Black Bears find their growl to win cup

Although Clarita put up strong fight in La Martina Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Centenary Trophy

Guy Schwarzenbach led from the front to ensure that it was his Black Bears team that won the first 15-goal final at Guards Polo Club in 2016. In a tight and thrilling game on The Queen’s Ground, the Bears defeated Chris Mathias’s Clarita 7-6 in four chukkas to claim the La Martina Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Centenary Trophy. Teo van den Broeke, the Style Editor of Esquire magazine, presented Guy with the trophy on behalf of the La Martina team.

There was little to separate these two teams throughout the match and the La Martina guests and Club spectators appreciated such a great game so early in the season. This match was also a wonderful advert for English polo – not only was Guards Polo Club looking spectacular in the May sunshine – but seven-goaler Max Charlton, playing in his first season for the Bears, and six-goaler George Meyrick, at back for Clarita, produced some great polo in a bid to give their team the advantage. Although such passion did lead to Charlton being awarded a yellow card in the third – a warning from the umpires for hitting the ball after a whistle.

The young Argentine, Juan Cruz Merlos, the son of former Black Bears’ high-goal player Pite Merlos, showed a maturity way beyond his 18 years and it was no surprise that he was named La Martina Most Valuable Player. Clarita’s Chris Mackenzie, who was always in the right place at the right time to pick up the long shots from George Meyrick, received the Polo Times Best Playing Pony Prize. This was awarded by Nick and Richenda Hine, the publishers of Polo Times for Nebraska. Chris had played this nine-year-old, grey Argentine mare in the final chukka during which he scored a crucial goal.

The sub final was an equally close affair. Alan Fall’s Mad Dogs defeated Romilla Arber’s Four Quarters Black 8-7 in a match held earlier in the day.

La Martina has sponsored this 15-goal tournament, which this year attracted 11 teams, since 2009. That was the year that this leading polo kit and clothing brand first opened their shop at Guards Polo Club. Today not only does La Martina still run the Guards Polo Club Store but has now opened its flagship London store in St James’s.

Black Bears: Guy Schwarzenbach (1); James Lester (3); Max Charlton (7); Juan Cruz Merlos (4). Clarita: Chris Mathias (0); Freddie Horne (3); Chris Mackenzie (6); George Meyrick (6).

Mad Dogs: Alan Fall (0); George Pearson (2); William Emerson (5); Alejandro Novillo Astrada (8). Four Quarters Black: Romilla Arber (0); Tom Brodie (3); Richard Le Poer (6); Chris Hyde (6).

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