The final of the Polo Challenge Gold Cup was played at Casa de Campo, in the Dominican Republic, on Saturday, 20 March 2016. The Gold Cup is the third of four tournaments that make up the Polo Challenge series.
Lechuza, the team composed of Victor and Alfredo Vargas, and ten-goal La Dolfina superstars Juan Martin Nero and David Stirling, have maintained an incredible unbeaten record throughout the season, despite coming up against some great opponents. And now the team has claimed the Gold Cup title, after their previous Bronze and Silver Cup wins.
The final week kicked off with the subsidiary semifinal between Pitirre and La Carbuccia at Lechuza Caracas RD. La Carbuccia won the game 8-6 thanks to four goals by Bete Donovan and goals from each of the other team members. Next up, Casa de Campo hosted the main semifinal between Los Samanes and Lechuza. All four Samanes members worked hard to secure a spot in Saturday’s final. However, Lechuza overwhelmed their opponents thanks to their teamwork and dynamic ten-goalers; they won the match 10-7 and secured a place in the final.
The second subsidiary, between Casa de Campo and Agualinda, was played on Thursday. The local team managed to claim the win in part due to their two goal handicap advantage. Benjamin Araya was named Most Valuable Player. The awaited second semifinal, between Los Establos and Cinque Terre was held at Casa de Campo later that day. It was a tense meeting between two strong teams. Jose Donoso replaced Marambio in Los Establos, but Cinque Terre still managed to shine and win the game 7-5. Ale Muzzio was named Most Valuable Player and Cinque Terre earned the last spot in the final.
Casa de Campo made sure the last day of the Gold Cup began with a bang as guests enjoyed a parade of local “paso Higüeyano” horses before the games. Then La Carbuccia and Casa de Campo took to the field to play the subsidiary final. Both Tomas Pieres and Zorrilla took tumbles while Donovan got sent off for dangerous play. The final score was 10-8 to La Carbuccia. Juan Jose Brane was named Most Valuable Player.
The big Gold Cup final was up next. Cinque Terre put up a brave fight, but Lechuza proved superior in every way. Lechuza began the game with two goals from Victor Vargas. Ignacio Novillo Astrada replied with one. Lechuza doubled their score in the second chukka thanks to two quick goals by Nero. Novillo replied once again scoring one. Cinque Terre made progress in the fourth as they managed to contain their opponents a bit more, but failed to score. The sixth and final chukka came around and Nero and Novillo exchanged goals, but it was Alfredo who scored the last goal to seal Lechuza’s 9-4 victory. Nero was named Most Valuable Player. The day came to an end with a Stella Artois after polo party with a performance by Chantal del Pino.
The Caribbean Open, a 26-goal four day tournament, kicks off today. The tournament marks the last of the Polo Challenge series.