Following their C.V. Whitney Cup victory last weekend against Colorado, Valiente never lost focus and found themselves in an identical final on Sunday, March 11, at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida. Poised to capture their second 26-goal tournament title, Valiente delivered in the second half to claim the Butler Handicap Final 11-8.
Play started off evenly in the first as both teams traded goals at a rapid pace. Despite the fluidity of smart plays between Adolfo Cambiaso and Facundo Pieres, Magoo Laprida and Diego Cavanagh showed no signs of intimidation and pursued them confidently on the field to score. “Our energy is good and we are having fun,” said Cavanagh. “We enjoy being together not only on the field, but also in the barn, having mate, just being all together; we are having a great season.” Colorado’s one-goal lead due to handicap diminished early in the second chukker as Cambiaso outwitted defenders twice to tie the game 4-all. Striking hard offensively, Laprida out maneuvered his opponents in the next throw-in and picked up his second consecutive field goal. Leaving Valiente scoreless in the third, Colorado retained the lead after Diego Cavanagh hit a beautiful pass to Juan Britos ending the half 6-4.
A blocking call against Colorado resulted in the first penalty conversion of the game, Pieres expertly sinking the Penalty 2. Unleashing a wave of powerful plays on Colorado with laser-like precision, Pieres proceeded to accumulate four additional unanswered goals by the end of the fifth chukker. Utilizing Cambiaso and Tommy Beresford as strong defenders, Valiente focused on blocking Colorado’s attempts to gain possession which allowed Pieres free reign on the field.
Headed into the final chukker 9-6 in favor of Valiente, Colorado had yet to score since the first half. Capitalizing on a Penalty 2 opportunity, Cavanagh converted the goal, his second of the game. Creating space for himself to position the ball, Cambiaso worked down the field and hit a massive shot just to the inside of Colorado’s goal posts. Playing full out until the final horn sounded, Laprida skillfully edged out Cambiaso for the final goal, but the tournament went to Valiente 11-8.
Rob Jornayvaz* had nothing but great things to say as he stood next to his team following the game. “I think we did a really good job on defense, this was probably one of the toughest games this team has had to play. I feel really good about how we are going into the next tournament, everybody is having fun and played amazing.”
Contributing five of Valiente’s 11 goals, Adolfo Cambiaso was named Most Valuable Player. Best Playing Pony honors were presented to Tanita, an American Thoroughbred owned by J5 Equestrian and played by Cambiaso in the fifth chukker.
Following the trophy presentation, Bob Jornayvaz was happy to share his thoughts on the game. “We are all getting to play and practice together now and it makes such a huge difference. Same with Colorado, Rob’s team finally got to play together, and I think Juan just played really well. It’s just fun, with Adolfo and Facundo, watching those two guys together is amazing. We are doing what we are supposed to in polo and that is have fun. We had some wide-open polo and a couple of chukkers with no penalties which is great. The horses were flat out, and I hope it was a good game to watch, because it was a great one to play in.”
The USPA Polo Network will livestream the USPA Gold Cup®, the second leg of the triple crown of polo, beginning on Saturday, March 17, at 1:00pm ET as well as the 20-goal Carlos Gracida Cup at 10:00am ET from the International Polo Club Palm Beach.