Clarita Black keep their nerve to win Al Habtoor Royal Windsor Cup
One of Guards Polo Clubâ€™s own patrons, Chris Mathias, stepped forward to receive The Al Habtoor Royal Windsor Cup from HM The Queen and Mr Khalaf Al Habtoor after a close game against El Remanso/Loro Piana on The Queenâ€™s Ground. Clarita Black had looked as if they had the win in the bag as they were leading 51/2-1 after two chukkas. This was thanks to some great play from Man of the Match, Jack Richardson, who was superbly supported by all of his team. Jackâ€™s performance in this final was all the more remarkable as he stepped into the team at the last minute after Ed Hitchman broke his foot playing polo earlier this week.
Surprisingly El Remanso/Loro Piana struggled to find their form in the opening chukkas. This team came back strongly in the third though, scoring three goals from the sticks of Charlie Hanbury and Eduardo Heguy to none in reply from Clarita Black. This closed the score to 51/2-4 to Clarita at half-time and encouraged the many spectators to eagerly return to their seats as this was shaping up to be a game to remember. Unfortunately neither team could live up to this earlier promise, with both sides only fielding two further goals each in the final two chukkas. This ensured Clarita Black won this leading 15-goal competition, securing their first Royal Windsor Cup victory. A delighted Chris Mathias was further delighted when he stepped up to receive the Al Habtoor Best Playing Pony Rug from HM The Queen for Eleonora, whom he had played in the first chukka.
The day started with an exhibition game featuring six members of the polo-loving Al Habtoor family, who have sponsored this prestigious Royal Windsor Cup competition for some five years. Mohammed Al Habtoor teamed up with his sons, Habtoor and Ahmed Mohammed and six-goal professional Guillermo Cuitino for Habtoor Polo. They defeated the Mahra Polo team 5-3, which featured Rashid Al Habtoor, his sons Tariq and Khalaf Rashid Al Habtoor and professional player Pepe Araya.
There was a third match on this day â€“ the subsidiary final for the Mountbatten Trophy. This was won by Tony Gerardâ€™s Montana team. They defeated Spencer McCarthyâ€™s Emlor S team 7 â€“ 5 on The Dukeâ€™s Ground in another close 15-goal game.
The world-renowned horse whisperer Monty Roberts was a guest in the Royal Box on this day too. Through his international Join Up organisation he wanted to recognise the work of several people from South and Central America and Mexico who have worked tirelessly to help stop violence in horse training. So Her Majesty, as patron of Join Up International, presented certificates to several key figures in the equine industry including the Mexican polo superstars Memo and Carlos Gracida.
The day concluded with a magnificent display from the class winners of the British Driving Society Show, who had been competing on the neighbouring Windsor Park Equestrian Club ground. Her Majesty was accompanied by HRH Prince Philip to award rosettes to the championship winners who had lined up in front of the Royal Box, making a superb and fitting finale to a truly wonderful day of equine excellence both off and on the field.
Clarita Black: Chris Mathias (1). German Llorens (3); Jack Richardson (4); Tom de Bruin (6).
El Remanso/Loro Piana: Alistair Patterson (1); George Hanbury (2); Charlie Hanbury (4); Eduardo Heguy (8).
Montana: Tony Gerard (0); Nick Pepper (3); Michel Del Carril (6); Santiago Gaztambide (6). Emlor S: Rex Woodhouse (1); Spencer McCarthy (2); Marcos Araya (6); Nacho Gonzalez (6).
Habtoor Polo: Mohammed Al Habtoor (0); Habtoor Al Habtoor (0); Ahmed Al Habtoor (0); Guillermo Cuitino (6). Mahra Polo: Rashid Al Habtoor (0); Tariq Al Habtoor (0); Khalaf Rashid Al Habtoor (0); Pepe Araya (6).