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Mon 29th Jul 2019

Argentina Lift Coronation Cup

The International Test Match at RCBPC

On Saturday 27 July, the polo world’s eyes were turned on The Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club, as Frasers England came up against age-old rivals Argentina in The International Test Match for The Coronation Cup. Despite wonderfully sunny weather in the week prior, the weather took a turn for the cool and rainy as the players took to the field for what was set to be an exciting match. Going into the day, the odds were very much stacked in Argentina’s favour, with not only 10 goal powerhouse Facundo Pieres leading the side, but the likes of young stars Juan Britos and King Power Gold Cup winning Bartolomé Castagnola also sporting the blue and white shirts.

Frasers England had their work cut out, a point well and truly proved in the first chukka, as at the end of a fraught seven minutes, Argentina were leading 5-0. Frasers England were rattled, and it took until midway through the second chukka for Jack Richardson to put the home team on the scoreboard. Going into half-time, Argentina were leading 9-3, and with only three whistles blown in three chukkas, Argentina were seemingly making no mistakes from which Frasers England could find solace. Many seasoned polo aficionados were querying the HPA’s wisdom of encouraging the evident ‘free-flowing’ style of polo.

Following a stern team talk with coach Will Lucas during the break, Frasers England came back two goals in the fourth and seemingly strong team play, but it was too little too late for the home team. Despite a couple of foal bounces for Facundo Pieres, with the crowd shouting, “God bless the English divot!”, Argentina were streams ahead, 11-6, going into the final chukka. Argentina cemented their victory with three more goals in the final seven minutes, despite some very strong defence from the Frasers England side, winning 14-6.

Following the match, the teams gathered for the presentation in front of the Royal Box, which began with a touching video tribute to the late Bryan Morrison, who was also presented with this year’s HPA Lifetime Achievement Award, which was received by his son and daughter, Jamie and Carina Morrison. Following this, the Ferguson Trophy, traditionally awarded at The International, was presented to this year’s winner, Ollie Cork. Argentina’s Juan Britos was named Most Valuable Player alongside the two Best Playing Ponies of the day – Twitter, owned by Jim Gilmore and played by Facundo Pieres was named the Best Playing Pony, whilst Harmony World, owned and played by Jack Richardson, was named the RoR Best Playing Pony.

The general consensus, both prior to and following the match, was one of confusion, as the Argentine team’s handicaps did not reflect the unquestionable talent on the field. With Alfonso Pieres rated at 6 goals in Argentina and just 4 goals in England, as well as Bartolito Castagnola’s rating sitting at 7 goals in Argentina and just 6 goals here in England, there were, unsurprisingly, murmurs of discontent from the home crowd, not to mention within the ranks of the Frasers England team itself. This is not the first time this issue has been risen, nor will it be the last, with our Letter of the Month in the August issue of Polo Times, reflecting this exact issue. Despite the enclosures appearing well attended, a further comment was made in relation to the noticeably low turnout of the general public, perhaps due to the inclement weather, or the lack of fieldside spectator spots, accessible for the general public – or indeed the anticipated one-sided match that it turned out to be. A full report from The International Test Match will feature in the September issue of Polo Times, so click here now to make sure your subscription is up to date.

The International Test Match for The Coronation Cup Teams:
Argentina (27): Alfonso Pieres (4), Juan Britos (7), Bartolomé Castagnola (6) & Facundo Pieres (10)
Frasers England (27): James Beim (7), Ollie Cudmore (6), Jack Richardson (7) & James Harper (7)
Photograph: Argentina lift The Coronation Cup at The Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club. By Polo Times

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