The US Open Polo Championship Final
The US Open Polo Championship was held this past Sunday the 19th at the International Polo Club in Palm Beach, a highly anticipated day for polo fans everywhere being the last tournament of the US Triple Crown. For more info on the US Open check out my last post here and more about the sport of polo here. I had watched the 16 matches leading up to the finals on Chukker.TV from Bahrain and from Denmark, but I was lucky enough to go to the finals in person and it was a fabulous day.
We arrived a little later than I wanted to due to traffic, but were excited to be there and quickly found the brunch area and our seating arrangements. I was with my friend, who came with me from Denmark and my family. The brunch was amazing, so many different stations with lavish gourmet food. The drinks were flowing and the champagne was crisp and bubbly, the only downside was that the view of the polo field was blocked a little by the guests sitting at the table in front of us, but I managed to wiggle my way around to get a good look at what was going on.
The final match kicked off with a procession of the teams followed by the National anthem and then it was game on. Orchard Hill took the lead with Facundo Pieres opening up the scoreboard with only 30 seconds on the clock and they kept the lead for the first half of the match.
The fourth chukker was the first time Valiente had the lead with 7-5 on the scoreboard. The second half was an exciting battle, as it could go either way, once Polito Pieres had evened out the score for Orchard Hill and then sneaked another goal in to put them in the lead, both teams had their defense on point and no goals were scored for about 3 minutes, then Facundo showed us what his 10-goaler arm and aim can do and scored a goal from 130-yards away putting them in a 9-7 lead. But within the last 2 minutes Valiente managed to put 4 goals through making the final score 11-9 in favor of Valiente and they took home the trophy and the honor of calling themselves the winners of the 111th US Open Polo Championship.
Obviously the third time did the charm for Valiente, who had played the final of the US Open in 2014 and 2013, but were defeated by respectively Alegría and Zacara. And this was no easy challenge either, Orchard Hill had run up an impressive 13 wins and only 2 losses in the 26-goal Triple Crown tournaments, taking home the C.V. Whitney Cup trophy and only facing their first loss of the season in the final of the Piaget Gold cup, whereas Valiente had a 6-6 record of wins and losses (numerous of them being defeated by Orchard Hill) and several injuries to deal with. In the first match of the US Open Adolfo Cambiaso had an injury to his groin muscle and had to be replaced by Sapo Caset, another great 10-goal Argentinian polo player. The team patron Bob Jornayvaz also had a fall and left the field being replaced with Tom Beresford for a bit, but both players came back strong for the final and they delivered with some impressive polo skills and could finally call themselves the winners of the US Open.
Aside from the great match, I had a few other fun things going on and met up with some really cool people, who I had connected with through my blog and social media. The first one was the very talented polo photographer Sheryel Aschfort, I have for some time followed her page on Facebook: The Polo Paparazzi and her website and I really admire her work and have used a few of her pictures in the past, so it was great to meet her in person and she took some lovely pictures of me.
I met a new friend of mine Mariano Tribelhorn, who has the blog Daily-Dandy, which I stumbled across a few weeks ago and we have kept in contact since then. We have a few things in common and the most important Is that we both love polo, check out his blog, he has some inspiring posts about being a true gentleman and appreciating the finer things in life.
One group of people I was really looking forward to meeting was the Chukker.TV team. As I mentioned before I have watched every single match of the US Open on Chukker.TV I watched it everywhere; on my computer in my living room, my iPad whilst on the treadmill at the gym (which was especially entertaining for others at the gym as I would loudly express my feelings towards the match, completely forgetting where I was) and even had it on my phone while driving back from riding lessons (my friend was the one behind the wheel, not me). I was tweeting about the matches and having so much fun interacting online with polo commentator Toby Wayman and sometimes his co-commentator Juan Bollini. It was really great to meet them in person, along with the rest of the team supporting the great work they do. At the end of the match Mike, the executive producer of Chukker.TV, invited me to go see the Chukker.TV mobile office. It was so cool to see the “behind the scenes” work that is done, so many screens and buttons, I felt like I was in a spaceship and Mike even let me push some buttons.
After the official prize giving ceremony was over the real excitement begun, the large group of people who are part of the Valiente team were chanting and jumping with joy and blowing horns and the many fans scrambling to get a photo with the great Adolfo Cambiaso. At the end of the chaotic celebrations it was time to cool down with drinks at the after party around the pool of the IPC clubhouse. Several entertainment acts were lined up, but what attracted the most attention was when the winners jumped in the pool. I guess they were the ones who really needed to cool off.
All in all a great day with friends, family, polo and a lot of excitement, I am a little sad it’s over, but I am already looking forward to next year!