Uniting eight of polo’s most famous international 10-goal players, the Lucchese® 40-Goal Polo Challenge proved no challenge for Airstream, remaining on top the entire game and doubling their opponents Pilot Catastrophe Services score to win 14-7. The exhibition game, held annually at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida, is the marquee fundraising event to benefit the Polo Players Support Group (PPSG), a non-profit organization to financially help injured and ill members of the polo community.
Prior to the start of the 40-Goal, several children sporting their parents’ recognizable last names including Mia Novillo Astrada and Poroto Cambiaso participated in the Future 10s two chukker game. Grand Champions Polo Club ultimately overtook U.S. Polo Assn. 4-2.
Within the first minute of the first chukker Airstream had the first goal of the game courtesy of Nico Pieres who fired a big backshot to move the ball swiftly towards goal. Playing with the two point shot from the 60 yard line in this game, Sebastian Merlos was the first to take advantage of the extra point, a tactic his fellow teammates would later capitalize on to accelerate their lead and cement victory. Airstream maintained a slight one goal advantage 5-4 headed into the half after Caset executed a beautiful pass to Adolfo Cambiaso who took the ball to goal with lightning agility, leaving 1.5 seconds remaining in the third chukker.
Two consecutive two point goals by Cambiaso moved Airstream far ahead by the beginning of the fifth, but Hilario Ulloa fired back with two back to back goals of his own to keep Pilot afloat. Caset and Cambiaso responded with a couple of goals to increase their comfortable lead to 11-6 headed into the final chukker. The sixth opened with Cambiaso’s fifth goal of the game, now doubling the scoreboard. Although many attempts had been made to secure a two point shot, Pilot’s efforts went in vain as the ball repeatedly flew wide of the goal posts. Ulloa, Pilot’s lone scorer except for one early pony goal, nailed his sixth successful effort to bring the team’s final tally to seven.
Before the final horn sounded, Nico Pieres got in one last two point goal, a stunning shot which earned him the Tito’s Handmade Vodka Long Shot of the Day vote. Playing in his first Lucchese 40-Goal event, Pieres was happy to participate for a worthy cause. “It was good fun and always a pleasure to play polo with these amazing players,” Nico Pieres commented. “It’s good to be a part of it.”
Airstream claimed their impressive victory 14-7, but competing to bring awareness to the mission of PPSG made even defeat worthwhile. “For me it’s great to have the opportunity to help PPSG and put on a good game,” Pilot’s Miguel Novillo Astrada said. “I think it was also a great game to watch so it was good for everyone.”
Having been involved in the 40-Goal every year since 2012, Sapo Caset is committed to the greater purpose of this event. “Dave Offen is the one behind all of this and I think it’s a great idea to get all of the 10-goalers together to play a good exhibition match and help,” Caset explained. “This is all for charity and it’s great that we do this to help players, grooms and other people around polo if they had an injury. I feel good to be a part of it and we should continue being involved in this way.”
Best Playing Pony honors sponsored by Engel & Volkers were awarded to Lituana, owned and played by Hilario Ulloa.
All photos courtesy of David Lominska/Polographics.com