Fresh off their recent win in the Ylvisaker Cup, defending C.V. Whitney Cup champions Valiente kept the momentum going, landing Colorado in the final Sunday, March 4, at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida. Putting their new rosters to the test for the first 26-goal tournament of the season, both teams created fresh dynamics on the field, but Valiente rode away with their second consecutive tournament title 9-4.
Valiente’s unprecedented final featuring the two top 10-goalers in the world and rivals, Adolfo Cambiaso and Facundo Pieres, was a display of incredible skill and teamwork. Executing a beautiful 70-yard shot to goal quickly followed by a deep neckshot in the first chukker, Pieres unleashed a strong offensive force Colorado could not stop. Expertly setting up his forward, Adolfo Cambiaso worked the ball down field, leaving it for Rob Jornayvaz* who picked up the only goal of the second. As play progressed, Colorado experienced many missed opportunities throughout the game as players repeatedly were unable to connect and overrode, leaving the team scoreless in the first half. Taking full advantage of broken plays and costly mistakes, Cambiaso ended the half 5-0 in favor of Valiente.
Fighting to get his team in the game, Diego Cavanagh charged through the formidable blue jerseys to finally score two goals in the fourth effectively outscoring Valiente by one in the chukker. Cambiaso opened the fifth with a field goal, but was then answered by Cavanagh who hit a neckshot through traffic to goal. Completely in sync and dominating the field, Pieres and Cambiaso completed two additional plays to triple Colorado’s score 9-3 headed into the final chukker.
Valiente’s Facundo Pieres makes the hook on Magoo Laprida of Colorado during the C.V. Whitney Cup Final.
As precious minutes ticked by, the ball was passed back and forth across the field numerous times, finally crossing between Colorado’s goal posts and giving Magoo Laprida his first goal of the game. Despite a valiant effort in the last two chukkers, Colorado could not rival Valiente’s momentum. Valiente claimed their second consecutive 2018 C.V. Whitney Cup with a final score of 9-4. Reflecting on the tournament Tommy Beresford said, “The horses are getting fitter and I’m playing a little faster. It is becoming a bit easier as we are getting to know each other. We feel great and are looking forward to the next tournament.”
Most Valuable Player: Facundo Pieres, presented by George Dupont of the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame.
Responsible for five of Valiente’s nine goals, four from the field and one Penalty 3, Pieres was named Most Valuable Player. “Every game we are going to get a little bit better as a team,” Pieres said. “Today we were better with passing the ball between each other. Our last game was more difficult from the beginning and we had some pressure because it was our first together, but today was much better.” Best Playing Pony honors were awarded to Mentolada, owned by J5 Equestrian and ridden by Adolfo Cambiaso in the third chukker.
Best Playing Pony: Mentolada, played by Adolfo Cambiaso, owned by J5 Equestrian, pictured with Gustavo Gomez, Rob Jornayvaz and Juan Aneas. The award was presented by Brenda Lynn of the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame.
The USPA will continue to livestream both the Iglehart Cup and the Butler Handicap (the second 26-goal tournament) from the International Polo Club Palm Beach starting at 10:00am ET on Wednesday, March 7.
*Rob Jornayvaz and Santi Torres are members of Team USPA. Team USPA is a USPA program designed to enhance and grow the sport of polo in the United States by identifying young, talented American players and providing mentored training and playing opportunities leading to a pool of higher rated amateur and pro players and the resultant giveback to the sport of polo.