By Sharon Robb
Photos by Jennifer McLeavy
WELLINGTON, Fl., January 1, 2022—The future looks bright based on the talented up-and-coming players who competed in the Polo Training Foundation‘s tenth annual Tackeria Cup and Major Collin Memorial Thursday at IPC Isla Carroll West and East Fields.
ChukkerTV (Jem Handler, Ava Nunes, Daniel Arnold, Finn Secunda) won the Tackeria Cup defeating GJ Racing (Maeve Reicher, Ariadne Dogani, Joaquin Vilgre de la Madrid, Ramon Caro), 3-1, and Tackeria (Saralyn Painter, Harrison Reicher, Sophia De Angelis, Ava Rose Hinkson), 4-0, in round robin play. In the other match, Tackeria defeated GJ Racing, 3-1.
Finn Secunda, 14, an eighth grader at St. Edwards School in Vero Beach, scored a tournament-high five goals and was named Most Valuable Player.
Fantastica, a 10-year-old owned by Max Secunda and played by his son, was selected the Tackeria Cup Red Barn Best Playing Pony.
„It was nice to win,“ Secunda said. „I had fun playing with my team. I got some great experience captaining. I was really happy with Best Playing Pony because it was my dad‘s horse and he‘s worked hard to get me good horses.“
GJ Racing‘s Joaquin Vilgre de la Madrid earned the Sportsmanship Award.
It was only natural Secunda would follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, British great and former 9-goaler Julian Hipwood, and his father Max, also a player and coach.
„It definitely helps when your dad and grandfather played,“ Secunda said. „They encourage me. In the beginning my dad didn‘t want me to play polo because it‘s an expensive sport, but I ended up loving it and I still do.
„I loved going around on little ponies and being led around when I was 3 or 4,“ Secunda said. „After that I was using a little mallet on short horses. Nowadays, I have fun playing it and I like the bond with the horses. It makes your mind sharp as well and getting into a good school when I‘m older.“
At 13, Secunda was the youngest member of the winning team of the 2020 National Youth Tournament Series Championship, youngest to play in the event and take home the Cecil Smith Cup. Last season he was a sub for Scone patron David Paradice in the U.S. Open. This past summer he won the USPA Eduardo Moore 8-Goal Invitational with Hawk Hill. In September, he was invited to practice with the Harvard polo team.
In the Major Collin Memorial, Power Group Total Care (Benjamin Obregon, Valentina Tarazona, Lion Mandelbaum, Sebastian Mandelbaum) won the title.
Valentina Tarazona of Power Group Total Care was Most Valuable Player. Max Scott Barnes of GJ Racing was leading scorer with two goals. Bayita, owned and played by Antonio Villamil, was Best Playing Pony.
In the opening two-chukker match, GJ Racing (Antonio Villamil, Inaki Wulff, Max Scott Barnes, Sophia Fischer) defeated Mayer Ranch (Tomas Caro, PJ De Angelis, Naomi Malough, Sailor Schwaber), 3-0. In the second match, Power Group Total Care and Mayer Ranch tied 1-1. In the third match, Power Group Total Care defeated GJ Racing, 2-1.
The Polo Training Foundation is committed to excellence in the sport of polo. The PTF supports polo training at all levels by providing funds for the development of current and future generations of players and umpires. The PTF was co-founded by Bill Ylvisaker in 1967 and served as its first Vice President.
Both the Eldorado Junior Program and the Florida Junior Program are accepting registrations for the Winter Season.
Eldorado Junior Polo practice starts Saturday, January 8th and will run every Saturday and Sunday morning. To sign up, or for further information email VioletaEscapite@hotmail.com
Registration links for Florida Junior Polo can be found on the Polo Training Foundation website.
Upcoming tournaments include: Jan. 17, Joanna Monaco & Blanco TX Cup; Feb. 21, U.S. Polo Assn Junior Tournament, featuring the historic Avendano Trophy; March, 2022, Buzz Welker & Yunghanns Charity Challenge; and April 2022, Jimmer Newman Memorial.
Both of these programs are 100% funded by donations from supporters that will help the effort to promote the future of our sport. Contact Violeta Escapite (Eldorado) or Jennifer McLeavy (Florida) to sponsor a team.