International Arena Test Match

England v USA for the Bryan Morrison Trophy

AEPC Hickstead 28th February 2009


For the first time in UK Arena Polo history, a 20 Goal arena polo test match took place hosted by The All England Polo Club at the world-renowned equestrian venue Hickstead.


The HPA decided after the previous year’s success hosting a South African test match, that they would make it an inaugural event, this time asking the Americans to take part.


America has had a long established relationship with Arena polo, and as one of their main university sports, they had no problem in sending over a competitive 20 goal side to take on the English.


The American team was made up of youth and experience and also had a family angle. Captain Billy Sheldon (7 goals) is the uncle of star 8 goal player, Shane Rice. The experience came in the form of Charlie Muldoon who off of 5 goals has certainly played and been involved in polo for long enough to give him the edge in an event like this.


The English side was made up of strength and talent. Nacho Gonzalez was made the captain and off of his 9 goals was definitely a man to look out for on the day. He was supported by Howard Smith playing off 6 goals, an experienced and sturdy arena player. Ryan Pemble completed the side with a handicap of 5 goals, having played exceptionally well in the National Club Championships and playing well above handicap in the weeks before.


The match set off at a fast pace and the scores were fairly close. There were some great team plays between the USA, and the English side showed some real individual talent. It was in the third chukka that the English took the arena by storm and notched up several goals to take a convincing lead. The USA side still stayed determined with Billy Sheldon falling from his horse, but showing his might, promptly remounted. Shane Rice made some superb plays and Charlie Muldoon defended superbly.


The English side held strong in the last chukka with goals from all three players on the team. The final score was 15-9 to England, leaving the USA to return home without the trophy. This is the second year England have taken the Bryan Morrison Trophy and they are keen to win it back again next year.


Ryan Pemble was awarded Most Valuable player for his superb play, and Heidi, played by Howard Smith and owned by John Horswell, took home the Retraining of Racehorses Best Playing Pony award.


In the first match of the day, The 12 Goal Challenge, Ash Farm took on Hard Riders. It was a great way to start the day with a competitive match that was very evenly contested throughout. It was only in the last chukka that Sebastian Dawnay snuck away with the ball to score some quick goals, that Ash Farm secured victory. George McCorkell of Hard Riders was awarded with a Polistas jacket for being the Most Valuable Player of the match.