It was a dream international day for England polo, with victories in both matches in the glorious surroundings of Guards Polo Club, Windsor.
The day opened with a 15-goal match between Young England and the Commonwealth for The Whitbread Trophy. Louis Hine (5) led Will Millard (2), Luke Wiles (4) and Will Harper (4) to a decisive victory over the opposing team of captain Hissam Ali Hyder (4) for Pakistan, Adebayo Karim (2) for Nigeria, Abby Pathak (4) for India, and Jake Daniels (5) for Australia.
By the second chukka, the Young England team had taken control of the play, and kept up a relentless pace that would prove too much for the Commonwealth side. Excellent coaching from Nacho Gonzalez saw the home team continue to draw away in the second half, and despite some fantastic rallying play from the Commonwealth in the final chukka, Hine and his team could not be caught, leaving the final score a resounding 11-4.
The wave of success continued into the afternoon, with the Guards crowds treated to a well-spirited clash between some of the world’s best players in the fight for the King’s Coronation Cup. The Commonwealth were keen to extend the 2-1 record against England in this match, while England captain Tommy Beresford left no doubt that his team were determined to even the score.
The Commonwealth team, down by 1 on the handicap, started with a goal on the board. Debutant Garvy Beh (5) for Malaysia, Chris MacKenzie (6) for South Africa, and JP Clarkin (6) for New Zealand were led by Canadian captain Fred Mannix (7). The home side fielded a 25-goal team of Max Charlton (6), Ollie Cudmore (6), and James Beim (6), captained by Tommy Beresford (7).
Beresford opened the card with a well-lofted penalty to equalise, before winning a big ride-off to swing the board into England’s favour. Another confident penalty followed, but Chris MacKenzie prevented a clean sweep by hammering home a goal for the Commonwealth in the final 30 seconds.
The second chukka opened with some missed early chances for the Commonwealth, while England’s Ollie Cudmore and Max Charlton used huge hits to up the England score, finding the ever-consistent James Beim ready and waiting on the receiving end to see the goals home. The Commonwealth team, coached by John Horswell, found their momentum in the third chukka, with a goal from captain Mannix keeping Commonwealth hopes high heading into half time.
The second half started with an action-packed chukka that saw five goals added to the board, but it was the fifth chukka that demonstrated exactly why England have enjoyed a fantastic international season, with brilliant teamwork between the home side players proving the key. Beresford converted a penalty once again before Cudmore, fighting a ride-off from Mannix, found Beim at the goal to draw five goals ahead. Mannix kept his team in the hunt with a high, smooth penalty hit to head into the final chukka 11-7.
The Beim-Cudmore alliance swept through the field once again the start the final chukka, with Beim scoring through an open goal thanks to Cudmore’s strong riding seeing off the competition. Mannix scored again to bring the score to 12-8, but the England team proved too strong for the Commonwealth horsepower, and despite fighting all the way to the end, the visiting team could not see off the home side, who had kept their promise of keeping the King’s Coronation Cup on English soil. The team were presented with the coveted trophy by The Right Honourable Patricia Scotland KC, Baroness Scotland of Asthal, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, in an evening ceremony supported by family, friends, and spectators to finish a spectacular day.
It was Chris Mackenzie who took home the Most Valuable Player, having played a brilliant attacking game. The Best Playing ROR also went home with Mackenzie, awarded to his own Biento (racing name Badalona Breeze), who was formerly trained by Mick Appleby.
Best Playing Pony was awarded to Tommy Beresford’s own Teddy, with his groom Raul Mora picking up the cash prize. Tommy’s mother Teresa Beresford was on hand to present the Donoso Trophy, traditionally awarded to the captain of the opposing team, to Fred Mannix in memory of her late brother Gabriel Donoso, whose name appears twice on the Coronation Cup after wins in 1998 and 2004.
The sun was shining and the party continued with a performance from the Rick Parfitt Jnr Band, as the mood was high after two brilliant matches in the glorious Guards Polo Club grounds. An historic Coronation Cup year that left England’s hopes high for the future.