The 2004 Coronation Cup was one of the most outstanding milestones in the history of Chilean polo. Not only because it was the second time Chile had won the trophy, but that win over England was memorable. It was a 10-8 victory, with a great performance by the late Gabriel Donoso, considered the best national player of all time. The team was also made up of José Donoso, Jaime García-Huidobro and Alejandro Vial. It is precisely the latter who remembers from the United States to Sporting that memorable performance and his personal encounter with Queen Elizabeth II.
“The Coronation Cup is played every year for the Queen’s coronation and most of the time she is the one who gives the prize and, if not, it is someone from royalty. In 2004, when I was lucky enough to join the national team, we went and won. Chile have gone a couple of times before and won too, so they were a great competitor for England.”, he points out.
Precisely Tano, as he is popularly known, was one of the stars of the match, facing players who doubled his handicap (he had four goals). “At that time I played with Gabriel Donoso, who was the best player in Chile. Therefore, it was a tremendous experience for me, being the youngest in the team and one of my first polo outings, the most competitive and professional”comment.
Regarding the match, the national team overcame the atmosphere that existed at the Guards Club, in Windsor Park. “That day there was nervousness, having the Queen looking at you is something that never happens; that I present the award, shake her hand, greet her and bow to her were like protocols that I didn’t know if they were bothering me or not. But, well, I did everything to not look bad. The truth is that it was a tremendous experience, being in England for a full week of preparation and That it ends with victory that year and that the queen gives you the cup is a great merit. So there is a good photo put in the living room of the house”Vial confesses.
On the delivery of the award, Vial narrates that the deceased monarch was very affable. “I had no more luck than sharing the minutes of the award ceremony with her. There she was very nice, close and friendly; with a very friendly face and always with a smile. There were people who knew her better because they had been with her in other places and you could talk with her, you could laugh with her. something spoke”, He says. And he adds: “Personally I didn’t know her, it was the first time, so obviously I greeted her, but she was very nice, He called you by your name and was very friendly. More than that, I did not share with her, except for the moments of the award ceremony, where she was very imposing and admired by everyone.
As a curiosity, Prince Harry played the preliminary match, representing the Wales team.
Gabriel Donoso took all the awards in that extraordinary triumph in 2004, where he was chosen as the best of the match. He also made history in 1998, when for the first time a foreign team beat England at home. The athlete was the best Chilean polo player of all time and was frequently invited to play with royalty, especially with Prince Carlos, who from now on will be King Carlos III.
“We have been running into him (Prince Charles) here and elsewhere for a long time. When I see him, he laughs with me, because I have a very normal way of treating him. He asks to play with me, because he is entertained and laughs ”Donoso highlighted, in an interview, about his close relationship with the new British monarch.
There is even an anecdote that some years ago he related to Third Margie Brett, the editor of the Polo Times specialized media. In it he says that The Chilean was more than an hour late for a match with the Prince, because he took a nap to recover after having been at a party the night before. Embarrassed, he arrived at the court and was surprised to see that the prince made no qualms about his absence. In fact, Carlos asked not to start the game until Donoso was ready to ride.counted.
In fact, in that same 2004, he played with Carlos and his children the Sandhurst Charity Cup. In 2006, Gabriel Donoso Rosselot died after falling off a horse during training in Argentina. He was 46 years old and left an enormous legacy in the history of Chilean polo. Even an award bears his name and in the Coronation Cup edition of 2007, an emotional tribute was made to his figure.