Played on Sunday, February 7, the Carlton & Keleen Beal Cup Final featured wonderful wide open running polo created by deft setups along with some uncharacteristic missed opportunities by both teams. On another cloudless afternoon in Southern California, Antelope (Grant Palmer, Santiago Trotz, Jimmy Wright*, Wesley Bryan sub for injured Segundo Saravi) lined up against Cavallo Ranch (John Bickford, Max Menini, Tomas Obregon, Alejandro Gonzalez) in a game where neither team, at any time, led by more than one goal.
“The team worked hard to overcome two player injuries throughout the tournament. Our goal was to play organized, open and disciplined polo, to make it easy for Wesley Bryan to play with us on unknown horses.” – Jimmy Wright
Antelope’s Santiago Trotz attempting the hook on Cavallo Ranch’s Alejandro Gonzalez.
Cavallo Ranch took the early lead as Menini scored shortly after the opening throw-in. Antelope then responded quickly with offensive pressure that forced Cavallo Ranch into defensive mistakes that allowed Wright to convert a Penalty 2 followed by a 60-yard free shot to lead by a pair 2-1. Cavallo Ranch responded with a strong force of their own that gave Obregon a successful Penalty 3 opportunity, tying the game 2-all. The second chukker consisted of wide open running-to-goal polo, however both teams went scoreless headed into the third. While the shared missed opportunities from the field and the penalty line continued into the third chukker, Antelope was able to gain the advantage by one as Trotz scored to give his team its first lead of the game. Cavallo Ranch then took a one-goal lead as Obregon added two goals of his own. Moving into halftime, Cavallo Ranch led 4–3.
Cavallo Ranch’s John Bickford on a run downfield.
Antelope drew even in the fourth as Wright contributed a field goal. Obregon then gave Cavallo another lead of one as he converted a Penalty 3. On perhaps the most outstanding play of the game, Bryan, on a long set up by Wright, who was set up by Trotz on a perfect buckshot from the other side of center, scored his only goal in the fourth. “Wesley played amazing and stretched the field for us,” said Wright. The score was tied again 5-all at the end of the chukker. In the fifth, Bickford gave Cavallo Ranch another lead on a Penalty 2 spot hit. Palmer then scored his first of two in the chukker to tie the count once again, but Bickford counted another 40-yard open goal tally to give Cavallo Ranch the advantage.
Antelope’s Grant Palmer playing the ball out of the air.
Antelope quickly bounced back as Palmer tied the score 7-all with his second from the field on a 70-yard pass from Wright, leading to a perfect cut shot from 30 yards and only 15 yards off the end line. In the final chukker both teams were unable to score until Antelope was afforded a Penalty 3 opportunity which Wright made no mistake on. Antelope’s lead proved to be enough and they won the Carlton & Keleen Beal Cup by a final score of 8–7.
Most Valuable Player Jimmy Wright with wife Kristen Hiller and daughter Anna.
Karlene Beal Garber, daughter of Carlton and Keleen Beal and a member of the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame, presented the awards to the winning team. With long and accurate passing for Antelope, Jimmy Wright was awarded the title of Most Valuable Player. “This is my sixth year with Antelope and playing with Antelope is always a blast. We bring the best out of each other and it means a lot to continue to be able to win with them,” stated the MVP. The Best Playing Pony blanket was presented to seven-year-old Argentine mare Sorpresa, owned and played by Santiago Trotz in the sixth chukker.
Best Playing Pony Sopresa, owned and played by Santiago Trotz. Pictured with Jazmin Trotz and Oscar & Brian Dolores.
*Jimmy Wright is a Team USPA Alumni Member. 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 ©Kerri Kerley.