England’s success in the morning’s Whitbread Trophy continued through to the afternoon, with the Guard crowds treated to a well-spirited clash between some of the world’s best players in the fight for the King’s Coronation Cup. Heading into the match, the Commonwealth were keen to extend the 2-1 record against England in this match, while England captain Tommy Beresford left no doubt that his team were determined to even the score.
The Commonwealth team started with a goal on the board, comprising of Garvy Beh (5), Chris MacKenzie (6), JP Clarkin (6) and captain Fred Mannix (7) for a total of 24. England fielded a 25-goal team of Max Charlton (6), Ollie Cudmore (6), and James Beim (6), led by Tommy Beresford (7).
It was all Beresford in the first chukka; starting the match with a well-lofted penalty to equalise, and then winning a big ride-off to swing the board into England’s favour before sealing the deal with another confident penalty. Chris MacKenzie, representing South Africa, prevented a clean sweep by hammering home a goal in the final 30 seconds. It was a great start for the home side, looking well-structured and extremely strong while the Commonwealth team took time to find their feet.
The second chukka opened with some missed early chances for the Commonwealth, despite Chris MacKenzie playing an attacking game. England’s Ollie Cudmore ran well ahead of the field to fire a goal in from 60 yards out, before sending the ball down to Max Charlton with a huge hit for his teammate to take forward and score. A single goal from Commonwealth captain Fred Mannix, who fought off the defence of James Beim, in the closing stages gave the Commonwealth supporters reason to celebrate. The 30-second bell went, but that didn’t stop England powerhouse Max Charlton from firing the ball down the field to the waiting James Beim, who tapped the ball despite a tussle close to the line. His efforts were well-rewarded as the goal was good and the England team finished the second chukka ahead 6-3.
The Commonwealth team, coached by John Horswell, found their momentum in the third chukka, with England’s defence working hard to keep them at bay. The sole goal in this chukka came from Fred Mannix, who sent home a penalty despite a less-than-smooth approach, and left Commonwealth hopes high heading into half time.
The second half started with an action-packed chukka that saw five goals added to the board. James Beim swooped in to take the ball from Malaysian debutant Garvy Beh, sending it home for 7-4, before Chris MacKenzie sent the ball down field to find JP Clarkin, who opened his account at high speed with a late charge from Beresford not enough to keep him from scoring. Goals from Charlton and Mannix added to each team’s tally before Cudmore rode another flier down the field to score again with just seconds to go and end the fourth chukka 9-6. The Commonwealth had found their rhythm but would need a stronger attack to swing this match their way.
The fifth chukka demonstrated exactly why England have enjoyed a fantastic international season, and coach Luke Tomlinson encouraged the brilliant teamwork between the home side players that would prove the key. Beresford converted a penalty with confidence before Cudmore, fighting a ride-off from Mannix, found Beim at the goal to draw five goals ahead. Mannix kept his team in the hunt with a high, smooth penalty hit to head into the final chukka 11-7.
The Beim-Cudmore alliance swept through the field once again at the start of the final chukka, with Beim scoring through an open goal thanks to Cudmore’s strong riding seeing off the competition. Mannix scored again to bring the score to 12-8, but the England team proved too strong for the Commonwealth horsepower, and despite fighting all the way to the end, the visiting team could not see off the home side, who had kept their promise of keeping the King’s Coronation Cup on English soil. The team were presented with the coveted trophy by The Right Honourable Patricia Scotland KC, Baroness Scotland of Asthal, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, in an evening ceremony supported by family, friends, and spectators to finish a spectacular day.
It was Chris MacKenzie who took home the Most Valuable Player, having played a brilliant attacking game. The Best Playing ROR also went home with MacKenzie, being awarded to his own Biento (racing name Badalona Breeze), who was formerly trained by Mick Appleby.
Best Playing Pony was awarded to Tommy Beresford’s own Teddy, with his groom Raul Mora picking up the cash prize. Tommy’s mother Teresa Beresford was on hand to present the Donoso Trophy, traditionally awarded to the captain of the opposing team, to Fred Mannix in memory of her late brother Gabriel Donoso, whose name appears twice on the Coronation Cup after wins in 1998 and 2004.
The sun was shining and the party continued with a performance from the Rick Parfitt Jnr Band, as the mood was high after two brilliant matches in the glorious Guards Polo Club grounds. An historic Coronation Cup year with unmissable polo – watch it all again here.