A Surprising US Open Polo Championship 2018 Final
Sunday, April 22nd, was a day many were looking forward to. The prediction was that team Valiente (Bob Jornayvaz, Tommy Beresford, Facundo Pieres and Adolfo Cambiaso) would also take home the third trophy in the American Triple Crown of 26-goal polo. Being the strongest team throughout the high goal season, with the two top players in the world (Cambiaso and Pieres) playing together in the blue jerseys, it was thought to be a sure win. (If you are new to polo, click here to open up the glossary in a new page)
But the foursome that made up the Daily Racing Form polo team (Agustin Obregon, Mariano Obregon, Hilario Ulloa and Jared Zenni) had their game on point, they went in with high hopes and great teamwork and that was what ultimately gave them the title of winners of the 2018 US Open Polo Championship.
The match started out quite even, Facu Pieres opened up the scoreboard and was closely followed by a goal from the talented Hilario Ulloa. From then on it was a close battle. As the thundering skies threatened another downpour, the thundering hooves on the field added to the excitement that filled the air. DRF polo team was ahead and the crowd started to realize that they might actually have a shot at taking the prestigious trophy home.
Due to the ominous clouds and anxiety to get the final polo match of the season wrapped up, IPC did not have their usual half-time champagne divot-stomp, which I was a bit disappointed about, but we still got pictures with the mascot, Chukker.
The second half of the match was intense, with DRF in the lead most of the time and Valiente only retaliating in the 5th chukker, where the teams were tied up. Tommy Beresford did an astonishing breakaway from the middle of the field and carried the ball all the way to goal. A backhand shot from one of the Valiente players, unfortunately, found it’s way straight into Hilario Ulloa’s face, which obviously shook up the 10-goal player, but after a few minutes and some quick staples, he was back on a horse and on fire. He later said “I couldn’t see much of what was going on in the fifth and sixth chukker, but the team played unbelievably today” and in an interview with PoloLine he said “I nearly lost my eye, but I feel amazing”
The final seconds of the match were the most nail-biting, as the teams were near the Valiente goal and those guys in blue were trying hard to get the ball to even out the score to go into an extra chukker. Everyone knows that if Facu or Cambiaso get the ball near the goal it will convert into a goal, but the boys in white held their defense and hooked left and right and just did everything in their power to keep that ball. The hooter blew and the match was over with a final score of 10-9 in favor of DRF and the crowd roared! The unimaginable had just happened, proving that in polo anything is possible. With hard work, a tight-knit team and giving it your all, even the new kids on the block can beat the formidable foursome of Valiente.
The trophy ceremony was lead by members of the US Polo Association, awarding the winning trophy along with the Best Playing Pony award to Mariano Obregon’s Millenaria and Most Valuable Player to the young Team USPA member Jared Zenni, who was still quite gobsmacked about the whole situation when I caught up with him later on.
Then the party was on at The Mallet Grille, which usually is a member’s only restaurant, but was open to the public and a scrumptious asado was set up for all to enjoy.
Now with the season wrapped up, trailers and rigs are seen leaving the little town of Wellington, Florida and set off to the many other polo locations in the USA. My next polo adventure will be Aiken, a historical polo town and important location in the history of US polo. Follow along, subscribe to my social media channels and to the newsletter.