Valiente made up for an early season loss to Zacara and successfully defended its 2012 USPA Piaget Gold Cup title with a resounding 13-9 win Sunday afternoon at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington before thousands of enthusiastic spectators.
With three of the world’s eight 10-goal players on the field, fireworks were expected, and the crowd wasn’t disappointed. Valiente took the field with 10-goalers Pelon Stirling and Adolfo Cambiaso, while the Zacara attack was led by 10-goaler Facundo Pieres.
Pieres scored four first half goals, helping Zacara to a narrow 5-4 halftime lead. Santi Torres accounted for three of Valiente’s first half goals, but Valiente seemed to have the upper hand in the first three chukkers of play.
A regrouped Valiente team stormed the field in the fourth chukker, outscoring Zacara 5-0 and leaving the field at the end of the period with an impressive 9-5 advantage. Cambiaso scored four goals in the chukker, while Torres scored once. The momentum had shifted, and Valiente was making the most of it.
The two teams traded goals in the fifth with Pieres scoring twice while teammate Mike Azzaro added a single score for Zacara. Torres scored all three fifth chukker Valiente goals.
Cambiaso’s fifth goal of the game came just two minutes into the sixth chukker and had Valiente up13-8. Pieres scored the final goal of the game with less than three minutes left in regulation time, as Valiente ran off with the 13-9 win.
Torres scored seven goals on the day and was named MVP. Stirling’s 10-year-old brown mare, Silk, was selected as Best Playing Pony.
Earlier in the day, 10-goaler Sapo Caset led a resilient Piaget team back from a 5-3 halftime deficit to record a 9-8 win over ERG in the finals of the 26-goal Butler Handicap.
The game was tied at 1-1 after the first chukker and 3-3 after the second. ERG came up with a pair of unanswered goals in the third by Agustin Merlos, taking a 5-3 halftime lead.
Caset exploded for five goals in the fourth period and shot Piaget ahead by three goals, 8-5. ERG was unable to break through the Piaget defense and was shutout in the chukker.
ERG cut into the Piaget lead by a single goal in the fifth, and added two more goals in the final chukker, but a single goal from Piaget’s Nacho Badiola was enough to carry the day in the 9-8 Piaget victory.
Caset scored eight of Piaget’s nine goals and was named MVP. Caset’s Viparita was honored as Best Playing Pony.
The final leg of the American triple crown of polo, the Maserati U.S. Open, got underway this week. Opening matches were held Thursday. All tournament game times and field assignments can be obtained by calling IPC’s Polo Hotline at (561) 282-5290.
The high-goal polo action takes place every Sunday through April 21 at the International Polo Club. Ticket prices for Sunday polo range from $10 general admission to $120 box seating. Tickets for Sunday brunch at the Pavilion and its reception start at $55, upward to $330 for the Veuve Clicquot brunch package for two. Tickets can be purchased online at www.internationalpoloclub.com, or by calling (561) 204-5687. Find IPC on Facebook, follow on Twitter at @SundayPolo or visit www.ipcscoreboard.com for up-to-date scores, schedules, rosters and all other polo info.
Above: Valiente’s Pelon Stirling, Santi Torres, Bob Jornayvaz, Adolfo Cambiaso claim the USPA Piaget Gold Cup. PHOTOGRAPHY BY LILA PHOTO