U.S. Open Polo Championship Final
An Electrifying Close of the 2016 Polo Season
The culmination of 17 weeks of high-goal winter polo at the International Polo Club (IPC) came to a thrilling finish with the final match of the U.S. Open Polo Championship® on Sunday, April 24. It was an adrenaline-pumping lineup of star power and horsepower, with Orchard Hill defeating Dubai, 13-12, in a white-knuckle match. Both teams exchanged goals throughout the six, action-packed chukkers. Facundo Pieres scored a masterful overtime winning goal, cinching the victory for Orchard Hill in front of a jubilant, sold-out crowd.
The Orchard Hill team, consisting of Steve Van Andel, Facundo Pieres, Julian de Lusarreta, and Juan Martin Nero, was awarded the prestigious U.S. Open Polo Championship trophy at the tournament presentation, where thousands of fans cheered and whistled. Pieres led the field in scoring for the day with 11 goals, and was named MVP for his spectacular efforts.
2016 Season Grand Finale Festivities at the International Polo Club
It was a day that memories are made of. Prior to the start of the match, the magnificent silver perpetual challenge trophy, created in 1910, was dramatically delivered by helicopter to the center of Championship Field.
“Polo awes with its combination of beauty, power, and competitive team work,” said John Wash, president of the International Polo Club Palm Beach. “We are honored that the USPA has entrusted us with presenting North America’s most prestigious tournament for 12 consecutive years.” Touted as the Super Bowl of polo, the U.S. Open Polo Championship is a four-week, 26-goal tournament that is the highlight of the International Polo Club’s polo season.
Actress Bo Derek, known for her iconic role in 10, and a staunch advocate for horse rescue efforts throughout the U.S., performed the coin toss. The elite polo teams paraded around the field with banners and flags to the delight of the polo fans who filled the stadium and the lavish Sunday brunch at The Pavilion. Tailgate tents hosted lively parties and were overflowing with guests and buffets.
Head-turning Fashion Meets Stylish Hat Couture
Elegance and glamour is the name of the game for Sunday polo fashionistas, and exquisite style competed for the title of “sport of the day.” Sunday’s match elevated hatty style to new heights that would have made the ladies of the Kentucky Derby envious. Delicate, frothy lace concoctions, feathered style setters, and bejeweled dazzlers signaled to onlookers that this was certainly a special occasion.
High-Scoring Gillian Johnston Wins Sentient Jet Challenge
Sentient Jet, the exclusive, private aviation partner for the 2016 polo season at IPC, sponsored the Sentient Jet Challenge, which offered a $10,000 Jet Card to the patron scoring the most goals during the 26-goal tournament months of March and April. Coca-Cola patron, Gillian Johnston, led the field of high-goal team patrons throughout the high-goal matches. Johnston was all smiles as she accepted the Jet Card prize from Kirsten LaMotte, vice president, partnerships and events for Sentient Jet.
Supercharged After-Party Celebration
The International Polo Club threw open its doors to members and guests to celebrate the season finale and the exciting victory of the U.S. Open Polo Championship. In a revolving mix of contemporary rock and reggae music, the entertainment poolside at the Mallet Grille kept more than 2,000 guests dancing and swaying to the vibrant beat. Costumed acrobats paraded around the chic pool and patio area, dancers performed gravity-defying stunts, and guests enjoyed a sumptuous, asado-style barbecue. Members of the Orchard Hill polo team were tossed into the pool, along with their grooms and trainers, while fireworks filled the sky. Across the field, the 10,000-square-foot Pavilion rocked the “see and be seen” party with celebrity DJ Adam Lipson, along with Vanilla Ice; Mo and Sally, radio personalities from KOOL 105.5’s weekday morning show; Josh Cohen, ESPN 106.3’s radio host; and local TV broadcast celebrities.