Coronation Cup 2007

England v Chile


Guards Polo Club

Sunday 29th July

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Despite the recent weather got up early on a Sunday morning, yes early, packed cameras and assorted equipment into the car and headed off to Guards for the Golden Jubilee Trophy and the Coronation Cup. Having at least checked Guards' website that the matches were going to be played - there was going to be some High Goal Polo - which makes it all worthwhile (even the early Sunday morning). However my trusty note-taker was unavailable which meant a change at the last minute (thanks Diana for agreeing to the change for the press list) and I was to be meeting up with D'Arcy (a -1 goaler) at Sunningdale Station at 10 o'clock - or was I?

Southwest Trains - what a load of useless to**ers!

Please excuse the statement of the obvious! - The 9.09 train left Waterloo without any passengers - without D'Arcy, my note-taker - and without a further, goodly, 200+ people who were waiting on the platform, trying to get to Guards!! Can't SWT get their priorities right - and transport people to where they want to go at the time advertised?!

There I was at Sunningdale Station, ignorantly waiting for a train that wasn't going to arrive - until the 'phone rang and I was told the whole miserable story - what a way to start the day - it is hard enough work to photograph Polo let alone try to take notes too - so my apologies to you all for the very brief comments on the Golden Jubilee Trophy.

Anyway - Guards' were brilliant about the problem and D'Arcy was able to get in and joined me in time for a sandwich and a chat before the main match. It was all worth it - especially as the match was also being played, part, in tribute to the life of Gabriel Donoso (46, a 9 goaler, former Chilean Polo Team Captain and brother of José) who had died in a training accident the previous November whilst schooling horses.

Guards looked amazing - as always - and although the ground was soft (the press car park was part quagmire in the morning) and the outfield obviously soggy, the field of play looked good - although being soft more tiring for the horses - I was just hoping the play would be more fluid than it had been the previous weekend at Midhurst.

The first order of the day was the Golden Jubilee Trophy the Prince of Wales' team vs Hurlingham. The PoW team was without either of the Princes - which was a shame, but was made up of Olly Hipwood (5), Peter Webb (5), Malcolm Borwick (6) and Bk Chris Hyde (6) - Total 22; against Satnam Dhillon (6), James Harper (6), Tom Moreley (5) and Bk Roddy Williams (6) - Total 23. The game was played over 5 chukkas and thus the Prince's team started with a ½ goal lead - and a good start to the day this was (did I mention the lack of a note taker?) with some good play from both teams and a final score of 9-8½ in Hurlingham's favour. (When I have finished going through the pics I will write more - the match did deserve it - however a little thought - if a game is played over 5 chukkas - when is half-time?)

3:15 p.m. soon came around along with skies clearing from the threatening clouds - and the serious stuff - The Cartier International 2007, the parade as always was colourful, well received (especially the Hounds) and a scene-setter for the spectacle of the day. Of course Guards was also full of 'pretty-young-things' dressed up to the nines and guzzling 'Champers' as if Veuve Clicquot had moved up from Midhurst with the excess stock from the previous weekend.

England comprised of:-

 1, James Beim (6); 2, Henry Brett (7); 3, Luke Tomlinson (7) and Bk Nacho Gonzalez (6) -Total 26

Chile fielded:-

1, José Rafael Zegers (4); 2, Martin Zegers (6); 3 José Donoso (7) and Bk Jaime Huidobro (8) - Total 25

The game was set for 6 chukkas and thus Chile started with a 1 goal handicap lead.

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Starting off the match Henry Brett almost opened the scoring in the first minute taking off down the pitch but without success at the end of it. After a penalty hit to Chile from the halfway spot Brett again took off down the pitch but pushed the shot wide. Nacho Gonzalez then passed the ball up-field to James Beim who dribbled it for the last 40 yards and put it through the posts. 1-1. A couple of minutes later, during some open play Gonzalez crossed the line of the ball when Chile were making an attacking play and gave away a 40 yard penalty that was taken by Jamie Huidobro and saved on the line by James Beim.

The second chukka started with England gaining a penalty at the half-way line due to a foul by Chile due to turning on the line of the ball - this led to a delicate backhand pass setting up a shot for Henry Brett to tap over the line - 2:1 to England. There then followed a period of flowing play, in which a high level of accurate backhand passes were used to good effect, until Brett was judged to have caused a foul - Chile were given a 40 yd penalty and Jamie Huidobro converted it to bring the scores level at 2-All. England were soon given a penalty for Chile crossing the line of the ball near the side boarding - this was taken by James Beim and almost saved on the line - England were back in the lead 3:2 at the end of the chukka.

Into the third and Luke Tomlinson certainly came 'out of the pit lane' - so to speak - with fire about him taking the ball from the throw-in and demonstrating a fantastic run, always ahead of his marker, to take the score to 4:2 (just to let you realise how fast this goal was, the hand on the clock had hardly moved off the 7 minutes of play left in the chukka!) - and to a rousing reception from the crowd. It was from this point, however, that Chile seemed to change gear as it looked like the match might get away from them with this England attack; the Chilean team started to work as a team - utilising individual skills and team discipline, keeping consistent pressure on the England team that resulted in a 60 yard penalty being awarded to Chile and that was taken by Jaime (4) and appeared to go wide...after a bit of discussion the goal was awarded, somewhat controversially, with just under 5 minutes of the period left to play; 4:3 to England. Play resumed with end-to-end action from both teams until Chile managed to complete a superb run and saw Jaime Huidobro take the ball over the line (2 minutes to go). England did try to break back but after a good run the ball was cleared by Chile - giving the spectators an excellent spectacle leading into the half-time break; 4-All.

With the start of the second half, the 4th chukka, Chile continued to take the initiative away from the England team that had started out so well, picking up the ball in the England half and after a mere 3 strokes, with a nearside tap, sending the ball over the goal line from just 10 yards out - 5:4 to Chile. From the throw-in Chile embarked on another run which saw José Zegers attempt a cut-shot that went wide of the flags but England failed to clear the ball or relieve the pressure, finally giving away a 40 yard penalty having crossed the line of the ball. Jaime Huidobro dutifully converted this to take the lead to 6:4 against the England team. From the throw-in Chile were immediately on the attack again and England, demonstrating sloppy defensive techniques let Martin Zegers score with a crisp under-the-neck shot from 10 yards out - 7:4. The home team then appeared to finally find some form and get 'stuck back in the match' and put some (much needed) pressure on Chile - there was a melée in front of Chile's goal and England were awarded a penalty 5 yards out which was successfully taken by Nacho - 7:5. Chile continued their match-play, immediately returning to the attack created an open run and Jaime tapped the ball home - over the line to end the chukka at 8:5, in the last seconds of the chukka, in the visitors' favour; oh dear!

The 5th Chukka and time for England to regain the earlier initiative they had shown - we hoped...everyone who plays or watches Polo (with even some semblance of an understanding of the game) knows that a match can easily change - and very quickly - England needed to demonstrate this before time ran out and they were in a position that would be impossible to come back from - three down was not too great a difference with two chukkas to play - Chile had just turned the match around in the previous two! The start of the chukka showed open play and no goals for the first 3 minutes or so. then a penalty was given against Chile for crossing the line - several players then decided to change horses - Nacho took advantage of this taking the penalty - passing to James Beim who passed it back to Nacho who put it between the posts - 8:6. Chile counter attacked and made England concede a penalty in front of their posts after a frantic defence José Donoso casually added the extra point to the scoreboard - back to a 3 goal lead at the end of the fifth: Chile 9 - England 6.

Into the last - 7 minutes to go and what could England do?...within 30 seconds James Beim had shown us what he wanted to do - having made a move up the field from the throw-in - using short passes and good support from the team and slotting the ball home from about 10 yards out - 9:7. After the restart England kept the pressure up forcing Chile into conceding a penalty within 30 yards of their goal - James Beim again put the penalty away from the 30 yard spot 8:9 and 2½ minutes to go. Things were really starting to become interesting (I must admit thoughts were going through my head about how much more storage capacity I had if it went to a decider 7th chukka). With about 30 seconds left on the clock England made an attack on Chile's goal at the far end of the field - and I am sorry to say I don't quite know what happened...but it looked as if Luke Tomlinson was taking the ball through the posts at the end of a run and that the ball was going slower that the horses, José Zegers  was just to his right...even on the playback on the big screen it wasn't too clear...but it definitely looked as if the ball caught the rear left hoof of Zegers' mount and was it either kicked off the line (?) - or maybe went over (?) the umpires were discussing this the bell went and Chile were declared the winners 9:8

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And how did D'Arcy get home? - by train which actually turned up - as observed by some wag at the station...

All content/images © Duncan Murray/ 2007