Valiente make history at Grand Champions
On Sunday 17 February, polo history was made as the first World Polo League 26 Goal All Star Challenge Draw Final was played at Grand Champions Polo Club. Valiente secured their place in the Final on Friday 15 February with their comeback defeat against Patagones, 11-9, at Valiente Polo Farm, which added to their 8-7 win over Audi in earlier qualifiers. Colorado’s route to the Final was a little easier with three wins (10-7 against Grand Champions, 11-9 against Scone and 10-9 against Flexjet) and therefore qualified directly for the tournament. Before the big day, World Polo League Commissioner Dale Smicklas commented, “I am really looking forward to the Finals. Obviously, we have the two undefeated teams going into the Finals which is as it should be. What I am most excited about is the overall progress that the highest level of polo in the northern hemisphere has made.”
As Final day dawned, crowds gathered at Grand Champions Polo Club to cheer on both Valiente and Colorado. The match was livestreamed by World Polo League, with 10 goaler Pelon Stirling joining Gus Whitlaw in the commentator booth, spectators from around the globe were able to enjoy the Final. At half-time the scores rested on 5-4 with Valiente just holding the lead but the final result remained anyone’s guess. Both teams seemed evenly matched as the scores continued to remain close, with the fourth chukka ending 6-7 in favour of Valiente. By the end of the fifth chukka the scores were tied at 7-7 and the Final eventually rolled into overtime, where Valiente were able to secure the win and ultimately the title.
The World Polo League continues on Wednesday 20 February with the start of The Founders Cup, with the Final scheduled for 3 March.
All Star Challenge Draw Final Teams:
Valiente (25): Agustín Nero (6), Santi Torres (6), Pablo Mac Donough (10) & Poroto Cambiaso (3)
Colorado (25): Rob Jornayvaz (2), Juan Martín Zubia (7), Rodrigo de Andrade (9) & Jero Del Carril (7)
Photograph: Valiente, winners of the inaugural World Polo League All Star Challenge Draw. By Guadalupe Aizaga