Outback Challenge Benefits Polo Players Support Group

In polo’s version of the All-Star Game, many of the world’s best players got together and put on a fantastic show on the field and at the post-event VIP dinner for the annual Outback 40-Goal Challenge presented by Nespresso on Saturday, Feb. 16 at the International Polo Club Palm Beach.

Gonzalito Pieres scored four goals, including a rare 2-pointer, to lead Equus & Co. over EFG Bank 7-3 in the annual event, the ninth time it has been held at IPC.

The all-star exhibition game featured seven of the world’s eight 10-goalers. Ten-goaler Juan Martin Nero missed the game because he is still recovering from elbow surgery in December. He was replaced by 9-goaler Julio Arellano, who grew up in Wellington and is currently the highest-rated American player.

Pieres’ 90-yard forehand early in the fourth chukker earned him the Grey Goose Long Shot of the Game Award. Two points were awarded for goals longer than 80 yards. Grey Goose designed a specialty drink for the occasion and had the Grey Goose Girls handing out free samples throughout the match.

Facundo Pieres, Pelon Stirling and Miguel Novillo Astrada each scored one goal for Equus & Co. Adolfo Cambiaso, Pablo MacDonough and Arellano scored one goal apiece for EFG Bank.

The game also marked the return of Sapo Caset, who was playing in his first game in the U.S. after being hospitalized in Argentina with a serious staph infection last April. Caset spent six days in a medically induced coma but fully recovered and began playing in mid-September.

Malaquita, ridden by Facundo Pieres, received the Best Playing Pony Award, sponsored by Aon.

After the game, a sold-out VIP dinner courtesy of Tim Gannon and Outback Steakhouse was held in the Pavilion with a who’s who of players, patrons and fans attending the largest post-event affair in the history of the 40-Goal Challenge.

Nespresso offered a variety of specialty coffees at the invitation-only post-event dinner.

Proceeds from the gate, the VIP dinner, and silent and live auctions benefit the Polo Players Support Group Inc., a nonprofit created to provide financial assistance to seriously injured or ill polo players or grooms. So far, the Polo Players Support Group has provided more than $1.5 million to 45 seriously injured or ill players and grooms.

The top live auction items were Cambiaso’s autographed jersey, which sold for $25,000, a VIP package for the Breeder’s Cup for four people, which went for $12,000, a duck hunt at world-renowned Belleau Farm, which sold for $9,000, and a week in Argentina playing polo with Mariano Aguerre, which went for $8,000.

Sponsors for the event included Outback, Nespresso, EFG Bank, Equus & Co., Tri-Global Financial, Aon, Grey Goose, Catena Watches, Kendall Jackson, Brown Distributing Co., La Martina, Lady Walton’s Gourmet Cookies, the Tackeria, Alex Photography, Lucchese, Los Machitos Polo, the Morning Line, Polographics.com, La Casa Hermosa, Audi, Palm Beach Polo, Siddha Sites and OrganizeThis.