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Friday, April 19, 2024

The Fifth Al Habtoor Royal Windsor Cup final proves the best yet

by Erin Mc Cafferty

Habtoor Al Habtoor in action
Man of the match Jack Richardson (R) beats Charlie Hanbury (L) to score
L-R: Jock Green-Armytage, Neil Hobday, HM Queen Elizabeth II, Khalaf Al Habtoor
Khalaf Al Habtoor introduces his grandchildren to the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip
HM Queen Elizabeth II presents Khalaf Al Habtoor with a gift
Khalaf Al Habtoor with his grandchildren Mohammed Al Qamzi and Maryam Al Habtoor
Teams Montana and Churchill (R) with the Queen and Khalaf Al Habtoor
The Al Habtoor Polo Team with the Queen and Khalaf Al Habtoor
Jock Green-Armytage (2nd L) admires the cup
(L-R) Rashid Al Habtoor, Guillermo Cuitino, Mohammed Al Habtoor
Mohammed Al Habtoor

This year’s Al Habtoor Royal Windsor Cup final proved to be the most successful yet and was characterised by great playing and an exciting atmosphere. Clarita Black walked away the trophy after a thrilling match against El Remanso/Loro Piano on the Queen’s Ground at Windsor.

This was the fifth year for the prestigious tournament which is sponsored annually by the Al Habtoor family and the attendance rate was higher than ever. All eyes were on Clarita Black from the start when they scored half a goal and it looked like they were going to win outright considering they were leading 51/2-1 after two chukkas. This was down to superb play by 'Man of the Match', Jack Richardson, who stepped in at the last minute after Ed Hitchman broke his foot earlier in the week.

However El Remanso/Loro Piano fought back bravely finding their feet in the third chukka, with Charlie Hanbury and Eduardo Heguy scoring three goals. This closed the score to 51/2-4 to Clarita at half-time.

Unfortunately neither team lived up to their earlier promise, with both sides fielding only two further goals each in the final two chukkas. This ensured Clarita Black won the competition by 15-goals, securing their first Royal Windsor Cup victory.

Chris Mathias, one of Guards Polo Club’s own patrons, stepped forward to receive The Al Habtoor Royal Windsor Cup from HM The Queen Elizabeth and Mr Khalaf Al Habtoor on the day. And he was even more delighted after being awarded the ‘Al Habtoor Best Playing Pony Rug’ from HM The Queen for Eleonora.

The day had started with an exhibition game featuring six members of the Al Habtoor family and it was a proud moment for Khalaf Al Habtoor as he watched two generations of his family compete. These included his son Mohammed Al Habtoor, who teamed up with his sons, Habtoor and Ahmed Mohammed, as well as sixgoal professional Guillermo Cuitino in Habtoor Polo. They defeated the Mahra Polo team 5-3. Mahra Polo featured Rashid Al Habtoor and his sons Tariq and Khalaf Rashid Al Habtoor as well as professional player Pepe Araya.

There was a third match on this day – the subsidiary final for the Mountbatten Trophy which was won by Tony Gerard’s Montana team after they defeated Spencer McCarthy’s Emlor S team 7–5.

The world-renowned horse whisperer Monty Roberts, representing the international Join Up Organisation, was a guest of honour in the Royal Box. Her Majesty is patron of the organisation and she presented certificates to several figures in the equine industry, including the Mexican polo stars Memo and Carlos Gracida.

The day concluded with a magnificent display from the British Driving Society Show, which took place on the neighbouring Windsor Park Equestrian Club ground.

Her Majesty was accompanied by HRH Prince Philip and together they awarded rosettes to the championship winners who had lined up in front of the Royal Box. It was a fitting finale to a truly wonderful day.

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