This September, Oak Bend Farm in Ledbetter, Texas, hosted its first tournament as a USPA Member Club: the Southwest Circuit Sportsmanship Cup (0- to 2-goal). Utilizing the USPA’s Tournament Stimulus Package, the club was able to benefit from $2,500 in prize money, a professional umpire, trophy reimbursement and a waived tournament fee.
One of the newest USPA clubs, Oak Bend Farm brings together players from all corners of the lone-star-state for fun and competitive polo. Competitors traveled from the likes of Austin, College Station, Houston and San Antonio. Oak Bend Farm serves as the home of polo in Central Texas, offering practices and tournaments, horse sales, boarding and vacation rentals. Oak Bend Farm is conveniently located within an hour’s drive of both Austin, Texas and College Station, Texas, and just 90 minutes from Houston, Texas.
Proton Partners’ Ariel Mancebo prepares for a nearside, Oak Bend Farm’s Joss Leufrançois races to defend.
Held over two days, the Sportsmanship Cup kicked off on Saturday, September 23, with two round robins to determine which teams would play in the Championship and consolation matches the following day.
Six teams competed in the tournament, including Oak Bend Farm, Eagles’ Landing, Bar Spur, San Antonio Polo Club, Elite Motion and Proton Partners.
Oak Bend Farm’s Joss Leufrançois prepares for a defensive backshot play.
In the first round robin, Oak Bend Farm (Nadir Khan, Jocelyn “Joss” Leufrançois, Fabian Osses, Christopher Ballard) faced Eagles’ Landing (James Mccan, Quique Garcia Jr., Gustavo Toro, Whitney Walker). Oak Bend started off strong with two goals apiece from Khan and Leufrançois, followed by another from Osses to secure the win.
Eilte Motion’s Carter Costello on a breakaway.
In the second game, Eagles’ Landing took on Elite Motion (Tiamo Hudspeth*, Carter Costello, Stephanie Colburn*, Amanda Massey). Elite Motion quickly put up four goals from Hudspeth and Costello before Eagles’ Landing’s Garcia Jr. put his team on the board. With a last offensive push, Elite Motion’s Hudspeth and Colburn combined for three goals prior to the final horn. In the last game of the first round robin (Oak Bend Farm vs. Elite Motion) Oak Bend’s Ballard ran down a loose ball and tapped a neckshot to capture the game’s first goal. This was followed by goals from Khan and Osses for Oak Bend Farm before Hudspeth responded, bringing Elite Motion within striking distance. Oak Bend was able to hold off any further goals, allowing them to advance to Sunday’s championship.
Oak Bend Farm’s Joss Leufrançois and Elite Motion’s Ben Colburn battle for possession.
Up first in the second round robin, Bar Spur (Brady Williams, Wendy Stover, Mark Osburn, Lisa Yanskey) faced San Antonio Polo Club (Fabian “Chileniti” Osses, Gal Shweiki, Aloisio “Al” Bueno, Stephanie Sharp). Bar Spur’s Stover struck first, followed by teammate Osburn off a Penalty 3 conversion and two strong goals from the field.
Bar Spur’s Brady Williams leads the pack downfield.
Next up, San Antonio Polo Club played Proton Partners (Javier Insua V, Luis “Lepi” Mancebo, Wesley “Wes” Alston, Stephen Stout), who came out swinging with five unanswered goals during the first chukker and one during the second. In Saturday’s final matchup, Proton Partners and Bar Spur sparred against one another in a duet of defensive play. Proton Partners’ Insua scored first but was quickly answered by Bar Spur’s Yanskey. During the second chukker, Alston knocked in the game-winner and propelled Proton Partners to the final.
San Antonio Polo Club’s Israel Osses carries the ball alongside Eagles Landing’s Gustavo Toro.
On Sunday, September 24, the consolation match was played between San Antonio Polo Club and Eagles’ Landing. When the horn sounded and the dust settled, Eagles’ Landing took the win.
Bar Spur’s Wendy Stover breaks away from Elite Motion’s Ben Colburn.
To determine third-place, Elite Motion squared off against Bar Spur. A nailbiter of a match, goals went back and forth in rapid succession, starting with Bar Spur (Stover) then Elite Motion (Costello), back to Bar Spur (Yanskey) and again to Elite Motion (Costello). During the third chukker, Colburn put up the next goal while Bar Spur’s Williams responded late in the fourth chukker. After an incredible match that went down to the wire, Elite Motion took third place with a 0.5-goal handicap advantage.
Proton Partners’ Wesley “Wes” Alston reaches for the hook on Oak Bend Farm’s Joss Leufrançois.
In the Championship, Oak Bend Farm took on Proton Partners: the teams fought it out early, with Insua scoring first for Proton Partners followed by Khan for Oak Bend. During the second chukker, Proton Partners poured it on, with goals from Insua and Mancebo. Proton Partners kept up the pressure throughout the third with goals from Alston and Insua. During the final seconds of the fourth and final chukker, Oak Bend’s Ballard was able to convert a Penalty 3, but it was not enough to take the lead, as Proton Partners defeated Oak Bend Farm to win the Southwestern Circuit Sportsmanship Cup.
Galvin Insurance Most Valuable Player Ariel Mancebo, presented by Christopher Ballard.
The Southwestern Circuit Sportsmanship Cup lived up to its name, with all players and their equine partners leaving the field happy and healthy after a weekend of competitive play and camaraderie. Proton Partners’ Mancebo was named Most Valuable Player, which was presented by Galvin Insurance. Valor Saddles sponsored Best Playing Pony honors, which was awarded to Rayo, played by Mancebo and owned by Horsegate Ranch. Stout received the Sportsmanship Award, which was presented by Jackrabbit Tack.
Jackrabbit Tack Sportsmanship recipient Stephen Stout, pictured with Kiki Lambden-Stout.
Oak Bend Farm will host its next USPA tournament, the USPA Amateur Cup (0- to 2-goal) on Saturday, November 11 and Sunday, November 12. Captains can submit their team’s tournament entry forms at the following link: USPA Amateur Cup Entry Form. For more information on Oak Bend Farm, please visit oakbendfarm.com.
Valor Saddles Best Playing Pony Rayo, played by Ariel Mancebo and owned by Horsegate Ranch, presented by Valor Saddles’ Emilio Arratia and Lindsey Jackowiack.
*Tiamo Hudspeth and Stephanie Colburn 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.