Story Courtesy of Eldorado Polo Club/Tony Gregg
In Indio, California, the format of the Eldorado Polo Club’s skins game, played in conjunction with the Rossmore Cup, allows that on occasion the number of chukkers won by each team can be even. Such was the case in the Rossmore Cup Final on Sunday afternoon, March 24, presented by Oban Single Malt Scotch Whiskey, as Ben Soleimani’s Bensoleimani.com (Ben Soleimani, Santiago Von Wernich, Remy Du Celliee Muller*, Tomy Alberdi*) and Canadian Ron Mathison’s Highwood (Ron Mathison, Marcelo Rodriguez-Abbiati, Marcos Llambias, Francisco Rodriguez-Mera) met in the 25th annual Skins contest. Each team won three chukkers, ultimately splitting the $30,000 available, and Highwood captured the Rossmore Cup with a final score 13-8.
The first chukker saw the early money going to Highwood as Rodriguez-Abbiati and Llambias scored field goals with an open goal reply from Bensoleimani.com’s Alberdi, a spot hit from inside thirty yards. In front of a huge crowd with a party atmosphere on a perfect afternoon, Highwood garnered the first $5,000 and the lead 2-1. The second featured extremely tight play with three Penalty 3 conversions; a pair of goals from Alberdi and one from Highwood’s Rodriguez-Mera. Equalizing the score 3-all, Bensoleimani.com received $5,000 for the chukker. The pressure continued to mount well into the third, as Alberdi converted another Penalty 3 along with a field goal. The lone Highwood goal came from Rodriguez-Mera with another 40-yard conversion as Bensoleimani.com won their second skin, gaining a total $10,000 to lead 5-4 at the half.
Following the Sophia halftime divot stomp, play in the fourth chukker opened up considerably and was dominated by Highwood as Rodriguez-Mera scored three unanswered field goals. The addition of the $5,000 gave the Canadian crew $10,000 as they led by two 7-5. The Soleimani group recovered in the fifth chukker as Alberdi counted another Penalty 3 and field goal followed by Von Wernich who sunk another from the field. Highwood kept it close with a pair of 40-yard open goals from Rodriguez-Mera but the skin went to Bensoleimani.com, giving them a total $15,000. Moving into the final chukker, Highwood continued to lead the field 9-8. Highwood took control and ran past the competition in the sixth scoring four unanswered goals and rendering Bensoleimani.com powerless. Highwood grabbed the final $5,000 to even each team’s total to $15,000 and they claimed the Rossmore Cup by a significant 13-8 margin.
Effective at moving the ball offensively along with strong defensive play, Llambias was selected as Most Valuable Player and received a $2,500 bonus. Argentina, owned and played by Rodriguez-Abbiati in the fourth was chosen as the Best Playing Pony. Along with the Best Playing Pony blanket, Argentina garnered a $2,500 award. Ed Adams, Master of Whisky and representing Oban & Lagavulin, presented bottles of Oban Single Malt Scotch Whiskey to the winners. Mike Ward, President of the Eldorado Polo Club, was on hand to award the $5,000 Skins checks as well as the Rossmore Cup to Highwood.
*Remy Du Celliee Muller and Tomy Alberdiare 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 ©Kerri Kerley.