The Hurlingham Polo 1875 Coronation Cup returned to the famed Queen’s Ground at Guards Polo Club on the penultimate Saturday in July and appropriately delivered a stand-out match befitting such a prestigious international test. This contest was the showcase match in a packed itinerary of sport curated by the Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA) to highlight every generation playing polo in the UK today.
England, captained by James Harper, delivered an impressive and cohesive performance to defeat a strong Uruguay squad (receiving a goal on handicap) 11-9. The visiting team, led by Alejo de Taranco Stirling, were making their debut in this match and put up a strong opposition, staying very much in contention until the final whistle. No doubt the visitors were spurred on by the huge amount of vocal support from the stands, the blue and white flag of the South American nation clearly evident throughout the ground. This was one of the best Coronation Cup matches in recent years as the teams were so evenly matched. England may have finished all but the first chukka ahead, but the margin between these two international teams was so small that neither side could relax for a moment.
Accurate goal scoring, be it from the field or from penalties, by England seven-goaler Tommy Beresford was instrumental in keeping England ahead, especially in the later stages of the game when the home side managed to create and then maintain a two-goal lead. Tommy finished the match as home side’s top goal scorer, firing through five goal and so was named the Corpay Most Valuable Player. Highlighting the closeness of this match, Uruguay’s Ignacio Viana finished as the visitors’ top scorer, also with a five-goal tally.
England captain James Harper was at the top of his game, often finishing a chukka with a goal to confirm England’s dominance. James Beim, who has had a standout season in the high-goal this year, was an expert in running through traffic, including scoring a crucial goal at the start of the sixth to give England a three-goal advantage (10-7) at a key moment. Meanwhile Louis Hine, who aged 16 is the youngest player ever to represent England in the Coronation Cup, played with a maturity well beyond his years, working hard to keep Uruguayan players away from the play, so freeing up Harper and Beresford to score. He also added to England’s tally too.
Pony power is often an issue for the visiting team but looking at the pony list this did not seem to be a problem for Uruguay. Taranco Stirling works for La Dolfina and so it was no surprise to see him ride seven Adolfo Cambiaso horses on Saturday. Juan Martin Nero provided the majority of Santi Stirling’s string while Santi’s brother, Pelon, who was coaching the visitors, offered several of his string to Viana and Juan Enrique Curbelo. It was Pelon’s Maserati, which had been made by former England team captain Luke Tomlinson, who was named the Derby House Best Playing Pony. Viana received the prize from the sponsor John Baguley.
There was a second pony award from this Coronation Cup game – the Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) Champion. This went to Harper’s Lobster, whom he had played in the second and fifth chukkas. Beth Howlett from the RoR presented the prize to the delighted England captain and his grooms.
The day had started with two games featuring the next generation of polo players. The Colts Cup featuring the under 17s was a win for the Hurlingham team (rec ½ goal). Sixteen-year-old Will Millard, who already plays off two goals, was the standout player, ensuring Hurlingham had a comfortable 3½ - 0 lead at half-time. They went on to beat 1875 5½ – 3 on the stunning Princes’ Ground at Guards Polo Club. Next up were the under 14s in the Stagshead Trophy. The 1875 team (rec ½ goal on handicap) took this win, beating Hurlingham in a closer game, 3½-3. England player Louis Hine had competed in this trophy in 2016 and just six years later was playing for the senior squad on this day – the perfect inspiration for all these young players.
Louis’s older brother, Ned, may not have been playing on this day but also headed home with a trophy. He received the Ferguson Trophy at the main prize presentation as he was named the HPA’s Best Young English Player of the Year, receiving the impressive cup from Andrew Barlow, Chair of the HPA’s Development and Coaching Committee.
These junior matches were followed by chukka from the Pony Club “Fluffies”. The blue team dominated this game, beating the red team 4-0. The day concluded with a University Challenge match featuring the Hurlingham Academicals v the SUPA Stars (rec ½ goal on handicap). The Hurlingham Academicals won this four-chukka contest 7-4½. The winners’ Dom Lodge was named the Most Valuable Player and received a pair of handmade knee pads from The Prime Warden The Hon Mark Maffey of the Worshipful Company of Saddlers.
The Coronation Cup’s packed programme of sport highlighted the depth and strength of polo in the UK. The England’s team victory was not only an inspiration to all those up-and-coming players but the perfect platform to welcome this mighty cup back to Guards Polo Club.
Coronation Cup: England: Louis Hine (4); James Beim (6); James Harper (7); Tommy Beresford (7). Uruguay: Ignacio Viana (4); Juan Enrique Curbelo (6); Alejo Taranco Stirling (8); Santiago Stirling (5).
Colts Cup: Hurlingham: Archie Heseltine (0); Billy Barlow (-1); Nico Hiller (0);Will Millard (2). 1875: Rufus Uloth (1); Hector Rogberg (1); George Copcutt (0); Lucas Stern (0).
Stagshead Trophy: 1875: Zhihuan Yan (1); Bea Leyland (-1); Bruno Bradshaw (-1); Matias Maldonado (-1). Hurlingham: abella Lavinia (-1); Hari Dhillon (-1); Wilfred Bate (-1); Rafi Bruckner (0).
Fluffies: Blue Team: Alice Gregory; Lara Gregory; Olivia Allen; Matias Maldonado. Red Team: Thalia Coombes; Emily Sheppard; Alex Radcliff; Henry Whittington.
University Challenge: Hurlingham Academicals: Tamara Gibbons (0); Freddie Barlow (1); Milly Hine (2); Dom Lodge (4). SUPA Stars: Jasmine Stanhope-White (1); Thomas Gordon-Colebrooke (1); Tom Coid (2); Angus Rowan-Hamilton (2).