For the second consecutive year, Patagones captured the Aspen Valley Cup 8-Goal Final Monday at Grand Champions Polo Club.
Playing with three teenagers in the lineup, Patagones (Milo Dorignac, 0, Santos Bollini, 1, Joaquin Avendano, 2, Santi Wulff, 5) defeated Altair Polo (Ashley Busch, 0, Keko Magrino,1, Brandon Phillips, 4, Nick Manifold, 3), 14-13.
Patagones finished the tournament with a 3-1 record and avenged its only loss, 10-7, in Jan. 30 bracket play to Altair Polo (2-2). It is the first tournament the team has played together.
Wulff, a steadying influence on his young teammates and field general for Patagones, was named Most Valuable Player after scoring a game-high eleven goals including what turned out to be the game-winner from midfield.
“I feel good,” Wulff said. “It’s always nice to win this tournament. I think the key was this team beat us pretty good last time in the bracket. I thought we came more prepared and were ready this time. We adjusted a few things and the horses played really good.”
Bollini, 19, Avendano, 18 and Dorignac, 14, all played significant roles in their team’s victory.
“It was all the young kids playing good polo,” Wulff said. “Plus, we had Keko on the other side who is 16 and played well. It is fun to see these kids scoring and playing faster than we do.”
Machitos Monserrat, played by Manifold in the third chukker, was selected Best Playing Pony.
Patagones broke open a close game in the fifth chukker behind Wulff’s three goals and Avendano’s goal for a 4-1 chukker and 13-10 lead. Wulff scored from midfield for a 14-10 lead early in the sixth chukker. Manifold and Phillips combined for three goals late in the chukker but ran out of time.
“We had been working the whole game on the man and in the fifth chukker it worked out I ended up with the ball a few times on my own and was lucky to score,” Wulff said.
“Our organization is playing great at all levels,” Wulff said. “More horses for the kids, more horses for all of us thanks to Gonzalo who supports us.”
For Bollini, it was his first 8-goal tournament victory in two years and learning experience playing with the veteran Wulff.
“It was so much fun, it was incredible,” Bollini said. “It was a learning experience with Santi. He can teach really well. He is the best teammate you can have. He talks to you on the field and doesn’t yell at you.
“It’s fun when you are all young and playing together,” Bollini said. “You have something in common and you all want to learn and get better. We knew our strengths and weaknesses. This is the best game we have played together as a team for sure.”
Also for Patagones, Dorignac added two goals and Avendano had one.
For Altair Polo, Phillips had a team-high eight goals including six on penalty conversions. Magrini had three goals. Busch and Manifold each had one goal.
Two years ago, Patagones won the Handicap Final of the Aspen Valley Cup 8-Goal tournament.
The Aspen Valley Cup 8-Goal Handicap Final is Friday at 3 p.m. featuring Dutta Corp (Nico Diaz Alberdi, 1, Timmy Dutta, 2, Lucas Diaz Alberdi, 5, Tim Dutta, 0) against Horseware (Tom MacGuiness, 0, Tim Kyne, 0, Hugo Lloret, 5, Jason Wates, 3).
In the Metropolitan Cup 6-Goal Final, Banks Mill/Amista Polo (Hope Arellano/Cecelia Cochran, 1, Lucas Arellano, 2, Agustin Arellano, 3, Kylie Sheen, 0) defeated Mayer Ranch (Landen Daniels, 0.5, Clark Mayer, 0.5, Justin Daniels, 2, Brenden Stenzel, 2), 5-4, to finish the league undefeated (3-0).
In the Handicap Final, The Polo School (Ace Boyd, -1, Santos Bollini, 1, Juanse Olivera, 1.5, Carlitos Gracida, 4) defeated Willowcreek (Misty Allen, -1, Cecelia Cochran, 1, Jason Wates, 2, Mike Matz, 3), 5.5-2.
During the winter polo season, Grand Champions, the nation’s largest and innovative USPA-sanctioned polo club, is hosting 24 tournaments: 6, 8, 12, 20, and 0 to 40 goals, WCT Finals and women’s weekly league play and 26-goal World Polo League at both Grand Champions and Valiente Polo Farm.
Grand Champions tournaments attract a large international field of players from all corners of the world including India, Mexico, New Zealand, Chile, Costa Rica, Argentina, Canada, Ecuador, Brazil, Switzerland, France, Germany, Uruguay, Azerbaijan, South Africa, Nigeria, Venezuela and England.
Season highlights for 2019 are the Sterling Cup, March 1-31 $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament, March 1-16 John T. Oxley Memorial, March 3-24 $100,000 World Cup Tournament, a unique 0-40-goal, winner-take-all single-elimination tournament and 26-goal World Polo League.
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.
Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm caters to men, women and youth polo players at all levels and ages. Its’ expert staff can customize a complete playing experience including horses, pros and certified umpires in addition to lessons and practice sessions as part of its’ Polo On Demand program, created by Grand Champions President Melissa Ganzi when the club first opened.
The Polo School, a stand-alone USPA-sanctioned polo club, is dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grass roots youth. Its mission is to provide individuals opportunities in polo at every economic and ability level. Scholarships are available. The Polo School operates in Wellington January through June and September through November. Headed by Director of Operations Juan Bollini, The Polo School has nurtured several men and women polo players now playing in the pro and amateur ranks since its inception.