His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh and Royal Salute’s Peter Moore, Global Prestige Brand Director, presented the mighty Coronation Cup to Canadian big hitter Fred Mannix Jnr after the GT Bank Commonwealthteam narrowly defeated England 12-11in a thrilling game at Guards Polo Club on Saturday 23 July. This match has been theshowpiece game for the sport’s governing body, the Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA), since the 1970s, but such was the standard of play in this year’s match that Coronation Cup was said by many to be the best ever.
Theteams were level at half time in this six-chukka match, but England, led by James Beim, went ahead (8-7) for the first time in the fourth, thanks to goals from Jack Richardson and Beim. However, this just seemed to spur the Commonwealth team on further and goals from every member of this team, to only one in reply from Richardson, suddenly put some air in the scores and gave the Commonwealth a two-goal advantage (11-9). This included a cheeky back shot to goal by Hissam Ali Hyder, the first player from Pakistan to compete in a Coronation Cup match. The Commonwealth’s success was also due to some brilliant defensive play from the young South African Chris Mackenzie, who was always there to stop an England attack. Not surprisingly, he was later named the Garrard Most Valuable Player.
So there was all to play for in the sixth and final chukka. Mannix successfully converted a penalty at the beginning of this chukka, but it wasEngland who dominated as the clock ticked down. Both Beim and James Harper, making his Coronation Cup debut, shot through a goal each to bring the home side back into contention. But time was against them and with the bell ringing out and the scoreboard reading 12-11, it was victory to the Commonwealth.
Stephen Hutchinson, Chairman of the HPA, said: “Congratulations to the GT Bank Commonwealth team for their victory here today. Fred Mannix Jnr and his fellow Commonwealth players provided us with an impressive display of teamwork and individual play and justly deserved to lift the very special Royal Salute Coronation Cup. Although it would have been nice to see an England victory in my first Royal Salute Coronation Cup as Chairman of the HPA, a good game is the aim of the day and the teams have certainly given us that. I would like to thank captains and the players, as well as both coaches and all those behind the scenes, for their contribution to this important day for English polo. It is clear that Royal Salute has firmly established a world-class platform on which polo can be promoted to an increasingly discerning audience.”
Complete story available on poloplus magazine.