In a world of polo dominated by the new and upcoming generation, Harper wins his second Gold Cup, this time with Thai Polo
Winning the Gold Cup once is quite difficult. Twice, much more so. Very few players have achieved it in recent years, and James Harper is now one of them. He won it in 2018 with El Remanso, playing alongside Charlie Hanbury, Ollie Cudmore and James Beim in the very renowned all-English team.
This time he won playing for Thai Polo in what was an amazing final against UAE. Harper, plus brothers Louis and Ned Hine and Nico Pieres, took an early lead and never looked back to win 9-7, becoming the champions of one of the most competitive and difficult Gold Cups in history.
"We knew that we had a great team with the Hine brothers and Nico, but you never know how good your chances truly are. It was a pleasure playing for Thai, we played great 4-man polo"
-What does this title mean to you?
"After the changes Scone had, there was a chance we couldn't have played the High Goal, but David Paradice kept his word and we found another team. The Hine brothers have a huge future ahead of them, and they come from a great family, and playing with Nico is always great. It is amazing to play and win tournaments with him"
-What did you think of the season?
"It turned out amazing. Not only did we show that there are great English players, but also not one team won all of their games, they all lost at least one game at some point, so that's a pretty good season, I hope it's the same again next year."
-How was it to win with two kids who are around the same age as your son?
"I am quite close to the Hine brothers, though I'm closer to Ned as my son Wills played with him in the Pony club."
-What do you think of English polo after the HPA's changes?
"English polo seems strong, it has potential. The level is higher than ever before and we might start seeing more English players getting involved at the top level too."
-Let's talk about the final, how was the game?
"We started really strong in the first chukker and that went on until the third. I think that during the fourth they had half a chukker where they were in control, but we played well as a team, we moved the ball around, and in these conditions it was a lot easier for us. Nico played really well, it was a ton of fun."
-Thai Polo seemed to be quicker than UAE...
"On days like these, it's a massive thing having a team that plays 4-man polo without the patron, you just hit the ball, you just move the ball and play more like you do in Argentina, it's not easy but I wish we could play like that all the time."
-What is the rest of your year going to be like?
"I've got one more week to finish the 15-18 goal here, then I'm heading to Ellerston in Australia to get stuck into the breeding and making young horses there, and getting involved there, as long as I can get in. If I can't get into Australia, I will go to Argentina."
"It is so good to win such an important tournament with the Hines when they are just starting their careers"