For the sixth year running the Al Habtoor Group sponsored the Al Habtoor Royal Windsor Cup – one of the main features of the English polo calendar. The title-decider was a hard-fought affair. Joanna Andrews brings you some of the highlights…
Khalaf Al Habtoor, Chairman of the Al Habtoor Group, recently hosted the prestigious Al Habtoor Royal Windsor Cup. It’s an extravagant affair full of traditional British pomp and pageantry. The much-sought after trophy is historically presented by HM Queen Elizabeth II alongside the Al Habtoor Group Chairman.
The UK’s leading 15-goal tournament is played at Guards Polo Club – and continues to attract some of the top polo players. As is traditional with polo, the Al Habtoor Royal Windsor Cup was full of fashion and flair as the polo elite put on their ‘Sunday best’ to watch the event, which comes fresh on the heels of Royal Ascot (one of the best-known horse racing events in the world).
The spectators were on the edge of their seats in the final of the Al Habtoor Royal Windsor Cup, the UK's highest medium goal competition, as the Rothermere family’s Ferne Park went on to claim the prestigious title in a nailbiting match.
Ferne Park, headed Argentina’s Joaquín Pittaluga, took a narrow 9-8 victory against Kassem Shafi’s Shalimar. Ferne Park was on form from the first throwin of the ball. It was in the lead after the first chukka and never relinquished that position. Shalimar closed the gap to just one goal by the end of the fifth. However this surge was too late to ensure extra time and Shalimar had to settle for the runners-up slot.
Ferne Park’s Vere Harmsworth was playing in place of his father Jonathan in this final and so it was this Eton schoolboy who received the trophy from HM The Queen and Mr Al Habtoor.
Vere’s team-mate Joaquin Pittaluga was named Al Habtoor Most Valuable Player. Another Ferne Park player, Dirk Gould, returned to the presentation arena to receive the Al Habtoor Best Playing Pony Rug for his favourite pony Jesus, an eight-year-old bay gelding.
Polo action had started much earlier in the day when several members of the Al Habtoor family, keen polo players, took to the field to compete in the Habtoor Challenge Match. Mohammed Al Habtoor’s 'Habtoor 1' (rec ½) got the better of his brother Rashid’s 'Habtoor 2' team, winning the match 5 ½-3. The other match of the day was the Al Habtoor Royal Windsor Cup Subsidiary Final. The winning team, Momin Sheikh’s Newlands of Stow received the Mountbatten Trophy after defeating Karan Thapar’s EFG Bank Arravali 8-6 in another close game on The Duke’s Ground.
In addition to supporting the polo, this year Khalaf Al Habtoor hosted the UK launch of his autobiography 'Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor The Autobiography'. Literary editors and Mr Al Habtoor’s guests enjoyed a reception in the Duke’s Pavilion at Guards Polo Club before taking their seats to watch the polo. More details to follow in Issue 113 of Al Shindagah.