|Mon 30th Jul 2018|
Flannels England Rule The International Day
Two wins for the home team at RCBPC
On Saturday 28 July, the polo world turned out at The Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club for the 2018 International Day. The event was a combination of pomp, polo and Britishness as spectators were treated to a three polo matches, a dressage masterclass courtesy of three-time Olympic gold medallist Charlotte Dujardin and a plethora of pitchside entertainment.
As the thousands of spectators found their perfect spot for the day’s proceedings, a selection of Pony Club teams from across the country paraded around the ground with the Berkshire hounds to mark the beginning of this special day. A junior match took place in centrefield to showcase the next generation of polo players, but it was at three o’clock that attentions really turned to the ground, as the national teams from Flannels England and the USA paraded out accompanied by The Scots Guards band. In true British fashion, the weather had taken a slight turn for the worse as the play began, with huge gusts of wind blustering across the ground, but on the dot of three o’clock, the first ball of The Westchester Cup was thrown-in.
With a handicap difference between the teams, Flannels England began with a one goal advantage, but it didn’t take long for the USA to catch-up. Nic Roldan flew to goal from the first throw-in to even the scoreboard, but despite being slightly shocked, Flannels England came back hard. The play was ferocious and relentless, with the wind direction and speed causing a huge advantage in one direction. Ollie Cudmore put Flannels ahead for the first time with a converted penalty 3 and the boys in white held that lead for the rest of the match. Two more goals off Cudmore’s stick and one in response from Julio Arellano saw Flannels England leading the match 4-2 at the end of the first chukka. The English onslaught didn’t stop there, as James Beim and James Harper continued the Flannels England dominance in the second chukka, despite constant efforts from the USA’s Jeff Hall and Roldan to counteract their plays. As the end of the third chukka loomed and another goal from Harper sailed through the posts, Flannels England led 7-2 as the crowd came onto the field to tread-in at half-time.
The second half began with a quick penalty conversion from the USA which put them back in the game, 7-3, but the cohesion of the Flannels England players, three of whom have been playing the 2018 high goal season together as The King Power Gold Cup winning side El Remanso, was too strong an opponent. Roldan scored his second goal of the match to make it 8-4 and in the following play he seemed to be everywhere, doing everything. Unlike the English team, the Americans hadn’t had much time to practice before the match and as the second half continued, the cracks began to show. The Flannels England boys continued their control of the play and with the scores reading 11-4 to England at the beginning of the sixth chukka, it was going to take a miracle for the American’s to turn the game around. The USA found two goals in that last chukka, but with another goal from England, their fate was completely sealed. Flannels England walked away with The Westchester Cup 12-6, thus bringing the overall Westchester rankings to 10 Cups to America and eight to England. England Captain James Beim was presented with the Most Valuable Player award, whilst his pony Salsita was awarded the Best Playing Pony rug.
Following The Westchester Cup, the Flannels England Ladies team took to the pristine RCBPC ground for The Thai Polo Club Ladies International for The Diamond Jubilee Trophy against a Rest of the World team. Going into the match, Flannels England Ladies had the upper hand, with ladies world-number-one Nina Clarkin bringing up the rear. However, the Rest of the World Ladies refused to go down without a fight. 9 goaler Lía Salvo opened up the scoring with a field goal for the Rest of the World Ladies, but Flannels England took their time and came back with a vengeance. Clarkin secured England’s first goal, and in combination with the Most Valuable Player Hazel Jackson-Gaona, showing her immense skill, helped their team to secure a further three goals before the half-time bell, to end the half 4-1. If it was possible, Flannels England came back even stronger in the second half, with an initial goal from Rosanna Turk and another from Jackson-Gaona, 6-1. Sarah Wiseman broke away from the intense play in midfield to put another goal on the board for the Rest of the World Ladies, trying to bring her team back into the game. The play became even more ferocious in the final chukka, but despite countless attempts to convert their goal attempts into goal victories, the Rest of the World Ladies just couldn’t catch the Flannels England side. The final score rested at 8-2 to the home side, to a cheer from the assembled crowd. Jess, owned by Doug and Sue McGregor and played by Clarkin was presented with the Best Playing Pony rug. A full report from this exciting event will feature in the next issue of Polo Times
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The Westchester Cup Teams:
Flannels England (25): James Beim (7), Ollie Cudmore (6), James Harper (7) & Tommy Beresford (5)
USA (28): Peke Gonzalez (5), Julio Arellano (8), Nic Roldan (8) & Jeff Hall (7)
The Thai Polo Club Ladies International for The Diamond Jubilee Teams:
Flannels England Ladies (28): Rosanna Turk (3), Tamara Fox (7), Hazel Jackson-Gaona (8) & Nina Clarkin (10)
Rest of the World Ladies (28): Philippa Fitz-Henry (6), Tiva Gross (6), Lía Salvo (9) & Sarah Wiseman (7)
Photograph: Flannels England secured The Westchester Cup at RCBPC on Saturday 28 July. By Cymon Skinner Photography
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