It was another memorable afternoon at the Greenwich Polo Club last Tuesday as Ellipse, the electric Jupiter, Florida-based team edged out Palm Beach Equine, the powerhouse contingent hailing from Wellington, Florida, 11-9, to claim the 2021 East Coast Open title in stunning style.
This high-octane faceoff featured all the elements of an unforgettable professional sports final, as these two teams, both of who qualified for this showdown by accruing the highest number of wins among four total entries participating in this year’s East Coast Open, including Audi and Gardenvale, since its kickoff back in mid-August.
On this sunny September afternoon, Ellipse and Palm Beach Equine, both of who feature some of the finest players and horses on the high-goal circuit, went head-to-head in intensive fashion, staying tight in points right through to the final (sixth) chukker, making this an edge-of-your-seat faceoff in all regards.
Throughout the afternoon, these two superb squads played with the speed, attack, power and focus of Roman gladiators as they maneuvered the ball and their horses with the expertise and skills of major world-class athletes.
Notably, Hilario Ulloa, the renowned Ellipse 10 goaler and veritable star of the sport, flew up and down the field on his charges at remarkable speeds, knocking the ball either in or toward the goalposts with tremendous aptitude and skill.
Ulloa, who had been named Most Valuable Player of this match, said it was a good afternoon on all fronts.
“I’m very happy and excited. We all worked so hard,” said Ulloa. “I appreciate and am grateful to be playing with Louis, Robi and Matt. They are all great.”
This past year, Ulloa and his teammates, including Louis Devaleix, its stealth number-one player, Robert (Robi) Bilboa, its lightning-quick five goaler and Matt Coppola, its powerful five goaler, collectively set their sights on forming as strong a team as possible.
Throughout the year, this dedicated and driven squad, all of who are good friends, worked as intensively as possible to play at optimal level, efforts that showed based upon their successful outcome in this prestigious tournament.
“I’m super happy and really wanted to do well,” said Matt Coppola, the team’s number two player. “We have all worked so hard and to be able to play with Hilario has been incredible. He’s helped me get better and have more understanding of the rhythm and whole way of playing.”
In hearing about the time, effort and energy this crew had put into their work leading up to this tournament, it was heartwarming to see them all celebrate together, along with their entire crew, during the awards ceremony.
Upon receiving the celebrated Perry Cup Trophy, the Ellipse team, along with their families, friends, horse handlers and others, stood on the dais cheering, jumping up and down and hugging one another as they were showered with confetti and champagne.
“We started the process of preparing for the season a year ago and it’s been an incredible road,” said Louis Devaleix, the team’s amiable patron. “This was a team effort all around. Hilario is amazing, Matt went above and beyond and Robi is awesome and I believe our day in and day out routine helped get us to get here more than anything.”
Certainly, preparation was a key component for this contingent, who faced extremely tough competition in this tournament right up through to the final.
The other 2021 East Coast Open finalists, Palm Beach Equine, lead by its steadfast patron, Scott Swerdlin, is a top-flight squad which had won many matches at the Greenwich Polo Club going into this showdown.
Throughout the match, Palm Beach Equine played in explosive fashion, with its players knocking in goals and fielding the ball with extraordinary expertise and command.
In particular, Gringo Columbres, the team’s internationally renowned eight goaler who has been a main driving force of Palm Beach Equine all season, played a great offensive and defensive game. (His collegues, along with Swerdlin, also included Dylan Rossister, its formidable five goaler and Felipe Viana, its rock-steady six goaler.)
Columbres’ gorgeous charge, Coquito, a gorgeous gelding with whom he has played with for more than five years, was awarded the Best Playing Pony citation for his speed, dexterity and maneuvering.
Adding to of the excitement and drama of this final, which was televised on ESPN, was the energy and conviviality among the whole crowd who was there, a dynamic that was especially felt during the asado (Argentinian barbeque) after the awards ceremony.
Ultimately, Ulloa seemed to capture the whole mood of the day with his take on the exciting events.
“To win today was amazing and to win at the Greenwich Polo Club is a bonus,” said Ulloa, who spent more than five seasons playing at the Greenwich Polo Club during the 2010s. “Everyone is great and I love being here.”
Ulloa’s statement seems to express so much of what the Greenwich Polo Club is all about.
Considering its staggering beauty and unique center stage featuring so many of the sport’s greatest high-goal players and horses, the Greenwich Polo Club, with its dedicated management and staff, business partners, vendors and fans, is a place truly unlike any other.
One more Sunday public match is scheduled to be held at the Greenwich Polo Club on September 25th at 3pm. (Gates open at 1pm) For more information, please visit the Greenwich Polo Club website at greenwichpoloclub.com