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GOLD CUP TEAMS BARREL TOWARD FINAL BRACKET GAMES

PoloChannel Staff | 03/18/18

 

WEEKLY WRAP UP

The second leg of the 2018 U.S. triple crown is flying toward a conclusion at
International Polo Club Palm Beach. This weekend’s games will be the last bracket
play in the USPA Gold Cup® (Audi v. Flexjet). The semi-finals are next Wednesday,
March 28.


In the March 17 opening day games Tonkawa had a close-call win over Audi (10-9),
and Colorado lost to Daily Racing Form-DRF Bets in overtime (7-6). The
Colorado/Daily Racing Form game played out in a contentious tit-for- tat manner,
with the score tied or within one goal nearly the entire time. That made it exciting to
watch but nerve-wracking and undoubtedly frustrating for the players.


From Daily Racing Form captain Hilario Ulloa’s perspective, it was a must-win
situation—at least in building confidence.
“We really wanted to have a good game and beat [Colorado] because the last time
we played against them they beat us,” he said. “This game was very even, very tough.
Even though it was decided in overtime, I think we did many things well to win the
game. We kept good possession of the ball and played really well in difficult
situations.”


GILLIAN GOES INCOGNITO


Spectators did a double take when Valiente thundered onto the Engel & Volkers
stadium field for Sunday’s feature match March 18. Streaking by was a player in a
Valiente blue jersey and a Coca-Cola red helmet. Later on in the tent the same
player was wearing a Prestige Worldwide (non-Gold Cup team) baseball cap.
Identity crisis?


Not at all. Valiente borrowed Gillian Johnston (Coca-Cola patrona) for the day in
place of Valiente patron Bob Jornayvaz. Jornayvaz was on hand watching the game,
but the substitution wasn’t strategy- or injury-related. He had expected to be out of
town that day, so Johnston was recruited as his sub. Circumstances changed at the
last minute, but at that point it made sense to keep Johnston in the No. 1 blue jersey.

That decision turned out just fine. Valiente defeated a strong Flexjet team 11-8,
with two of the victor’s goals coming off Johnston’s mallet.


Valiente’s Tommy Beresford said he thoroughly enjoyed having Johnston as a
teammate. They had never played together before.


“I have met Gillian a few times, but it was great to get to know her a bit more,” said
Beresford. “She was always open for the long pass and scored some really important
goals.”


Three days later Jornayvaz was back in the No. 1 jersey for Valiente, who defeated
Colorado (his son Robert Jornayvaz’s team) 11-9 on March 22. The
Colorado/Valiente game got pretty dicey for both teams in the fifth chukker. Juano
Britos was injured, and luckily for Colorado, Santi Torres was on hand to step in. But
wait, not so fast . . .


Before he was allowed to come into the game Torres had to sit out two minutes,
through no fault of his own. The collision that had just happened between Britos and
Beresford earned each of them a yellow card. That news was a drag for both teams.
Each with a player yellow-carded, the teams had to play three against three for two
minutes. Right after the full lineups were restored, Torres ran the ball into goal,
bringing Colorado with two goals of Valiente (9-7). Torres also had the final goal of
the game, but Valiente retained the advantage to win 11-9.


Wednesday’s second game resulted in the same final score as the first, but this go-
around was a completely different animal. Daily Racing Form-DRF Bets was
unstoppable. They established dominance right away and maintained it, taking
Tonkawa 11-9. Tonkawa was trailing 6-1 at the top of the third chukker, but then
they perked up. The first half ended 8-4 for Daily Racing Form, and immediately
after halftime Sapo Caset tightened the gap to a respectable two goals (8-6). Ulloa,
however, just wasn’t going to stand for it. Game over: 11-9.


All games in the Gold Cup are live streamed on the USPA Polo Network: uspolo.org.
Article by Darlene Ricker


Photography: Liz Lamont Images and David Lominska