Competed for by a single-elimination format the 2018 C.V. Whitney featured four teams with semifinal matches on Wednesday, February 28, and Thursday, March 1, at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida—the winner of each day’s game moving on to the final. In an unprecedented and history making first match, Valiente defeated The Daily Racing Form-DRF Bets 13-10. Colorado then met Grand Champions Polo Club in a close and aggressive semifinal, Colorado coming out on top with a narrow 14-13 victory. Having swapped their usual jerseys, yellow and blue respectively, father and son Bob and Rob Jornayvaz* will meet in the final this Sunday, March 4, at 3:00pm ET for the C.V. Whitney Cup.
THE BEST IN THE WORLD DELIVER
Valiente and The Daily Racing Form-DRF Bets (DRF) took to the field Wednesday, February 28, for the highly-anticipated C.V. Whitney Cup opener. Fans were eager to watch Valiente hot off their Ylvisaker Cup win enter the tournament with the two top-rated players in the world: Adolfo Cambiaso and Facundo Pieres.
Despite having two 10-goalers on their team, Valiente’s cumulative handicap of 25 goals afforded them one on the board at the onset of the game. A fairly even first half, Valiente gained the advantage in the first chukker thanks to back-to-back goals by Pieres, but was ultimately shut out by DRF in the second, leveling the score at three apiece. The third began in The Daily Racing Form’s favor as Hilario Ulloa and Jared Zenni made skilled shots on goal, but three consecutive goals by Valiente gave them the advantage at the half 6-5.
Second half play was more stop-and-go than the first with several fouls from both sides. The teams traded field goals in the fourth ending the chukker with a Penalty 1 for Valiente who clutched on to their narrow two-goal lead 9-7. Pieres was unstoppable in the fifth scoring three goals to DRF’s one. Pieres then added his tenth goal to the board at the top of the sixth, increasing the Valiente lead. Despite a valiant attempt by Ulloa who scored back-to-back goals in the final period of play, DRF was unable to catch up to their opponent’s fifth chukker momentum. Valiente secured the first spot in the C.V. Whitney Final 13-10.
“It felt good to play today, but it was a tough first game against a four-man team. I am pretty happy with our first game and hopefully we do well in the final. Adolfo is always telling me to go forward and go for the pass. Today that was a bit difficult because they were a strong team and there was not as much of an opening for me to do that. But the occasional times I had the opportunity to, I went for it.” – Tommy Beresford
PENALTIES PROVE PIVOTAL IN COLORADO VICTORY
The Valiente organization making up half of the tournament competition, Colorado took to the field in the second semifinal match against Grand Champions Polo Club (GCPC). Once again, an astute Valiente organization entered a 25-goal team and Colorado received a one-goal handicap to start the match. Grand Champions wasted no time leveling the score, ultimately outscoring their rivals to end the first leading 3-2. Colorado would steadily gain momentum as the game progressed however, equalizing the score in the second 4-all. Play heating up, penalties marked the remainder of the game. GCPC’s Nic Roldan and Colorado’s Diego Cavanagh matched in the third with two penalty conversions and a field goal each, a goal from Nico Pieres gave Grand Champions the edge at the half 8-7.
“It’s fun playing with Diego [Cavanagh], Santi [Torres]* and Magoo [Laprida]. You know, it took us a long time, four chukkers, to get in a rhythm-we’ve never played together and we’ve never had a practice. So that was the first time the four of us have been on the field together, so it took a while for us to figure out who goes where.” – Bob Jornayvaz
Colorado started to sneak away with the lead in the fourth, shutting out their opponents with three consecutive goals. GCPC countered with a stellar chukker of their own however, to once again equalize the score 11-all moving into the final chukker. A sixth chukker rife with stop-and-go play, all goals from both teams were decided entirely on penalty conversions; Roldan and Cavanagh controlling the game from the penalty line. In the final moments of play, a Right of Way infraction led to a Penalty 4 in favor of GCPC. Nine seconds remaining in regulation it was a make or break opportunity to force overtime. Unlike his previous seven penalty conversions, Roldan’s final efforts went wide and to the right of the goal, sealing the win for Colorado 14-13. “Having Adolfo in the tent helps a lot, coaching us, so that makes a big difference,” said Bob Jornayvaz. “So, Sunday… he’s not going to be there to coach us,” Jornayvaz continued, laughing.
The USPA Polo Network will livestream the C.V. Whitney Cup Final this Sunday, March 4, at 3:00pm ET. The pre-game show will be livestreamed beginning at 2:30pm ET on uspolo.org. For those wishing to attend the game at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in person, please visit ipc.coth.com.
*Santi Torres and Rob Jornayvaz are members of Team USPA. Team USPA is a USPA program designed to enhance and grow the sport of polo in the United States by identifying young, talented American players and providing mentored training and playing opportunities leading to a pool of higher rated amateur and pro players and the resultant giveback to the sport of polo.
All photos courtesy of ©David Lominska/www.polographics.com