The ponies have boarded southbound trailers. The barns are quiet, and the air is getting chilly; a perfect time to reflect on the success of the season at Las Brisas Farm and Polo Club based just outside of Chicago, in Elgin, Illinois.
Since its formation in 2019, Las Brisas has quickly become a premiere polo destination and 2022 was no exception. The highlight of the summer was the inaugural USPA-sanctioned $50,000 Midwest Open. The 12-goal tournament was the vision of Larry Aschebrook, Owner of Las Brisas Farm and Polo Club and Team Owner of G Squared.
When asked about how he brought the idea to life, Aschebrook’s answer was simple. “There is an East Coast and a West Coast tournament, so I approached [the USPA] about having a Midwest Open. Everyone was supportive of it and we [were] excited to showcase the very competitive teams and good polo in Chicago.”
The tournament was able to land a new presenting sponsor; Planemasters, one of the largest executive charter jet companies in the Midwest. Technology also played a key role in creating more awareness around the event, with games and highlights shown on www.pololine.tv and lasbrisaspolo.com.
Juan Martin Obregon contributed five goals in the final for G Squared. ©Karl Knapp
The tournament itself drew world-class players with outstanding rosters, but the final dwindled the elite competition down to Oak Brook (Herndon Radcliff*, Horacio Onetto, Tommy Collingwood, Jim Drury, Ramon Caro) and G Squared (Larry Aschebrook, Juan Martin Gutierrez, Matias Obregon, Juan Martin Obregon, Ale Gutierrez).
A rematch of the tournament’s very first game, Oak Brook and G Squared met earlier in bracket play, with Oak Brook narrowly defeating G Squared 11-10. In the final, Oak Brook triumphed yet again, this time taking the win 11-8.
Scoring six of his team’s goals, the MVP of the game was Horacio Onetto, who also served as the Oak Brook team captain. Juan Martin Obregon followed closely behind in goals scored, with five tactful goals that kept G Squared in the game throughout the six chukkers.
Most Valuable Player Horacio Onetto led Oak Brook with six goals. ©Leah Lewis/@equinebyleah
Tommy Collingwood’s Avispa, a 9-year-old mare that he bought from Javier Canton in Argentina three years ago, was named Best Playing Pony. A favorite of Collingwoods, he described her, “She’s small, quick, and has a huge heart, a very soft mouth, and she’s really comfortable. I played her for a bit in the third chukker and brought her back in the sixth.”
Best Playing Pony Avispa, played and owned by Tommy Collingwood, pictured Max Araux and Luis Andino. ©Leah Lewis/@equinebyleah
Collingwood’s ability to generate scoring success proved to be pivotal to Oak Brook, when he scored a crucial goal in the fourth chukker from over 100 yards out to tie the game 6-all moving into the fifth chukker. Entering the final chukker, the score stood at 8-7 in favor of Oak Brook, but Onetto was able to expand Oak Brook’s lead by three goals to claim the 11-8 victory.
Playing as a substitute in place of Jim Drury, 15-year-old Ramon Caro noted the significance of the win, sharing, “To win the inaugural Midwest Open was one of the biggest accomplishments of my polo career. I was honored to be on the field with so many great names and to be part of such a great team. My family is from the Midwest, so to carry the title is a great honor.”
Inaugural Midwest Open Trophy. ©Leah Lewis/@equinebyleah
A new staple at Las Brisas Polo Club, the Midwest Open will return in 2023, ensuring the continuation of competitive 12-goal polo in the Midwest region. As a result of the event’s success, as well as access to some of the most beautiful fields in the country, enthusiastic sponsors, a growing fanbase and Aschebrook’s dedication to the cause, the future of polo in the Midwest certainly looks very promising.
*Herndon Radcliff is Team USPA alumnus. 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.