In a nice change of pace, the weather in Central Texas was beautiful and breezy for the Southwestern Circuit Amateur Cup, the first tournament of the Central Texas Polo Association (CTPA) season. Including three polo clubs within the regional association, the CTPA is fortunate enough to be able to use the arenas and fields at ATX Polo Club (Manor, Texas), Texas Military Polo Club (Poteet, Texas) and Two Wishes Polo Club (Lockhart, Texas) to offer the best polo in Central Texas. The season-opener featured competitive 4-goal play and the return of many familiar faces over the weekend of April 9-10.
Oak Bend Farm’s Joss Leufrancois taps the ball in mid-air.
The first match-up of the tournament featured Patton Legacy Sports (Amanda Massey, Stephanie Colburn*, Karl Hilberg, James Glew, Brady Williams, Jack Crea) taking on Oak Bend Farm (Jessica Mignone, Chris Ballard, Joss Leufrancois, Tiamo Hudspeth*). Helmed by team captain Hudspeth, Oak Bend triumphed over Patton Legacy Sports to advance to the final. The subsequent game showcased Walter Alston (Lauren Sterr, Wes Alston, Anson Moore, Ariel Mancebo) defeating JD Polo (Valeria Insua, Mark Urdahl, Javier Insua, Nadir Khan) to capture their spot in Sunday’s championship.
Patton Legacy Sports’ James Glew on a breakaway.
The consolation match between Patton Legacy Sports and JD Polo provided a thrilling back-and-forth display of grit and determination to enliven the crowd prior to the championship final. In the first half of the game both teams regularly exchanged goals, keeping the score extremely tight with JD Polo only able to pull ahead by one. Drawing upon their zeal to win, JD Polo re-energized their defensive efforts while also putting together a string of powerful offensive drives to score three goals and hold their opponents scoreless. Inspired by the competitive play and wanting to contribute to her team’s success, Valeria Insua scored a goal for her team in a glorious debut in her first tournament.
Oak Bend Farm’s Tiamo Hudspeth on Best Playing Pony Celeste and Walter Alston’s Anson Moore battle for possession.
The championship match between Oak Bend Farm and Walter Alston followed up all the action from the consolation game. With two very evenly-matched teams, it was a hard-fought final from start to finish. The first half was extremely close, with Walter Alston only able to climb 1.5 goals ahead of Oak Bend Farm. The second half remained competitive, both teams only differentiated by 0.5 goals going into the final chukker. In an enthralling change of lead in the sixth, Oak Bend Farm’s Ballard was able to score from the field with 5:37 left on the clock. Walter Alston was unable to respond and Ballard’s goal secured the victory, glory and bragging rights for Oak Bend Farm.
Most Valuable Player Ariel Mancebo, presented by Karl Hilberg.
Ariel Mancebo was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament while Best Playing Pony honors were awarded to six-year old San Ysidro homebred Celeste (available for purchase), played by Tiamo Hudspeth in the fourth chukker. “Her sire is Chilo our late homebred stallion and her dam played in the Goodman high-goal string and retired as a broodmare,” Hudspeth said. “I have done everything with Celeste from her halter breaking, starting under saddle and now into her polo career. She is a classic style mare with a big bump, lots of speed and a solid stop and turn around. The fourth chukker I played her in the final was a gritty hard fought chukker – I don’t think she lost a bump. She will really hold one off for you which allows me to just focus on the ball and not worry about the man when marking. She is built like a brick house!”
Best Playing Pony Celeste, played by Tiamo Hudspeth, presented by Karl Hilberg.
The Sportsmanship Award was presented to JD Polo’s Valeria Insua competing in her first field tournament following her participation in the C-Flight of the Texas Arena League (TAL).
Sportsmanship Award recipient Valeria Insua, presented by Karl Hilberg.
*Stephanie Massey Colburn and Tiamo Hudspeth are Team USPA alumnae. 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 ©David Murrell.