Colorado had a close call against upset-minded Alegria in its final bracket game of the Triple Crown of Polo Saturday at Valiente Polo Farm.
Headed into the final chukker tied at 6-6, Colorado (Rob Jornayvaz, 2, Juan Martin Zubia, 7, Adolfo Cambiaso, 10, Jero del Carril, 7) reeled off four unanswered goals by Zubia and Del Carril to defeat Alegria (Freddie Mannix, 8, Juan Martin Obregon, 5, Gringo Colombres, 7, Jesse Bray, 6), 10-6, to become the first team to advance into Thursday’s semifinals with a 3-0 record.
“We just ran out of one last bullet in the last chukker,” Mannix said. “I felt we were close. I thought we could have done it if we could just catch a good break at the right time. We didn’t quite have enough bullets left. What a shame, we were so close.”
On Sunday, the third round of the Triple Crown of Polo will decide Wednesday’s subsidiary teams and Thursday’s semifinal teams, with three highly-anticipated games on tap.
Audi plays WPL in the feature game at 4 p.m. at Grand Champions Polo Club’s Field 2. In the two early games, Grand Champions plays Mandarina at 10 a.m. at Jan Pamela Field 3 and Valiente plays Black Watch at Valiente Polo Farm Field 2 at 1 p.m.
In a fast, wide open game, Colorado jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the low scoring first half. Alegria rallied late in the fourth chukker tying the game at 6-6 on Obregon’s penalty three conversion.
Alegria had its share of scoring opportunities in the final chukker but fell short while Cambiaso took command of the game with his leadership and long passes to Zubia and Del Carril.
“We played bad today,” Cambiaso said. “We won but we didn’t play the way we like. We were a bit too long. We need to get more compact. I think we did it when we were scared in the last chukker. I think we played well in the last chukker only.
“We let them play us tight,” Cambiaso said. “We played badly and they played well. I’m happy to win but we can play much better. We need to improve if we want to win the tournament. The way we played today we don’t win the tournament.”
Del Carril led Colorado with four goals. Zubia had three, Jornayvaz added two and Cambiaso had one. For Alegria, Mannix, Bray and Obregon each had two goals.
“We tried hard, we gave it everything,” Mannix said. “We really played well as a team. You have to play obviously well to beat that team. They are really good. They have the best player, they are super mounted, they have all the good horses and they know exactly what to do.
“We did play well, I am proud of these guys,” Mannix said. “Juan Martin is playing well in the back. Jesse is playing well. Gringo is distributing the ball well. I think it shows that we can be competitive if we put it together for six chukkers. It’s a shame about the last chukker. They were just too good for us in the last moments.”
The WPL is being live streamed on ESPN Deportes and ChukkerTV/Polo Channel/Horseplay with Gus Whitelaw calling the action. For more information go to www.worldpolo.org.
Co-founded by Grand Champions owners Melissa and Marc Ganzi and Valiente Polo Farm owner Bob Jornayvaz, the World Polo League is the only 26-goal polo in the world outside of Argentina. The WPL is preserving the highest level of polo and its rich, hallowed tradition in the U.S.
The WPL has its own set of simpler fan-friendly rules to improve the flow and action of the game.
The WPL, with 11 tournament-quality fields to play on, features the All-Star Challenge Draw Tournament, Founders Cup, Palm Beach Open and Triple Crown of Polo. The WPL is open to teams that wish to compete in one or more of the tournaments. Games are offered on the flat (Open) and on Handicap.
The World Polo League has attracted a large international field of players from all corners of the world including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Nigeria, New Zealand, Uruguay and U.S.
Grand Champions and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique polo facility in Wellington with 120 stalls in five self-contained barns, exercise track, five climate-controlled tack rooms, vet room, staff quarters, guest house and three polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation including one field for stick-and-ball with plans to build more polo fields in the future.