black (15): Romilla Arber (0); Tom Brodie (3); Richard Le Poer (6) & Chris Hyde (6)
Photograph: The Polo Times Best Playing Pony, Nebraska ridden by Chris Mackenzie for Clarita. By Becky Simpson