A Royal Victory: England Crowned Champions of the Fortune Heights Snow Polo World Cup 2014
England, the nation that gave polo its famous moniker â€˜the sport of kingsâ€™, reclaimed its crown today with a hard-fought win over Hong Kong China in the final of the Fortune Heights Snow Polo World Cup 2014.
After a thrilling four chukkas, England trotted off the field 6 â€“ 5 the victors, and in so doing, denied their opponents Hong Kong China a third successive championship victory. Jubilant, the English trio of Max Routledge, Jack Richardson and Max Charlton had finally settled the score against their fierce rivals Hong Kong China, a team that had beaten them on almost every occasion at the Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club.
In the previous two Fortune Heights Snow Polo World Cups, England had drawn Hong Kong China at the semi-final stages, and on both occasions were dumped out of the competition, with Hong Kong China going on to win the title. In last yearâ€™s Fortune Heights Super Nations Cup final, they met again, and once again, Hong Kong China triumphed, beating the English 11 â€“ 7.
Summing up the reasons for this yearâ€™s success, England coach Alan Kent cited discipline and teamwork. â€œThey are a young team but they bonded very well together,â€ said Kent, delighted with the way his side had performed. â€œWe have got better with each game,â€ explained England captain Max Charlton. â€œToday we went out there and just gave it everything.â€
Hong Kong Chinaâ€™s Facundo LLorente was magnanimous in defeat. â€œEngland are a great team. We played well but they played a bit better â€“ sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.â€
In front of an expectant home crowd, Dr. Richard Caleel, President of the Federation of International Polo, had the honour of throwing the ball in to set in motion the grand final of the 2014 Fortune Heights Snow Polo World Cup.
It was local favourite John Fisher who opened the scoring for Hong Kong China, capping off a powerful charge by Facundo LLorente. Englandâ€™s Max Routledge then denied Hong Kong China a second with a trademark save on the line, a let-off that spurred the English to get into the game. Clever approach play by Jack Richardson earned a 30-yard penalty, which Max Charlton squeezed just inside the post to even the odds.
The pendulum started to swing Englandâ€™s way, Jack Richardson adding a second to push ahead of Hong Kong China. Then, a hush of concern rippled around the polo field – Richardson, taking a nasty knock to the head, lay un-horsed and prone on the snow. After medical attention, he was deemed fit to continue, and to a round of applause from the crowd, retook the field to play out the final seconds of the chukka.
Englandâ€™s Richardson and Charlton linked up well to break the deadlock in a free-flowing second chukka, nosing ahead 3 â€“ 1. Hong Kong China put themselves back in it with Facundo LLorente picking up Terreraâ€™s pass to stroke the ball between the posts. At the halfway stage of the match there was still everything to play for, England edging Hong Kong China by three goals to two.
The fearless English trio stepped on the gas in the penultimate chukka, adding three more goals to their tally, two courtesy of Max Charlton and one from Jack Richardson. Meanwhile, their efforts to shadow the pony of Guillermo Terrera were paying dividends, the eight-goal polo master having little room to stamp his authority on the match. Facundo LLorente did manage to put a goal on the board for Hong Kong China, but the home side had left themselves with a great deal to do, going into the final chukka trailing 6 – 3.
John Fisher rallied the troops with a penalty goal for Hong Kong China early in the final chukka. Then followed a let-off for the home side, as Jack Richardsonâ€™s run at goal was saved on the line by the stick of Facundo LLorente. Turning defence into attack, LLorente broke through the English lines to score on the 30-second bell, but it wouldnâ€™t be enough. England clung on to run down the clock, the final buzzer after ten days of fierce competition music to their ears: signalling that England, at last, had won the Fortune Heights Snow Polo World Cup.
In an all South-American subsidiary final, Chile triumphed over Brazil with the narrowest of victories to clinch third place and cap a very respectable tournament of snow polo. Tied at nine goals each after a chaotic quartet of chukkas that saw Brazil come back from four goals down, the game went to a fifth sudden death chukka, with neither team able to score. Ultimately, Brazil were left to rue their wastefulness from the 30-yard penalty line, missing two chances to seal the win and instead having to contest a penalty shoot-out. Chile kept their nerve to score all three of their goals to Brazilâ€™s two.
At the tournamentâ€™s closing ceremony, Dr. Richard Caleel, President of the Federation of International Polo, congratulated England on their victory, and expressed his thanks to all involved for staging such a world class event.
Englandâ€™s Jack Richardson was the proud recipient of the Most Valuable Player Award, a testament to the skill and courage the young polo star had exhibited throughout the tournament. As is the polo tradition, the ponies had their deserved moment in the limelight, with the Best Pony Award given to Negro, ridden by Hong Kong China.
With the Fortune Heights Snow Polo World Cup 2014 concluded, polo fans in China and around the world can now look ahead to an exciting programme of events coming later in the year at the Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club, including the Metropolitan Polo Classic 2014, the Metropolitan Intervasity Polo 2014, and the FIP Super Nations Cup 2014.
The results so far:
Wednesday, 8 January 2014
Hong Kong China vs Spain