St Regis International Championship
High-goal stars from the luxury swiss watchmaker Piaget US polo team crossed the Atlantic in May to challenge England’s national team in the St Regis International test match at Cowdray Park Polo Club, “the Home of British Polo”.
The St Regis test between England and USA on May 19 was the first time in 15 years that the two countries have met on grass in the UK. It was the first in a 2012 series of international matches being staged by the Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA), governing body of the sport in the UK and Ireland, and supported by the upscale car manufacturer Audi.
The USA team, sanctioned by the US Polo Association (USPA), was fielded by Marc Ganzi who, with his wife Melissa, put together Piaget teams in high-goal polo at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPCPB) and their own club, Grand Champions. The team included two of America’s top professionals, 7-goalers Nick Roldan (captain) and Jeff Hall, who play regularly with the Ganzis in Florida. American-born Paul Pieres, 8, completed the USA’s 23-goal line-up.
The Americans were faced with a well-practiced, 24-goal England team of 7-goalers Luke Tomlinson (captain) and James Beim; Malcolm Borwick, 6, and Ollie Cudmore, 4, all professionals. As the USA team included a 1-goal amateur player, Ganzi, the home team were originally favourites to win the St Regis.
As it turned out, however, the two teams appeared evenly matched in both player and pony power and the USA dominated the first half of the match, in the end losing by only half a goal to England in a nail-biting finish.
The visitors started the test with half a point on the scoreboard reflecting the handicap difference. England briefly took the lead in the first chukka, but the USA responded to end the period with a 2½-2 advantage.
England came back in the second period to lead 5-3½ at the bell. The USA forged ahead in the third chukka, ending it ahead 6½-6. The fourth period went to England who outplayed the visitors to finish 9-7½. Five minutes into the fifth and final chukka, the USA snatched the lead back from England, but lost it again almost immediately. Then in the final minute of the match England fouled and the USA was awarded a 60-yard penalty try. England’s Beim blocked the try, the bell sounded and the home team came out the victors, 11-10½.
The USA Piaget player Nick Roldan, who scored seven of his team’s goals, took honours as the Most Valuable Player of the test.
The HPA and the USPA are now discussing a 2013 revival of the famous Westchester Cup series between England and the USA which started in 1886 and was last won by England at IPCBP in 2009.
Next year’s Westchester Cup would be played for at the HPA’s Audi International, the world’s biggest one-day polo event. It appears likely that Piaget Polo’s American stars would again be called upon to represent their country.