Qualifying for the Northrup Knox Cup Final and recently winning the National Copper Cup®, Skaneateles approached the third 12-goal final of the New Bridge Polo & Country Club (Aiken, South Carolina) season with confidence and hopeful anticipation. A rematch of the 2017 final, Skaneateles once again challenged Foxdale Equine dominating the tournament with two swift wins for redemption and their first Bronze Trophy®.
“We found a system during the first 12-goal tournament, the Northrup Knox Cup, which we felt suited each of us. We practiced together every two or three days, focusing on consistency and staying in position. We felt the system would work and we became better with each game and wow, what an outcome!” – Marty Cregg, Skaneateles Team Owner
Both teams eager to win their opening game on Sunday, November 3, the tournament would be decided by the best record of two games. Skaneateles and Foxdale Equine kept play tight throughout the first half. Rapidly approaching halftime, Skaneateles outscored their opponents in the third, effectively creating a one-goal lead to conclude the chukker 5-4.
Skaneateles’ Joaquin Panelo takes a nearside shot, with Foxdale Equine’s Nicolas Saenz on his hip.
Close play continued throughout the second half as the teams traded goals in the fourth to maintain the gap. Capturing the opening goal of the fifth to level the scoreboard, Julian Daniels was countered by a persistent Skaneateles who scored three goals to his two. Strong defense in the sixth rendered both sides scoreless, allowing Skaneateles to capture the first win 10-8.
After one day of rest, Skaneateles immediately took command of the second game on Tuesday, November 5, producing a slew of field goals in rapid succession in the first chukker. Opening the scoring with three consecutive blows, Skaneateles was relentless in their offensive attack which continued throughout the first half. The score a resounding 9-3 at the end of the third, Costi Caset* and Joaquin Panelo proved an unstoppable force hammering in all Skaneateles’ goals.
Reevaluating their strategy at the half, Foxdale Equine rallied scoring more goals in two out of the remaining three chukkers, but Skaneateles’ powerful drive persisted. Doubled up after the fourth 10-5, Caset extended the lead once again with three additional goals while Nicholas Saenz capitalized on a Penalty 2 conversion. Although ending the fifth with a comfortable 14-6 lead in favor of Skaneateles, Foxdale Equine outscored the team in blue in the sixth chukker three to two. Out of time to make their comeback, Skaneateles raised the trophy with a second win 16-9.
MVP Costi Caset, presented by Katie Johnson.
“Costi [Caset], Joaquin [Panelo] and Cesar [Jimenez] all played brilliantly today and it was a very clean final,” Marty Cregg said. “Our team clicked at a high level and all the practices and games we’ve played together have really paid off.” “We’ve been playing together for six weeks,” Panelo added. “We had everything on our side today.”
Contributing 10 impressive goals of Skaneateles’ total 16, Costi Caset was named Most Valuable Player. “This was a great way to finish the season,” Caset said. “Foxdale Equine was a really tough team with good players, but I think today our team was connecting really well and the horses played amazing too.”
BPP Chelo Buenavida, played and owned by Costi Caset and pictured with Luciano Croizet and Cecelia Fadiga.
Earning her second Best Playing Pony blanket of the season, 6-year-old Argentine homebred Chelo Buenavida, received the honor. Played by Costi Caset in the fifth chukker, the mare is a homebred from Caset’s breeding operation with his father in Argentina. “This is her first season here and she played awesome,” Caset said. “Hopefully she will become better and continue to give me even more on the field.”
*Costi Caset 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 ©Katie Roth.NEW BRIDGE POLO CLUB