Breaking the 2-1 three-way tie with a one-man shootout, Foxdale Equine Veterinary Services met SD Farms (Aiden Meeker, Sayyu Dantata, Peco Polledo, Carlitos Gracida) in the National Copper Cup® Final on Sunday, October 18. Although tied at halftime, Foxdale Equine Veterinary Services (Hugh Worsham, Nachi Viana, Adam Snow, Julian Daniels) gained the lead in the tight match and defeated their opponents for the second time in tournament play to claim the trophy 12-11 at New Bridge Polo & Country Club in Aiken, South Carolina.
“I’ve played with Adam Snow and Hugh Worsham for many years so we already have good chemistry and Nachi Viana is a strong up-and-coming player to have on our team.” – Julian Daniels
Testing the skills of both teams, the first half proved to be a battle from the penalty line. Capitalizing on early opportunities and showcasing his versatility, Viana added three consecutive penalty goals (a Penalty 2, 3 and 4) to Foxdale Equine Veterinary Services’ tally in the first with SD Farms going scoreless. “I practice penalties a lot so I was very confident with them,” Viana said. Picking up his second Penalty 2, Viana’s dominant run was ended in the second as Gracida countered with a couple Penalty 2 conversions of his own. The scoreboard reflecting purely penalty goals, Foxdale Equine Veterinary Services led 4-3 headed into the third. Taking full advantage of costly mistakes, Gracida opened the third with another pair of goals, capturing the first field goal of the game. Not to be outdone, Daniels equalized the scoreboard with Foxdale Equine Veterinary Services’ first field goal and the half ended in a tie 5-all.
SD Farms’ Peco Polledo on a breakaway to goal.
Penalty shots continued to play a role for both teams throughout the game but Foxdale Equine Veterinary Services managed to hold a slight lead in the remaining three chukkers. Outscoring SD Farms 3-1 in the fourth, Foxdale Equine Veterinary Services held a two-goal advantage with Viana leading the scoring. Making offensive moves in the fifth, Gracida and Polledo successfully leveled the scoreboard again, but Viana and Worsham quickly answered back for Foxdale Equine Veterinary Services. Narrowing the gap to one, Gracida’s accuracy on Penalty 2’s didn’t allow for much margin for error entering the sixth chukker 10-9 in favor of Foxdale Equine Veterinary Services. As the competition intensified in the sixth, SD Farms gained two Penalty 1 automatic goals, but two goals from Foxdale Equine Veterinary Services kept the deficit intact to claim the trophy 12-11. “The last chukker was flat out with and both sides having a chance to win,” Snow said. “Nachi’s [Viana] game-winning safety was a beauty.”
“Nachi’s game-winning safety was a beauty.” – Adam Snow of Foxdale Equine Veterinary Services
Although playing for the first time with Worsham and Daniels, Viana reunited with teammate Adam Snow who he won the 2020 National President’s Cup with on Bottega two weeks ago. “We couldn’t really play the style we had been playing throughout the tournament in the final because the field was a little bouncy and wet so we had to adjust and play simple,” Viana said. “We were focused on the game and played well plus the experience of my teammates who have been playing for a long time helped us out.”
Foxdale Equine Veterinary Services’ Nachi Viana turns the ball on the nearside, SD Farms’ Sayyu Dantata on defense.
“It was a really tough game and SD Farms played strong throughout,” Snow added. “I think we probably did best on our combinations and transitions, but even those felt tough because there was not a lot of time and space.” Having fun playing the 8-goal season together in Aiken, Julian, Hugh and Adam decided to compete in the 12-goal. “It was Julian’s idea to ask Hugh to play 12-goal and it was my idea to bring Nachi in to complete the team,” Snow recounted.
Responsible for eight of his team’s 12 total goals, Nachi Viana was named Most Valuable Player once again, having won the honor in the National President’s Cup. “Always giving one-hundred percent in every single play helped me a lot and I think it was what won me the MVP award,” Viana shared. Playing only two horses of his own, Viana was thankful for his brother Felipe Viana* who made it possible by sending him horses from his string to compete. “Felipe is extremely generous and he just lent them to me to play in this tournament!” Viana said.
8-year-old Paragua received her second Best Playing Pony blanket of the 2020 New Bridge season, after recently winning the honor in the Northrup Knox Cup® Final with Peco Polledo. Played by Polledo in the third and sixth chukkers, Paragua has been in the United States for three years. “She is from my breeding in Argentina and she is very easy to play and very handy,” Polledo said.
Foxdale Equine Veterinary Services’ Adam Snow keeps his eyes on the ball.
Playing with Daniels for the first time nearly three decades ago, the win is especially important to Snow. “It’s a special feeling to win the National Copper Cup® with Julian Daniels, a friend and teammate with whom I first began playing in England during the early 1990s,” Snow commented. “We make a good balance and I am very appreciative of Hugh and Penny Worsham for trusting our idea for this Foxdale Equine Veterinary Services 12-goal squad!”
*Felipe Viana is a Team USPA alumni. 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.