“The Weekly Buzz” keeps you up to date on major polo happenings worldwide. This week we feature action from important tournaments in the United States, Argentina and Dubai.
US OPEN: NERO SAVES THE DAY
Two spitfire games Sunday at International Polo Club Palm Beach determined the pairings for the 2018 U.S. Open Polo Championship® this Wednesday, April 18: Flexjet v. Valiente and Daily Racing Form v. U.S. Polo Assn. (Valiente and DRF got byes into the semis.)
That’s the “what happened” in Wellington last week; now here’s the “so what?” All you really need to know are the three words that were on the lips of anyone who witnessed Sunday’s feature match at IPC: Juan Martín Nero.
A dazzling 10-goal player, Nero finished the day as MVP and his horse, Micah, picked up BPP honors. In dervish style Nero made eight goals (all but one of his team’s total nine) and matched the entire scoring output of the opposing team. In the last 16 seconds of regulation time he converted a 60-yd penalty to give U.S. Polo Assn. a 9-8 victory over Colorado. All in all both teams performed remarkably well in their first-ever U.S. Open seasons.
Sunday’s other quarterfinal was equally scintillating, culminating in a 13-12 overtime win for Flexjet. A “power couple” carried the scoring for each team, with three of those four players sharing the same surname (yes, it starts with a P). Flexjet’s Pieres brigade (Gonzalito and Nico) contributed five goals apiece, while Polito Pieres and Nic Roldan made five and six goals respectively for Audi.
There was a big difference between the scoring patterns in yesterday’s two games. Except for a few minutes in the third chukker, Colorado remained tied or within one goal of U.S. Polo Assn. all afternoon. The Audi-Flexjet confrontation flipped from Audi ahead by three at halftime (6-3) to Flexjet leading by four at the end of the fifth chukker (12-8). Audi went full jersey in the sixth and held a stunned Flexjet scoreless to tie the game at 12, but Nico Pieres (consistently amazing all season) made the winning goal from the field in OT.
HABTOOR POLO WINS DUBAI CUP FINAL
The 2018 Dubai Polo Gold Cup Series concluded Friday, April 13 at the Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club. Habtoor Polo took the Dubai Cup trophy with a victory (9.5 goals) over Bin Drai Polo (7). Bin Drai was hot off their win in the Julius Baer Gold Cup 2018 final.
The Dubai Cup final was tenacious, with Habtoor Polo establishing dominance early on. The last chukker saw Bin Drai Polo catching up big-time, but Habtoor Polo took back the game and made two amazing goals to secure the trophy.
“We are extremely happy to have won the last tournament of the Dubai Polo Gold Cup Series,” said Mohammed Al Habtoor, patron of Habtoor Polo. “I would like to thank everyone who has participated in it thus far. Without you patrons and teams we would have not reached this level of polo in the UAE.”
LA DOLFINA BRAVA WINS COPA REPÚBLICA ARGENTINA
As high-goal polo in Florida and Dubai wraps up for 2018, Argentina continues to rip into its fall season. The Copa República Argentina final on Monday, April 16 made for a quick turnaround for the finalist teams, both hot off their semifinal wins just two days before. La Dolfina Brava defeated Chapaleufú Escorihuela Melicurá 14-13 in the final.
Chapaleufú started with nine goals on handicap because their team total was 16 and La Dolfina Brava’s 25. Ten-goaler David Stirling made 10 of La Dolfina Brava’s goals (six from the penalty line).
Two other important tournament finals were also played Monday. The Copa Diario La Nación final was decided in overtime 11-10, with Javier Guerrero (h) making the golden goal for Tequel Malal, who defeated San Francisco de Asís. In the Copa Canadá final La Violeta toppled Don Alejandro 21-11.
Written by: Darlene Ricker
Photography: Liz Lamont Images (U.S. Open and cover photo); Matías Callejo (Copa República Argentina); Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club (Dubai Cup).