Last weekend saw another plethora of polo, with big days all over the country.
At Guards, Four Quarters won the Royal Windsor Cup — the biggest 15-goal championship on the globe — a great achievement for Simon Arber and his team [full report next week, 3 July].
At Cirencester Park, not only did they have their celebratory centenary ball, but also the final of the glamorous Warwickshire Cup. This being a work of art in itself, it was fittingly won by Halcyon Gallery in their second match together, beating Black Bears in a tight game.
Also in Gloucestershire was the first Audi International at the Beaufort Polo Club. Congratulations to the organisers for managing to ensure the weather was good and there were record crowds, with up to six rows of people on some parts of the ground trying to get a glimpse of their country take on Hong Kong.
Having been knocked out of the football World Cup, English sports enthusiasts got a great show of British sporting prowess as the Young England side, captained by James Harper, played excellent team polo and managed to beat the Hong Kong side by 10½ goals to 8.
I was luckily enough to be coaching the side and was amazed by the maturity and classic style of polo with which the team played.
One of the main tactics was to play with the “(micro-) chip change”.
By that I mean playing the style of four-man higher handicapped polo, which is a different style to the pro-am, which can be slower.
It is very hard to change the chip for a one-off match — it often takes the Argentine top players until the end of the Tortugas Open until they have successfully managed to change the chip.
This is when they start playing to the style that is most effective in that level of polo — not running with the ball and putting the pressure on the other team by hitting the ball early, trying to capitalize on the other team’s mistakes.
At the Beaufort it resulted well. We conceded fewer fouls as a result and the guys gelled well, performing as a cohesive unit. The Hong Kong team had a very strong middle — four goals stronger than ours — so the other tactic was discipline in that area.
Max Charlton and George Meyrick not only showed the discipline, but in many cases outplayed their eight-goal opponents. This was all done by playing simple team polo and was a pleasure to watch.
Now the selectors have to decide on the team for the big game at Guards. It will not be an easy decision but in a good way, because there are many players playing to a great level of polo. It is a good job the committee has the expert advice of Ruso Heguy to call on.
The future of the English team is looking strong with the amount of young talent coming through. They will only be limited by the opportunity to play in the best polo and the ability to mount themselves to an exceptional standard.
Both things are possible but need focus, skill, money and luck — in that order.
Together with Wimbledon and the sunshine, the Gold Cup has arrived at last to the hallowed turf in sunny Sussex. Cowdray Park boasts six top-class high-goal grounds, with two more local fields they can call on, which are also within the best grounds in the country.
The region’s sandy soil and the added space, as well as the care to laser-level the ancillary fields and move the grounds up to the next level over the past 10 years, means that the location provides some of the best games in Europe.