The apex of the Gauntlet of Polo season, the U.S. Open Polo Championship, is now underway at the National Polo Center-Wellington.
The draw took place Thursday, March 23 to determine the brackets, and play got underway Tuesday, March 28. Three rounds of bracket play will continue until Tuesday, April 11, followed by the quarterfinals and semifinals before the U.S. Open Final on Sunday, April 23 at 3 p.m.
The most prestigious polo tournament in the United States, the U.S. Open was first played in 1904. In 2004, exactly 100 years after the tournament’s inception, the U.S. Open relocated to Wellington, where it has been held ever since.
The 2023 U.S. Open Polo Championship will field the same 12 teams that competed in both the C.V. Whitney Cup and the USPA Gold Cup, as well as one additional team, Palm Beach Equine, that will compete exclusively in this leg of the gauntlet.
The 10-goalers competing this year are all highly decorated, especially in this elite competition. The group includes nine-time U.S. Open Polo Championship winner Adolfo Cambiaso, six-time U.S. Open champion Facundo Pieres and three-time title holder Hilario Ulloa.
Joining Aspen, Mariano Gonzalez will replace Nicolas “Nico” Saenz for the last leg of the Gauntlet. Stoking the flames of familial rivalry, he will compete against his son, Mariano “Peke” Gonzalez, who has been competing with 2023 C.V. Whitney Cup champions Valiente. Relying on familial strength, Aspen’s Francisco Bensadon and Rufino Bensadon look to work together to achieve greatness. In a similar vein, the father-son Cambiaso duo will clash once again, as Valiente and Scone each have made a strong impression in the first two legs of the competition.
The addition of Palm Beach Equine will also see Scott Swerdlin, Raul “Gringo” Colombres and Christian “Magoo” Laprida make their 2023 gauntlet debut.
Raising the stakes, the winner of the U.S. Open Polo Championship will receive $100,000 in prize money. Once again, in partnership with USPA Global Licensing, each of the teams will select a charity of their choice from 10 polo nonprofits, and both charities of the winner and runner-up will receive a $2,500 donation.
The list of participating teams in their newly announced tournament brackets are:
1. Aspen (22) — Francisco “Pancho” Bensadon (7), Mariano Gonzalez (5), Rufino Bensadon (8) and Stewart Armstrong (2).
2. Two Trees By Jefferies (21) — Juan Sánchez Elia (5), Mariano Aguerre (7), Miguel Novillo Astrada (8) and Will Johnston (1).
3. Park Place (22) — Hilario Ulloa (10), Juan Britos (9), Andrey Borodin (0) and Jason Wates (3).
4. La Elina (22) — Jared Zenni (6), Jeff Hall (6), Matt Coppola (5) and Nicolas “Nico” Escobar (5).
5. Dazos (21) — David Farache (0), Dylan Rossiter (6), Nicolas “Nico” Pieres (9) and Santiago “Santi” Torres (6).
6. Pilot (22) — Curtis Pilot (0), Facundo Pieres (10), Matias Gonzalez (4) and Matias Torres Zavaleta (8).
7. Shack Attack — Santiago Toccalino (8) and Santino Magrini (4) with two players to be announced.
8. La Fe (22) — Francisco Elizalde (9), Louis Devaleix (1), Lucas Diaz Alberdi (6) and Roberto “Robi” Bilbao (6).
9. Dutta Corp/Show+ (22) — Joaquin Avendaño (4), Mariano “Nino” Obregon (6), Timmy Dutta (4) and Tomas Garcia del Rio (8).
10. Valiente (22) — Adolfo Cambiaso (10), Bob Jornayvaz (0), Lucas “Luckitas” Criado Jr. (6) and Mariano “Peke” Gonzalez (6).
11. Scone (22) — Cody Ellis (4), David “Pelon” Stirling (9), David Paradice (0) and Poroto Cambiaso (9).
12. Palm Beach Equine — Scott Swerdlin (0), Raul “Gringo” Colombres (8), Christian ‘Magoo’ Laprida (8) and a player to be announced.
13. Tamera (22) — Alejandro Poma (1), Diego Cavanagh (9), Pedro “Pedrinho” Zacharias (7) and Segundo Saravi (5).
There will be a minimum of three games played per team for a total of 25 games in the tournament.
Following the first round, all teams will be ranked on win-loss, then net goals, then gross goals. The top three ranked teams will advance straight to the quarterfinals.
Teams ranked 4 through 13 will play a third game and will draw their opponent. Following the completion of the third game, the top five teams based on win-loss, then net goals, then gross goals will fill the remaining five quarterfinal spots.
All Sunday featured games will be held on NPC’s U.S. Polo Assn. Field One.
Spectating from the NPC stadium, private boxes, fieldside tailgates and special hospitality tents all overlooking U.S. Polo Assn. Field One is an unparalleled experience available for Sunday matches throughout the Gauntlet of Polo series.
Tickets can be purchased at www.nationalpolocenter.com.