By Diane Butler, Director of Communications Guards Polo Club. All photos by www.imagesofpolo.com.
James Beim led Flannels England to an emphatic 7-1 win over GT Bank Commonwealth in the 2017 edition of the Hurlingham Polo Association’s Royal Salute Coronation Cup. After having been narrowly beaten by an almost unchanged Commonwealth team last year, the England squad was determined to win back this mighty trophy.
Despite heavy rain throughout all six chukkas, the home side maintained their focus to win the game at Guards Polo Club. The Commonwealth regularly applied pressure in this match, but struggled to convert chances to goals. Some unexpectedly wide penalties off the sticks of Fred Mannix and John Paul Clarkin allowed England to establish a three-goal lead early on which they gradually increased during the rest of the game as their confidence grew.
Peter Prentice, Chairman of the Keepers of the Quaich and Royal Salute Ambassador, South Korean actress Han Go-Eun and HPA Chairman Stephen Hutchinson presented Beim with the magnificent trophy, which was first played for in 1911. His team-mate, James Harper, who has recently been impressing in the high-goal with the El Remanso team alongside Beim, played brilliantly throughout the afternoon. Therefore, it was no surprise that he was later rewarded with the Financial Times How To Spend It Most Valuable Player prize. He collected his award from HTSI Editor Gillian de Bono.
Meanwhile John Paul Clarkin received the Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) Best Playing Pony Prize for his own Magpie from Piers Plunkett. This is a nine-year-old New Zealand-bred mare. Segun Agbaje of the GT Bank awarded the Commonwealth captain Fred Mannix the Donoso Trophy, which is traditionally presented to the visiting team on this day of international sport.
The other prize at this year’s Royal Salute Coronation Cup presentation was not for a player in action today, but for someone who has stood out in the high-goal over the past few weeks. Eighteen-year-old James Fewster, who has been playing with remarkable confidence and skill for the King Power Foxes team, was named the Hurlingham Polo Association’s Best Young Player of the Year. His reward was the coveted Ferguson Trophy from Bruce Merivale Austin.
In a change of format for this year, the Royal Salute Coronation Cup match was immediately followed with the Thai Polo Club Ladies’ International for the Diamond Jubilee Trophy. This is the first time in the history of this day that ladies’ polo has featured on the schedule. The ladies did not disappoint, producing a fast-paced game in slightly drier conditions than their male counterparts.
The Swarovski England Ladies, sporting their unique Swarovski-styled helmets, created by Emily London, won this match 8-3, defeating a competitive Llangollen USA Ladies team, who were beginning to adapt to the English conditions in the second half. The addition of this match to the Coronation Cup programme highlights the growing importance of ladies’ polo in the global polo calendar and generated plenty of interest. England’s Hazel Jackson was named Swarovski Most Valuable Player, and her team-mate, 20-year-old Izzy McGregor, the youngest player on the field on this day, was also impressive, highlighting the depth of talent in the ladies’ game.
Swarovski is sponsoring the England Ladies team for the 2017 season to celebrate the inspirational players, whose strength, grace and precision reflect the values of the brand. As the popularity of women’s polo increases, Swarovski is proud to shine a light on women’s empowerment as part of a movement that promotes women’s sport.
Nina Clarkin, playing off a ladies’ handicap of 10 goals, received the Diamond Jubilee Trophy from Thai Polo Club’s Harald Link, and prizes were presented by Swarovski’s Andrew Drummond Moray and the US team patron Donald Brennan, who owns the Llangollen Farm in Virginia and whose daughter, Maureen was playing for the USA.
Nina’s appearance in this match also meant that it was the first time that a husband and wife had both played on this day as John Paul Clarkin had earlier lined up for the Commonwealth side. And, like her husband, Nina also won the Best Playing Pony prize, this time for Jess, a grey mare owned by the McGregors, which she had played in the first and fourth chukkas.
With two great wins for England, this was a Royal Salute Coronation Cup day to remember. Royal Salute scotch whisky, created for the Coronation of the Queen, delighted guests with floral tributes to Her Majesty’s Blue Sapphire Jubilee and bespoke cocktail created in her honour. The Queen’s Ground stood up well to 10 fast-paced chukkas, many of them played in torrential rain, and the remarkable sportsmanship on the field of play in both matches overcame everything the weather threw at the event.
Flannels England: James Beim (6); Max Charlton (7); James Harper (6); Luke Tomlinson (6). GT Bank Commonwealth: Hissam Ali Hyder (6); Dirk Gould (5); John Paul Clarkin (7); Fred Mannix Jnr (8).
Swarovski England Ladies: Izzy McGregor (4); Sarah Hughes (4); Hazel Jackson (8); Nina Clarkin (10). Llangollen USA Ladies: Julia Smith (5); Maureen Brennan (6); KC Krueger (7); Kristy Outhier (8).