It was a Cambiaso kind of day at the International Polo Club, Palm Beach (IPC) on Sunday, March 26. With AC manning the controls, Valiente scuttled Coca-Cola’s mojo in the second half to take a 9-6 victory in the 2017 USPA Gold Cup® final. To cap off the day, Cambiaso was selected MVP, and a legendary horse he played, “Chocolate,” owned by J5 Equestrian, was Best-Playing Pony.
A Sunday afternoon in Wellington, Florida, doesn’t get much better than that for a team—unless, of course, it’s four weeks from now and Valiente has a déjà vu day. That would mean winning the 2017 United States Open Polo Championship, the final leg of the U.S. “Triple Crown” of polo. With the Gold Cup win, Valiente—who remains undefeated in 26-goal play this season—is two-thirds of the way there.
Best Playing Pony - Chocolate, played by Cambiaso
Sunday’s victory turned on Cambiaso’s instinctive way of knowing when to regroup and how to sort out problems between chukkers. This time he had his work cut out for him. The game started as an uphill battle for Valiente, who found themselves facing a stonewall Coca-Cola squad bent on success. Coca-Cola led all the way through the first half, which closed with Valiente trailing 5-3.
Coca-Cola was the consummate “4-man team,” which for them translates to 3 men and one woman (patrona Gillian Johnston). Every member of the red team contributed to the scoreboard: Johnston and Julio Arellano each scored once; Julian de Lusarreta and Miguel Novillo Astrada each made two goals.
Early in the fourth chukker Johnston performed one of her trademark magic tricks. She patiently stood by, watching as Cambiaso tapped the ball a few times to position it for the big hit that never happened. Johnston pounced at the perfect moment, breaking up the play and snaking the ball away from a stunned Cambiaso. She passed it to Julio Arellano, who was exactly where he needed to be. He galloped into goal with the ball while Johnston repeatedly ran Cambiaso off.
“They had us confused at first,” said Valiente patron Bob Jornayvaz. “Adolfo changed the strategy in the second half. We went to plan B, and things fell into place.”
The game seemed to morph into some kind of parallel universe as Cambiaso and Cavanagh melded into full sync. The master sent a slammer downfield to a flying Cavanagh, who finished off the play with a slick neck shot into goal to tie the game at 6. With Cambiaso weaving donuts on the field on an agile Chocolate until Cavanagh arrived at the perfect spot for the pass, the momentum swung to Valiente—where it remained for the rest of the game. Two quick goals by Cavanagh brought Valiente to an 8-6 lead.
Cavanagh was game high-scorer with six goals, all but one from the penalty line. Cambiaso scored twice (both times from the field) on the day, and Matias Torres Zavaleta sewed up the win with another goal— the only goal by either side in the sixth chukker—to win the game 9-6 for Valiente.