The future is here
Two years ago, El Remanso wrote polo history by conquering the Gold Cup for the British open with an all-English team, something that had not happened for 49 years. James Harper, Ollie Cudmore, Charlie Hanbury, and James Beim still count as the best of English polo, even though they are not playing together anymore. Meanwhile, a whole new generation of young players is emerging.
In the 2020 high-goal season, four youngsters are demonstrating that English polo's future looks encouraging. Ned Hine, Will Harper, Zac Beim, and Luke Wiles, the English teenagers participating in the Gold Cup for the British Open at Cowdray Park Polo Club and the Queen’s Cup at Guards Polo Club, are proof of this.
Will Harper, 18 years old and handicappes at 3-goals, is the son of James Harper. In his debut in the high-goal season, he played as back (like his father), for Park Place Vaara in the Gold Cup and now has moved to Park Place, where he is replacing Kian Hall. His former team is missing him, as after reaching the semifinals at Cowdray they have recorded three losses at in the Queen’s Cup at Guards.
Who does remain in Park Place Vaara is Zac Beim, who plays at the number one position. He is 17 years old, has a 1-goal handicap, and is the son of Tom Beim and nephew of James Beim. He first played high-goal polo when only 15 years of age, when he temporarily replaced patron Jean-François Decaux in La Bamba de Areco.
When it comes to the Hine family, Millie might be the most victorious of the kids, as she has conquered the British Ladies Open and Argentine Open last year. However, her younger brother Ned is looking forward to following her lead as, only 17 years of age, he shines in the surprisingly succesful Thai Polo NW team. There he gets to play with experienced English stars Jack Richardson and Tommy Beresford, as well as Argentine Michel del Carril. Ned, who plays with a handicap of 3-goals, has reached the quarterfinals at Cowdray and has high hopes to repeat at Guards. Not too far fetched, as Thai Polo already has two wins in three outings. Father Andrew Hine, former winner of the Gold Cup (1983), two-time winner of the Queen’s Cup (1989, 1990) and former member of the English side, can be proud.
Finally, the last 17-year-old representing England in the Queen’s Cup is Luke Wiles. In 2017, he was the first English player to win the Copa Potrillos, in the legendary shirt of Indios Chapaleufu II, alongside Cruz Heguy (son of Eduardo “Ruso” Heguy), as well as Antonio and Silvestre Heguy (the twins of Alberto “Pepe” Heguy). This English season, Luke plays as number one for Segavas, a team that did not participate in the Gold Cup but is now competing in the Queen’s Cup. There the young Luke finds himself doing his best on the field for English legend Luke Tomlinson, New Zealand’s best John Paul Clarkin, and Argentine Joaquín Pittaluga. The team had a tough start as they faced the Pieres brothers of Park Place in their opening match and in their second outing faced the Cambiasos of Next Generation, losing both games by a small margin.
Thai Polo joins the top teams
Next Generation, Les Lions/Great Oaks, Park Place. As expected, these top teams are in the lead after the first week of action in the Queen’s Cup. Building on what they have achieved at the Gold Cup, Thai Polo NW aims to join the three powerhouses. A big push will be needed for Thai Polo NW With, as with a 2-1 record and one game left in the qualification rounds, the competition is heading for the quarterfinals. Thai Polo NW, featuring Englishmen Ned Hine (3), Jack Richardson (6), and Tommy Beresford (6), together with Argentine Michel del Carril (6), was a surprise among quarterfinalists in the Gold Cup. There they lost to Les Lions/Great Oaks. At Guards Polo Club, Thai Polo has beaten defending champions Scone in their debut game and also Gold Cup semifinalist Park Place Vaara. Remarkably, they only lost by one goal (13-12) from the Castagnolas, as Santiago Laborde scored in the dying seconds.
Pic: @millyhine Next Sunday they will play against MT Vikings, hoping for another playoff appearance. So far, the favorites have been cruising, as Prince of Wales Trophy winners Park Place, Gold Cup champions Next Generation, and two-time finalist Les Lions/Great Oaks remain unbeaten. Andrey Borodin’s Park Place, featuring the Pieres brothers, is the only team with a 3-0 record, while the Cambiasos of Next Generation and the Castagnolas of Les Lions are 2-0. A big showdown is expected for next Tuesday, when Next Generation will play against Park Place. Last time the two sides met during the Gold Cup, the Pieres won by one goal, but the Cambiasos went on to win the tournament. It is a match-up that promises fireworks.