Page 40
eyes on the prize

Herbert Spencer tells the story of the world's most famous and historic polo trophies

When it comes to sports trophies, most competitors are more concerned with winning them than with appreciating their legacy. And in polo this is particularly true, especially when the importance of competitions at which polo trophies are presented is not always reflected in how big, beautiful or impressive the prizes might be.

Size for one, is irrelevant for polo prizes. Nothing demonstrates this more dramatically than the high-goal Queen's Cup in England and the low-goal Kolanka Cup in India. The Queen's Cup traditionally presented by Her Majesty The Queen at Guards Polo Club to the winners of England's second most important tournament is the sort of small, plain silver bowl one might find filled with bon-bons on a sideboard in a stately home.

Awarded since 1956 to some of polo's top teams from around the world, this discreet royal prize is dwarfed by the six-foot tall Kolanka Cup, awarded to the winners of a humble competition in Madras. Donated by the Raja of Kolanka between the wars, the cup was once marked by the Guinness Book of Records as the world's largest sports trophy. While the Queen's Cup won't even hold a full bottle of celebratory champagne, it would take more than 27 bottles of bubbly to fill the giant Indian trophy.

The Kolanka Cup towers above even the Coronation Cup, the substantial bit of precious metal presented for the annual high-goal test between England and a visiting national team at the Cartier International, the flagship event of the Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA) with over 25,000 spectators. This silver gilt trophy, displayed in Piccadilly's Cavalry & Guards Club between events, is currently insured by the HPA for 85,000.

Garrard the Crown Jewellers crafted the Coronation Cup in 1911, the same year that the London firm made ornate crowns for Queen Mary and King George V's coronation and the Emperor of India's spectacular durbar in Delhi. Established in 1735, Garrard was not only responsible for maintaining the Tower of London's crown jewels, but also fashioned many of the world's most famous sports trophies among them sailing's America's Cup, the Cricket World Cup and of course many glittering polo prizes.

Across the Atlantic, jeweller Tiffany & Co which has made famous sports trophies like those for baseball's World Series and the US Open tennis championship made the Westchester Cup for the world's oldest international polo tournament, a series that started in 1886 and was played intermittently between the USA and England. America's

While the Queen's Cup won't hold a full bottle of celebratory champagne, it would take more than 27 to fill the giant silver Kolanka Cup