Park Place emerged from one of the largest fields ever (21 teams) to win the 2017 Bentley Motors Royal Windsor Cup yesterday on The Queen’s Ground at Guards Polo Club. The tournament is considered the largest and most prestigious 15-goal competition of the English season.
Park Place took the win 8-7 over Twelve Oaks in a 5-chukka match that begged for overtime all the way through. The score was never more than 2 goals apart, and there was a tie in every chukka except the fourth.
Throw-in wins were a factor throughout. Twelve Oaks came out of the gate in good stead in that regard, winning all four throw-ins in the first chukka to put Park Place in a defensive position more often. That didn’t last long, however. Park Place won 8 of the next 10 throw-ins and took full advantage of those extra possessions. In the crucial third chukka Park Place controlled play, making 3 goals to only 1 for their opponent.
All in all it was Chris Mackenzie’s day, an eventuality that became obvious well before he received the MVP award from HM The Queen. Aboard some nimble horses—particularly “Crystal,” his fifth-chukka mount and BPP—the South African 5-goaler was game high-scorer with 5 goals. He materialized wherever Park Place needed him to be and shot with stunning accuracy, putting the ball through the goal on 5 of 6 attempts from the field (83% shooting average). Tight coordination with teammate Juan Britos, who scored 3 times on the day, made for a powerful combo.
Twelve Oaks had their moments in the second half. After a field goal by Charlie Wooldridge, all four players combined on what looked to be another goal in the making, but the ball went just inches wide on a straight-as-an-arrow back shot by Ollie Cudmore. A Cudmore-to Wooldridge pass in the final chukka tightened the gap to 1, followed by a long-distance run to goal by teammate Chris Hyde. In the play of the day Hyde blasted past everyone, looking like he was playing polo with himself all the way and tying the game at 7. Mackenzie sealed the deal for Park Place, giving them an 8-7 victory.
It was wonderful to see the Queen and Prince Phillip, himself an avid polo player in his day, in attendance on Sunday enjoying the spectacle that Park Place and Twelve Oaks brought to the field, rounding off an exciting week of equestrian sport in the area after five days of Royal Ascot.
All Photography by Images of Polo