Colorado, SD Farms Remain Unbeaten In Palm Beach Open; Sayyu Dantata MVP In Feature Game; Grand Champions Plays Flexjet Tuesday
|Audi, Colorado and SD Farms remain undefeated after eight games over four days in the Palm Beach Open.
By Sharon Robb
SD Farms (Sayyu Dantata, 2, Santi Torres, 6, Guillermo Terrera, 8, Adolfo Cambiaso, 10), making its World Polo League tournament debut, defeated Alegria (Freddie Mannix, 8, Jesse Bray, 6, Gringo Colombres, 6, Juan Martin Obregon, 5), 11-8, Sunday at Grand Champions Polo Club.
In front of a packed house, SD Farms dominated most of the game, shutting out Alegria, 3-0, in the second and fourth chukkers.
After defeating Black Watch, 16-11, in its tournament opener, and now Alegria, SD Farms looks to be the team to beat.
“I am very happy to win but to make the final, we have two more bridges to cross, we are not going to take anyone lightly,” Dantata said.
Dantata, playing above his 2-goal rating, was named Most Valuable Player. For the Nigerian polo player, it is a dream come true to play alongside the world’s greatest player, 10-goaler Adolfo Cambiaso, along with Torres and Terrera.
“It brings my game up,” Dantata said. “When you are playing with the best players you are going to improve. Anyone who plays with the king plays at least two goals above their handicap.
“This is old school polo,” Dantata said. “There is very little stoppage. This is the way polo should be.”
After playing only two games together, Cambiaso was just as impressed with Dantata.
“Sayyu is playing really well, he is a hell of a player,” Cambiaso said. “This is a four-man team. We end up well. They were a good team, they beat the Founders Cup winner (Grand Champions). We are a good team, too. I hope we make the final. Why not?”
With more horsepower and firepower, SD Farms led by as many as seven goals (11-4) in the fifth chukker.
“It was a tough game in the first half and then the fourth we scored some goals and it made a difference to the end,” Terrera said. “They were a four-pro team and we knew it was going to be a really tough game.
“Playing with Adolfo gives you more time to hit the ball well and to see a play because everyone is looking at him,” Terrera said. “If you take advantage of that it is a plus.”
Terrera led SD Farms with four goals. Torres and Cambiaso each had three goals and Dantata added one goal.
“We played awesome,” Torres said. “The horses were great, they have been great all season. Sayyu is playing great. We were four against four.”
The Grand Champions Best Playing Pony was Flow, played by Cambiaso in the fifth chukker.
The American Polo Horse Association Best Playing Pony was Medallon played by Terrera in the fourth chukker.
The APHA was created in 2006 by the legendary Polo Hall of Famer Sunny Hale to recognize polo ponies in America and encourages events that showcase them and hard-working dedication of grooms.
In the opening game of Sunday’s doubleheader, Colorado (Kian Hall, 3, Juan Martin Zubia, 7, Diego Cavanagh, 8, Jero del Carril) defeated Valiente (Bob Jornayvaz, 2, Agustin Nero, 6, Alejandro Taranco, 8, Pelon Stirling, 10), 11-10, in the battle of J5Equestrian teams to remain unbeaten with a 2-0 record.
British player Kian Hall, 20, filling in for the injured Rob Jornayvaz, led Colorado scoring with five goals, including what turned out to be the game-winner, in his 26-goal debut.
It was Hall’s first full 26-goal game after replacing Jornayvaz in the opening chukker of his team’s 8-6 win over Flexjet.
“There was lots of pressure playing Valiente but it was like playing friends because we are around them every day,” Hall said. “It was really a good win. I thank Rob for letting me play and Valiente for giving me the opportunity.”
Also for Colorado, Cavanagh had three goals, Zubia had two and Del Carril added one goal.
“It’s always fun when these teams play,” Cavanagh said. “It was a good atmosphere. We played flat out. We fouled too much at the end and we let them back in.”
Colorado had at least a one or two-goal lead throughout the game and shut out Valiente in the third and fourth chukkers to lead 7-4 after four. Valiente made it interesting in the last two chukkers outscoring Colorado, 6-4, but could get no closer than one goal as time ran out.
“They are great players and a great team and worked with each other very well,” Cavanagh said of Valiente. “It’s a pity Rob could not play but thank God we had Kian.”
Pelon Stirling scored a game-high six goals for Valiente. Taranco had three goals and Nero added one.
After a day’s rest, World Polo League action resumes on Tuesday with Grand Champions playing Flexjet at Grand Champions Polo Club’s Field One at 4 p.m.
The WPL is being live streamed on ESPN Deportes and ChukkerTV/Horseplay with Gus Whitelaw calling the action. For more information go to www.worldpolo.org.
Co-founded by Grand Champions owners Melissa and Marc Ganzi and Valiente Polo Farm owner Bob Jornayvaz, the World Polo League is the only 26-goal polo in the world outside of Argentina. The WPL is preserving the highest level of polo and its rich, hallowed tradition in the U.S.
The WPL has its own set of simpler fan-friendly rules to improve the flow and action of the game.
The WPL, with 14 tournament-quality fields to play on, includes the All-Star Challenge Draw Tournament, Founders Cup, Palm Beach Open and Triple Crown of Polo.
The World Polo League is open to other teams that wish to compete in one or more of the tournaments. Games are offered on the flat (Open) and on Handicap.
The World Polo League has attracted a large international field of players from all corners of the world including Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Nigeria, Uruguay and U.S.
Grand Champions and Valiente are also launching the U.S. National Mixed Doubles Championship, featuring two men and two women with combined handicaps, in March.
In addition to the World Polo League, season highlights for 2019 at Grand Champions are the Sterling Cup, $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament, John T. Oxley Memorial and $100,000 World Cup Tournament, a unique 0-40-goal, winner-take-all single-elimination tournament and WCT Final.
Grand Champions and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique polo facility in Wellington with 120 stalls in five self-contained barns, exercise track, five climate-controlled tack rooms, vet room, staff quarters, guest house and three polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation including one field for stick-and-ball with plans to build more polo fields in the future.