Valiente Claims C.V. Whitney Cup In A Clash Of The Cambiasos

2024 C.V. Whitney Cup Champions Valiente (Adolfo Cambiaso, Peke Gonzalez, Paco de Narvaez Jr., Jesse Bray and Bob Jornayvaz) presented by Whitney Miller Douglass and Royal Douglass III. © David Lominska

Concluding the first leg in the Gauntlet of Polo, Valiente (Bob Jornayvaz, Jesse Bray, Paco de Narvaez Jr. and Adolfo Cambiaso) went head-to-head against La Dolfina (Dillon Bacon, Quinn Evans, Poroto Cambiaso and Tomas Panelo) on Sunday, Feb. 25, in a familial battle for the C.V. Whitney Cup.

Delighting spectators on U.S. Polo Assn. Field One at the National Polo Center in Wellington, the contest saw Valiente defend the title against newcomer La Dolfina.

Featuring a highly anticipated clash between father and son Adolfo and Poroto Cambiaso, Valiente took the early edge to earn a narrow 6-4 lead at the break. Returning the pressure in the fifth, back-to-back efforts from Panelo kick-started a comeback bid that allowed La Dolfina to overtake their competitors in the sixth.

Undeterred by the sudden pressure, the physicality and mental resolve of Adolfo Cambiaso was on full display, as the veteran found the posts twice in the final moments to deliver Valiente its sixth C.V. Whitney Cup championship and $50,000.

Competing together in the Gauntlet of Polo until 2023, this year marks the second season that the prominent Cambiaso duo has been on opposing teams, and the first time they met in a high-goal final. Each donning their signature Argentine flag helmets, the 10-goalers contain the unmistakable talent and competitive drive to lead any team to the podium. Despite the gap in age and experience, Adolfo’s mastery as a facilitator and Poroto’s offensive command continue to set them apart from the competition.

For Adolfo, playing against his son and La Dolfina presents a unique challenge, “The truth is that yes, it is very uncomfortable,” he said. “But at the same time, being in the final against them is a joy for the Valiente and La Dolfina organizations.”

Sharing the experience of competing against the younger Cambiaso, Jornayvaz added, “Poroto is playing unbelievable right now. You’ve got to focus on trying to shut him down sooner than later. Once he gets that one step, he’s gone.”

Entering the final with a tournament-leading eight goals per game, Poroto Cambiaso broke away from the first throw-in to quickly put La Dolfina on the scoreboard. Following La Dolfina’s initial strike, Valiente managed to stifle the efforts of their opponents for the remainder of the half, containing La Dolfina to just three conversions before the horn. Settling into an offensive rhythm, Valiente relied on the efforts of de Narvaez Jr. and Adolfo Cambiaso to take a 6-4 advantage.

Recalibrating in the break, Evans opened the second half to score La Dolfina’s first field goal since the opening minute of play. Responding for Valiente, Adolfo Cambiaso earned his first field goal to keep the two teams even in the chukker. Working in tandem, Panelo and Poroto Cambiaso kick-started a crucial fifth chukker that included back-to-back goals from Panelo to tie the contest 8-8. Following the three-goal run, Bray sent the ball through the posts to temporarily halt La Dolfina’s surging response and swing the momentum back in Valiente’s favor.

Answering rapidly from the field to start the sixth, Panelo put another two field goals through the posts to pull his team ahead 10-9. Grinding and driving in the latter stages of the sixth, a hard-fought goal from Adolfo Cambiaso in traffic was complemented by a Penalty 3 from de Narvaez Jr. to vault Valiente back on top. Thwarting last-second attempts from La Dolfina to force overtime, Adolfo Cambiaso broke away once more from the pack to send one final goal across the line and seal Valiente’s victory, 12-10.

Earning Valiente’s sixth C.V. Whitney Cup championship, Jornayvaz summarized the importance of veteran grit in the finale. “I think this is one of those days where experience kind of beat out over youth. We changed things around, we had a strategy. We had a plan A, B and C, that’s just how Adolfo thinks,” he said.

Adolfo Cambiaso was named Most Valuable Player. Best Playing Pony presented by Palm Beach Equine was awarded to Dolfina Carola, a 7-year-old mare played by Adolfo Cambiaso in the fifth chukker and owned by La Dolfina.

In partnership with USPA Global Licensing, both finalists selected a charity of their choice to receive a $2,500 donation — La Dolfina contributing to the Retired Racehorse Project and Valiente selecting the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame.

When asked if it is more enjoyable winning together or against his son, Adolfo Cambiaso, ever the competitor answered, “With Poroto, without Poroto, I enjoy winning… [it’s in] my DNA to try to win.”

Valiente will now set their sights on becoming the second team in history to capture the prestigious Gauntlet of Polo, continuing with the USPA Gold Cup, which began on Feb. 28.