Remy du Celliee Muller led a stampeding young brigade to take the 2018 Pacific Coast Circuit Governor’s Cup at Eldorado Polo Club on Sunday. Boss Polo defeated Thermal 10-7, and Muller’s crucial offensive and defensive efforts at pivotal points in the final earned him the Most Valuable Player award.
His entire team is made up of teenagers and 20-somethings, with the exception of 31-year-old Jared Sheldon. Muller, who has competed with seasoned players in the Florida high-goal season, said he enjoyed playing with a young team in the 6-goal tournament.
“The Governor’s Cup was a fun game with a young, enthusiastic team,” he said. “Everyone had a good attitude, and there was a positivity that our team had throughout the tournament.” He pointed to “a youthful energy” from his teammate Bayne Bossom, a high school student. “Bayne is a teenager but carries himself like a much older player on the field. Off the field he’s playing foot mallet polo until 10 minutes before the game with a carefree attitude. It’s really fun to be on a young team like that.”
Having youthful teammates “almost helps in a way because we don’t overthink things. Our team likes to keep our game plan simple. We try to play polo easily and not complicate things. We met a lot to discuss our tactics, but we kept all our meetings short and simple so we wouldn’t confuse anyone,” said Muller.
He described Boss Polo as a “really strong, hungry team. I felt that everyone was playing right at the top of their handicap.”
Muller has played a lot with Sheldon, and the two played in the desert this January and February. They wanted to continue to play together, said Muller.
“So Jared and I worked hard to find players to complete a team with us. Jared found Lesley Tims, who is a relatively new to the sport. She’s a good rider and was really enthusiastic about playing with us. We were also fortunate to find Bayne Bossom, who plays amazing for a teenager. We got lucky that the pieces fell into place and we could put together a last-minute competitive team. Last-minute teams are not usually competitive.”
Eldorado Polo Club provided a conducive and comfortable environment for Boss Polo to prepare for the Governor’s Cup, he said.
“Eldorado has very consistent scheduling with the Thursday practices and the Saturday and Sunday games for the 6-goal, so it was really easy to schedule our games. We would meet during the week and play the weekend games, and it worked really well. It was almost too simple to do the scheduling,” he said with a laugh.
In addition, said Muller, Eldorado has everything young players need to develop their skills.
“It’s really nice staying at Eldorado and stabling there because everything you need is right at one location. I rented a house onsite at the polo club, and my horses were walking distance from my house. I could walk straight to the stick and ball field that’s open six days a week. I spend all day at the polo club doing something, whether it’s in the hitting cage or in the Cantina [restaurant] for a team meeting. Eldorado is like its own little world.”
Muller said he enjoys Eldorado’s family atmosphere. “You’re competing on the field, but everyone almost feels as though we’re all one team. You can go visit somebody at their barn, and everyone is really friendly and helps each other. I can go to Santi Trotz’s barn and ask his advice about something. There are some brilliant minds throughout the club and a lot of brains to pick and people to learn from,” he said.
Muller noted that the fields at Eldoradoimproved as the season went on.
“I was really impressed by the polo fields,” he said. “Eldorado took great care of the fields in January and February so they would be perfect for March. They let them grow a little longer than normal to protect a field a bit more. Then in March they aerated them and cut the grass shorter, and the fields played much faster. The footing was great, and that played to our advantage in the Governor’s Cup.”
Muller found the tournament challenging because with seven teams there were a lot of games. His team played four games before getting to the final, and he greatly enjoyed the four-chukker format.
“It’s exciting because in a four-chukker game anything can happen. You can have one bad chukker and lose a game or have one good chukker and win a game. So you have to really, really focus on not having a chukker where you give up a lot of goals. Often in 4- and 6-goal tournaments with a six-chukker game it can feel like it drags on and on. Four-chukker low-goal polo is a lot of fun. Everyone brings their best horses, so the quality of the play goes up.”
His most exciting moment in the Governor’s Cup final came right after halftime. His team was up 5-1 after the first chukker but went scoreless in the second, going into halftime 5-4. His most memorable moment of the game came when his team made the first goal of the third chukker.
“Jared dribbled the ball, left it for me and took out the man. I shot at goal and it went short, and then Lesley put it in for a goal. It was a really great team play—almost everyone had a piece of it. I was really excited to start the third chukker that way because it was going to double our momentum going forward.”
Muller ranks among the few young players to have won a major USPA high-goal tournament with a top team. Playing alongside 10-goaler Facundo Pieres, Muller helped Orchard Hill win the 2015 Joe Barry Cup.
“I was super excited to play for Orchard Hill. It was the opportunity of a lifetime. I felt a lot of pressure on myself to do well in a big tournament known all over the world,” said Muller.
He found himself under a different kind of pressure in the Governor’s Cup because it is a major tournament at his hometown club. He competed in it several times, but this is the first year his team won.
“I grew up at Eldorado and have played there every winter for the past nine years (with the exception of 2015 in Florida). This is the club I’ve played at the most throughout my professional life, and I consider it home, so it meant a lot to mean to me to win here,” he said.
Rosters and handicaps:
Boss Polo:Leslie Tims (-1), Bayne Bossom (0), Jared Sheldon (4), Remy Du Celliee Muller (3). Thermal: Reg Whyte (A), Mia Bray (A), Patrick Uretz (4), Felipe Sordelli (2).
Both finalist teams included players from Team USPA. Muller and Uretz are Team USPA members, and Sheldon is a senior member.
Complete game report: http://eldoradopoloclub.com/boss-polo-wins-2018-governors-cup/
Information on Eldorado Polo Club: eldoradopoloclub.com or call 760-342-2223