Jonny Good leads England to victory in the Bryan Morrison Trophy at Hickstead
England secured a narrow 12-11 win over the Commonwealth team in the Bryan Morrison Trophy, the annual international arena polo Test Match held at the All England Polo Club, Hickstead (Saturday 4 March).
It was the third successive win for Team England, who were victorious over the USA twelve months ago and beat Ireland in this match in 2015.
Captaining England for the first time in the Hickstead test match was Jonny Good, who was joined by teammates Adolfo Casabal and Harold Hodges. Representing the Commonwealth were captain Jamie Morrison, playing alongside Mikey Henderson and Ryan Pemble. Both teams were evenly-matched with a handicap of 22 goals apiece, and an extremely close game ensued, going right to the wire.
Right from the start, the pace was frenetic with the fight for the lead switching between both teams throughout the match. At the end of each of the first three chukkas, there was never more than a goal in the scores, which kept the spectators guessing as to who would raise the Trophy.
Going into the fourth and final chukka, the Commonwealth led by 9 goals to 8, so it was all to play for. The pressure was evident for both teams, as Casabal for England and Pemble for the Commonwealth both missed several of their penalties in the first three minutes.
However, England’s Harold Hodges rose to the challenge in the last chukka, and as the pressure mounted he deftly scored two field goals, taking England into the lead. Despite valiant attempts by the Commonwealth, a further penalty converted by Casabal took the final score to 12-11 in England’s favour.
“It was a classic game of two halves,” said Jonny Good. “Their tactics were very good in the first half, whereas I don’t think ours were quite right, but we had a little swap around in the second half, and managed to stay in the mix and open it up in the end. But it was close, and could have gone to extra time – with two seconds on the clock we were able to sneak it.”
The Commonwealth’s Ryan Pemble received The Polo Magazine Most Valuable Player Award, while Rainbow, an 11-year-old bay mare owned by Richard Blake Thomas and played by England captain Jonny Good, was awarded the Polo Times Best Playing Pony rug.
“It is an honour to be the Hurlingham Polo Association’s chosen venue for this Test Match, the ninth to be held here at Hickstead," said John Bunn, Chairman of the All England Polo Club. “Once again we were blessed with fine weather, and it was wonderful day of top-class Arena Polo. Many thanks to our sponsors Playnation, Bunn Leisure, the HPA, ABI and British Polo Gin.”
The first game of the day was the 12-goal Challenge Match between Hedonism Wines and Four Quarters, which ended in an 11-11 draw.
The Arena Polo season at Hickstead draws to a close this month, while the international showjumping season gets underway in June with the Hickstead Derby Meeting (22-25 June), followed by the Longines Royal International Horse Show (26-30 July). Tickets are on sale now at www.hickstead.co.uk.
The Bryan Morrison Trophy
England (22): Jonny Good (8), Harold Hodges (6) & Adolfo Casabal (7)
Commonwealth (22): Jamie Morrison (7), Michael Henderson (6) & Ryan Pemble (8)
12-goal Challenge Match
Hedonism Wines (12): Evgeny Chichvarkin (1), Sebastian Dawnay (7) & Royston Prisk (4)
Four Quarters (12): Simon Arber (1), Josh Clover (3) & Richard, The Earl of Tyrone (8)