“While we are all competitors on the field, off the field we are joined in a charitable community.” – Curtis Pilot
The end of April ushered in the gripping conclusion of the 2022 GAUNTLET OF POLO season. Filled with unrelenting action and incredible play from both the players and horses, the closing of this tournament ultimately led to the crowning of new champions.
Fresh off his win in the U.S. Open Polo Championship, CLICKPOLOUSA sat down with Pilot team owner Curtis Pilot to talk about his ceremonious second victory in the final tournament of the GAUNTLET OF POLO trilogy.
Curtis Pilot raised his second U.S. Open Polo Championship with at International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida. ©David Lominska
How does it feel to win the U.S. Open Polo Championship again?
“I realized how lucky we were to win the U.S. Open. For the public, it’s a two-hour event. But for us, it’s much more involved. Last year, we struggled as a team, so we went back to the drawing board and reorganized. I’m so happy to share this victory with the front-line players, but it wouldn’t be possible without all the help and sacrifice from the people behind the scenes.”
Did you enjoy it as much as the first title, or more?
“Every season of life changes how we feel about the things we experience; they are both equally important. The first title was a fairytale story. Then with COVID and the struggles we had the last few years, this year was a victory due to all of the hard work and planning from our team. For me I am always honored to be able to play for this cup.”
Your team didn’t have a great start in the GAUNTLET OF POLO season, so when did you think you could turn it around and win the USPA Gold Cup and the U.S. Open?
“The first tournament we made it to the semifinals and ran into a very strong and well-organized team and we were knocked out. From thereon, we really didn’t change anything, we just continued to play the best we could. And with a little luck and a lot of hard work, we were able to make it through to the Gold Cup and the Open.”
Pilot faced Park Place in back-to-back elimination games in the final of the USPA Gold Cup and semifinal of the U.S. Open Polo Championship. ©David Lominska
How was your experience in the final?
“The competition this year was so well balanced that we approached every game like it was the finals. We felt very blessed to be one of two teams to play for one of the most cherished cups in polo.”
How has your year in polo been?
“I wouldn’t have a year in polo without the dedication from our grooms, trainers, pilots and managers. We have focused a lot on our breeding and team horse program, and it seems to have worked really well. I will continue to practice and prepare for next year.”
Pilot’s 2022 charitable contributions included support for fellow polo player Corchito Zavaleta’s recovery following an injury during the season. ©Global Polo Entertainment
What place does polo occupy in your life today?
“Polo has allowed me to meet a lot of incredible people and I have made so many friends from all over the world. I am so honored to be a part of a worldwide community that is so willing to give to others in need. This year, we have once more experienced several incidents where people needed help from all of us, and so many have given with no hesitation.
My team is a representation of my name and my family, and I am very proud of them. While we are all competitors on the field, off the field we are joined in a charitable community. This year, it was important to Facundo to help support his friend, Corchito, after an unfortunate accident. Grand Champions Polo Club organized an event with Pilot, Park Place and several very special high-goal players and other supporters to take steps to create a fund to help him and his family during his recovery. At the end of the day this is the polo community in which I so proudly live.”