By Liz Leamy
Last Sunday was one for the books at the Greenwich Polo Club as Ellipse and Gardenvale went head-to-head against each other in a four-chukker exhibition match, amidst somewhat damp skies, to mark the continuation of the 2021 East Coast Open and its summer high-goal season, with the former coming out ahead of the latter, 7-2 in the final tally.
These two explosive teams, representing half of the four total world-class 20-goal contingents participating in this year’s East Coast Open, battled it out against each other in fierce fashion much to the delight of spectators who could be heard oohing and ahhing as the players and horses flew up and down the field with incredible speed and aptitude.
“The athleticism and precision of the players and their horses out there is unmatched,” said Tyler Del Vento, a Kentucky native who lives in Weston, Connecticut and was there attending the match with her husband, Maximilano Del Vento and their three year-old son, Hudson. “I’m so glad everyone came out today. The rain has cleared and it’s been a wonderful day. I especially love seeing all of the fashion here. It reminds me a lot of being at the Kentucky Derby.”
Certainly, the success of the afternoon, despite the uncertain weather, seemed to be logical considering the stellar standard and reputation of the Greenwich Polo Club and its entire organization, who always manage to step up to the plate, as all of the competitors in this faceoff, both equine and human, effectively brought out their A game, making it a good day for all.
“It was really nice to play out here today and I’m looking forward to playing again,” said Louis Devaleix, the number one player for Ellipse, which is based out of Jupiter, Florida. “We’re all good friends and we’ve worked hard and had a good time preparing for this tournament. The horses have also been incredible.”
Others shared the same level of excitement as Devaleix.
“It’s been incredible to watch the game and the people here have been nothing but fantastic. We’re so happy to be here,” said Joseph Sancio, Senior Marketing Manager of Yieldstreet, an investment firm and corporate sponsor of the Greenwich Polo Club. “This is our first year with the [Greenwich Polo Club] and it will not be our last. We plan on coming here for a long time.”
Notably, the skills and presence of Hilario Ulloa, the sensational Argentinian 10 (maximum number) goaler and number-three Ellipse player known for his superb style, technique, horsemanship and understanding of the game, was a standout at this match.
Hailing from Lincoln, Argentina (a homebase for many of high-goal polo’s star equine and human athletes), Ulloa knocked in the crux of his team’s goals and played with extraordinary expertise, command and energy, an exciting thing for everyone there, including his colleagues.
“Hilario is great and it’s incredible to play with him. He has so much knowledge and understanding and I am always learning so much from him,” said Robert (Robi) Bilboa, the talented and reputable Ellipse five goaler. “It felt good to be out there today. We’ve worked hard and have been waiting for this tournament.”
“It’s incredible to be playing with Hilario Ulloa,” said Devaleix. “He’s a great guy and brings so much to the game and to the team.”
Ulloa, who, like most of the players after the match, graciously spent time chatting and posing for pictures with spectators and also signing their programs and polo balls, agreed the day was a good one.
“It was great to be here today. The horses are in great shape and so are the players. It’s also really good to be back here,” said Ulloa, who had played at the Greenwich Polo Club for three to four years during the latter part of the 2010s. “I love to play here at the Greenwich Polo Club. Everyone is so nice.”
Ulloa’s sentiments were strongly echoed by others, including the spectators, who represent a main force at the Greenwich Polo Club.
“We are having such a good time and being here means a lot to my husband, who is Argentinian and loves this sport,” said Tyler Del Vento. “This is a magnificent venue, the people have been wonderful and the match has been fantastic. My son, Hudson, is also having a really fun time. We definitely want to come back.”
Meanwhile, the members of Gardenvale, the formidable high-goal contingent who won last week’s East Coast first- round opening series game, also expressed excitement over the prospect of competing at the Greenwich Polo Club in the East Coast Open.
“We’re excited to be here and play. It’s such a great place,” said Felipe Viana, the esteemed Gardenvale number four player and six goaler.
Conclusively, Saltana, the gorgeous charge belonging to the number one player for Gardenvale, Shane Finemore, was awarded the Best Playing Pony citation for her outstanding work out on the field.
For more information regarding Greenwich Polo Club matches and the East Coast Open, which will be running through the end of the month, please visit the organization’s website at www.greenwichpoloclub.com