Darlene Ricker and Alannah Castro | 08/17/17

Colorado played their way into the 2017 Colorado Open final yesterday, defeating Hawaii Polo Life 11-10 to lock in a spot against Valiente, who was already through. In an earlier match Wednesday, which did not effect the final pairing, Valiente took Kentucky 8-5.

Adolfo Cambiaso was in high spirits after his game. Looking ahead to the final, he said, “Of course we want to win, but as long as everyone has fun playing, I’m happy. My family has had a great time in Denver, and for me the best is playing on these perfect fields at Valiente.”

With that, he went home to freshen up and came back to watch the second game of the day. It was an important contest because it would decide whether Valiente would play Colorado or Hawaii Polo Life in the final. Colorado took the win, and Cambiaso zoomed off in his golf cart with his son, Poroto, who played with him in a previous match in the tournament. They went to lunch and came back a couple hours later, stopping at Cambiaso’s row of stalls.

By then it was after 5 p.m., but Cambiaso still wasn’t done for the day. He strolled down the aisle, looked in on each of the horses, and walked into an adjoining indoor arena at Valiente that had been transformed into what looked like a smaller version of a CrossFit gym.

Clad in baggy Bermuda shorts (as were most of the rest of his teammates) and his trademark “AC” baseball cap, Cambiaso spent the next 45 minutes in a team workout session that was exhausting to even watch. “It’s tough,” he said with a nod as he ran past an onlooker, doing laps. His wife, Maria, joined in, as always, and the family dog (a stray they adopted in Wellington) wandered in and out. This is Cambiaso’s daily routine, except when he has a big game.

Meanwhile, the Colorado players spent the tail end of the day recovering from what had been a game of inches against Hawaii Polo Life. Running and gunning from the start, Pablo Spinacci put Colorado's first goal on the board within the first minute of the game. After a chukker of relentless, long-hitting polo, Juan Martín Obregon capitalized on a penalty to tie it up 1-1.

Diego Cavanagh demonstrated his ball-handling skills, sinking a goal in from close range, but Hawaii Polo Life quickly took off on a scoring spree, with Nacho Badiola and Obregon each racking up a goal. Rob Jornayvaz was on fire, making what was undoubtedly the play of the day, reaching behind his horse's legs to tap the ball through the posts at speed.

Spinacci continued to build Colorado's momentum, tallying another goal to make the score 4-3, and Hawaii Polo Life immediately put top scorer Obregon to work, putting another goal on the board.  Jornayvaz made another stellar play, sinking a 50-yard shot along the ground, and Spinacci ended the half with another goal to leave the score 6-4.

Colorado came out strong in the second half, with Jornayvaz continuing his hot streak and nailing a long cut shot to continue to pull his team ahead, and a penalty 1 meant that Colorado doubled their lead 8-4. Hawaii Polo Life rallied with a goal by Nano Gracida, but a penalty 4 shot was easy prey for Cavanagh, and Colorado continued to distance themselves 9-5.

Hawaii Polo Life played hardball in the remaining chukkers, clawing their way back from a debilitating deficit. Obregon cemented his status as a pressure player with a penalty shot, but Cavanagh hit the long ball for a goal from 90 yards out. Obregon ended the fifth with a goal announcer John Kent characterized as "pure persistence."

The team in black left it all on the field in the final chukker, with outstanding goals from the ever-reliable Tommy Collingwood and Obregon, bringing their team back within one goal of Colorado 10-9 with less than two minutes on the clock. Cavanagh hammered in a penalty shot, but Hawaii Polo Life fought to the very end, with Tommy Collingwood nailing a long shot to Obregon to end the game 11-10.

The subsidiary final between Kentucky and Hawaii Polo Life takes place Friday at 3 p.m. at Valiente Polo Farm in Littleton. The final will be at Denver Polo Club in Sedalia on Saturday at 5 p.m. The final takes place in conjunction with the 2017 Rocky Mountain Polo Festival, which features concerts and family activities from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tickets and information: polofest.com.

Complete footage of all games in the Colorado Open may be viewed daily after the games on polochannel.com. Daily game hotline: (310) 210-4004.

Photos © Polo Channel