After the first three games of bracket play, three competitive teams held undefeated records in the Jackson Hole Horse Emporium Wickenden Cup Final at Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club in Carpinteria, California. To prevent unnecessarily eliminating a competitive team, the decision was made to play the 2019 Jackson Hole Horse Emporium Wickenden Cup Final as a round robin between Klentner Ranch, Bensoleimani.com/JC Polo and Sapa/Gipsy Farms.
The first three chukkers of the round robin were played between Klentner Ranch and Bensoleimani.com/JC Polo. Klentner Ranch quickly assumed the lead knowing that with only three chukkers against each team, every minute counted. The scoreboard was tied going into the final chukker of the first round. However, Bensoleimani.com/JC Polo’s Remy Muller* struck when it counted, scoring three back-to-back goals to win the first game 7-4.
Bensoleimani.com’s Ben Soleimani attempts to steal the ball from Sapa/Gipsy Farms’ Paige Beard.
Klentner Ranch had a chance for redemption in the second round against Sapa/Gipsy Farms. Again, Klentner Ranch started strong, but was unable to follow through. Max Menini of Sapa/Gipsy scored four goals for his team to win 4-2, effectively eliminating Klentner Ranch. Sapa/Gipsy Farms carried on to the final round with a chance to win the trophy.
The final three chukkers of the nine chukker match were the most competitive of the game. It was a close battle between Bensoleimani.com/JC Polo and Sapa/Gipsy Farms for the title featuring fast and open polo as both teams began shooting on goal. Bensoleimani.com/JC Polo held a two-goal lead headed into the final chukker. Making a comeback, Menini scored three goals in the final chukker to tie the game 5-all. Only a few seconds remaining in the match, Bensoleimani.com/JC Polo’s Santi Von Wernich took a knock-in, hitting a long pass to Ben Soleimani. Taking three long shots downfield, Soleimani shot on goal with ease, scoring with only five seconds left on the clock to seal the win 6-5.
Most Valuable Player, Remy Muller, pictured with Kelly Smith and Alex Torres of Jackson Hole Horse Emporium.
Remy Muller was awarded Most Valuable Player for his strength both offensively and defensively. “Ben [Soleimani], Santi [Von Wernich], and Jemma [Contreras] are great teammates,” Muller said. “We won because we have a great team and a great organization, but to win a tournament you need a little bit of luck.”
Best Playing Pony Casanova played by Santi Von Wernich, pictured with Ben Soleimani.
Earning Best Playing Pony in the Bella Vista Designs Regional President’s Cup Final, Santi Von Wernich’s Casanova won his second Best Playing Pony award of the season. The 12-year-old gelding was played by Von Wernich in the third and ninth chukkers.
*Remy Muller is a member 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/Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club