Oak Brook Polo Club and Chicago Polo Association hosted its last match of the 2020 summer polo season on Sunday, September 27th with the finals of the USPA Butler International Cup presented by Merrill Lynch.   In front of a sold out and socially distanced crowd, the United States defeated Argentina 13-12, in the finals of the ten-day tournament where teams representing the United States, Argentina, Germany and Switzerland have been competing for a chance to engrave their name on the prestigious cup.  Team rosters were as follows:

United States (3-1)
Champion
Mariano Gutierrez (4)
Tomas “Toto” Obregon (4)
Horacio Onetto (4)
Jim Drury (0)

Argentina (3-1)
Runner-Up
Larry Aschebrook (0)
Juan Martin Gutierrez (3)
Juan Martin Obregon (5)
Matias Obregon (4)

Switzerland (1-3)
Richard Harris (0)
Pedro Manion (3)
Facundo Obregon (6)
Miguel Gutierrez (3)

Germany (1-3)
Frauke Lueders (0)
Jan Lueders (0)
Anthony Garcia (5)
Mariano Obregon (7)

 

Argentina led the entire tournament winning each of its three preliminary matches, including the first match against the United States. Results of the 2020 USPA Butler International Cup tournament matches are below:

Friday, September 18th:             
Argentina (8) def. United States (7)

Friday, September 18th:             
Switzerland (8) def. Germany (4)

Sunday, September 20th:            
Argentina (9) def. Germany (7)

Sunday, September 20th:             
United States (7) def. Switzerland (6)

Wednesday, September 23rd:    
United States (13) def. Germany (10)

Wednesday, September 23rd:    
Argentina (13) def. Switzerland (10)

Friday, September 25th:             
Consolation – Germany (8) def. Switzerland (5)

Sunday, September 27th:            
Championship – United States (13) def. Argentina (12)

 

The trophy was first played for in 1986 between Oak Brook and HRH Prince Charles’s Wales Polo Team.  In response to this year’s enormous interest from international teams wanting to visit Oak Brook combined with the demand for tournament level competition, the Butler International Cup was transformed into a 12-Goal United States Polo Association (USPA) Nationally Sanctioned tournament.  Prior to the 2020 Season, the tournament had commitments from teams representing six countries (United States, Canada, Jamaica, Wales, Switzerland and Argentina), however, due to COVID-19, travel restrictions and quarantine mandates, players traveling from multiple countries overseas were forced to cancel their participation.

“We knew this would be our most intense match of the season,” explains Jim Drury, President of Oak Brook Polo Club.  “As the US team, we hoped to defend possession of The Butler International Cup. After losing our first match to Argentina. we were in a hole.  To win the Cup, we would have to defeat each of the other countries in the final matches. Being able to hold the trophy at the end – was indeed a proud moment!”

The Championship match was held as Oak Brook’s historic Prince of Wales Field and began with opening festivities including the traditional team parade led by Ronald Vassar in a 2020 Corvette Stingray and Mark Weidman in a 1986 Mercedes-Benz convertible.  Passengers included Reute Butler, President of the Friends of Conservation and granddaughter of Oak Brook Polo Club’s founder, Paul Butler, as well as Monica Patankar, Miss Illinois for America 2019.   Prior to the introduction of players and ball roll-in, Oak Brook Polo Club President Jim Drury welcomed spectators followed by the Argentine anthem and United States anthem performed by The Singing Men of Oak Brook.

The first chukker got off to a quick start as both teams were competing to get on the scoreboard first and take an advanced lead. The United States’ Horacio Onetto claimed the first goal of the match, but Argentina’s Juan Martin Gutierrez answered back. Onetto would score again for the U.S. only for Argentina’s Juan Martin Obregon to return the favor and end the first chukker tied at 2-2. In the second chukker, Argentina’s J.M. Obregon would give the lead his team was looking for by putting up two goals for 4-2 lead. U.S.’s Onetto would go on to score his third goal, but J.M. Obregon would hold Argentina’s lead of two points and end the second chukker 5-3. In the third chukker, J.M. Obregon would extend the Argentine team’s lead to three, but U.S.’s Onetto would close that gap with two back-to-back goals to end the first half 6-5, Argentina.

In the fourth chukker, Onetto and teammate Mariano Gutierrez would go on to score four goals while putting on an impressive display of defense, along with Tomas Obregon and Jim Drury, to keep Argentina scoreless and take the lead ending the fourth chukker 9-6.  But the U.S. was caught off guard in the fifth chukker as Argentina proved that they were a worthy opponent. Argentina’s J.M. Obregon would go on a four-goal streak to catch up and reclaim his team’s lead at 10-9.   U.S.’s Onetto would re-tie the match 10-10, but Argentina’s J.M. Gutierrez would snatch that away, followed by another goal from U.S.’s Onetto tying it 11-11. I in the sixth and final chukker, it was anyone’s match.  Spectators were on the edge of their seats witnessing the best polo play all season. Argentina’s J.M. Obregon would score the first goal of the chukker and give his team a one goal lead at 12-11. After scoring ten goals for his team, Onetto would give the reins to his teammate, Gutierrez who would go on to help tie and score the winning goal for the U.S. to end the match 13-12.

Following a special thank you and season ending remarks by Gopal Lalmalani, President for the Village of Oak Brook, the awards ceremony began. Casablanca Polo’s “Most Valuable Player” was presented by Monica Patankar to Horacio Onetto for his impressive ten goals. Casablanca Polo’s “Best Playing Pony” was presented by Sheryl Srivastava to Chick, owned by Onetto.  Runner-up trophies and gifts were presented by Chicago Tribune’s RaMeka Johnson and Tatiana Rybka, while the winners’ trophies and Butler International Cup were presented by Reute Butler.  Butler also made a special presentation and awarded gifts to Jim & Peggy Drury, and Danny O’Leary for their continued support of the Friends of Conservation.

Oak Brook Polo Club is located at 2606 York Road, seventeen miles from downtown Chicago. For general information, event scheduling, and parking directions, please call 630.368.5095 or visit www.oakbrookpoloclub.com.

 

Photos by Judith Coleman