By Sharon Robb
WELLINGTON, Fl., March 20, 2018--Travieso opened the John T. Oxley Memorial Tournament Monday with a hardfought win over Palm Beach Polo at Grand Champions Polo Club.
Travieso (Teo Calle, Tony Calle, Sebastian Merlos, Tomas Garcia del Rio), playing well as a team, defeated Palm Beach Polo (Henry Porter, Santino Magrini, Magoo Laprida, Gringo Colombres), 13-10.
Travieso led the opening two chukkers, 3-1 and 4-3, before Palm Beach Polo reeled them back in behind Laprida's three goals to tie the game 6-6 at halftime.
Travieso came back with a big 3-0 fourth quarter for a 9-6 lead and never relinquished the lead keeping at least a two-goal margin for the remainder of the game. Travieso led by as many as four goals, 10-6 and 11-7, in the fifth chukker.
"We were very concerned about this team," Teo Calle said. "It's a big team. Henry Porter is probably having the best year of his life so far. He is by far a 4- or 5-goal player. It was difficult for us to mark him.
"We knew we had to play over our handicap. We tried very hard. When you try and concentrate sometimes things work a little better than you expect and you get a win. We were able to make some plays that are normally hard for us. The field played really well. It's probably one of the best fields in Wellington. The horses are doing incredibly. We are very happy."
Tomas Garcia del Rio led Travieso with a team-high six goals. Merlos added three and father and son Teo and Tony Calle each had two goals.
This year the Calles are playing together on the same 20-goal team for the first time and enjoying every minute. The Calles have played in the 8-, 12- and 16-goal leagues at Grand Champions where the team started four years ago.
"It's been a great experience," Teo Calle said. "Playing with my son has been one of the dreams of the family and myself. To watch your son begin to play. In the beginning, I was teaching him, now I think he is teaching me."
Tony Calle, a senior at Lynn University, and rising young star in the sport, is enjoying playing with his father just as much. In the fourth chukker with 1:19 left, Teo Calle connected on a pass to Tony Calle for a goal and 9-6 lead.
The two have developed a chemistry on the field and work well with Merlos and Garcia del Rio.
"Sometimes we know what each other is going to do before we even get to the ball," Tony Calle said. "I told him to turn the ball and I knew he wasn't going to listen to me and he hit a back shot. I was able to fool the defender, got the pass and score. It was just from playing so much together.
"Our goal was to come to Florida and work up to be able to play together on a high goal team," Tony Calle said. "It's special because it took a lot of effort with the horses, every day in the barn, getting the right staff and bringing our polo level up. It was really hard and it's very satisfying to win and play at this level."
Travieso was coming off a loss to Valiente in the Sterling Cup semifinals.
"We think that this can be our tournament," Calle said. "We are playing well and our horses are performing well. So hopefully we can keep the momentum going."
Palm Beach Polo was led by Laprida with a game-high seven goals. Porter added two and Colombres had one goal.
Palm Beach Polo, with one game under its belt, will try and rebound on Thursday morning at 10 a.m. against Dutta Corp (Tim Dutta, Timmy Dutta, Piki Diaz Alberdi, Matias Magrini). Travieso's next game is March 26 at 10 a.m. against Dutta Corp.
The John T. Oxley Memorial, the club's second 16-20-goal tournament of the winter season, features six teams competing over two weeks.
The last John T. Oxley Memorial tournament winner was Postage Stamp Farm in March 2016. The foursome of Annabelle Gundlach, Tommy Collingwood, Brandon Phillips and MVP Jeff Blake defeated Dutta Corp (Timmy Dutta, Mariano Gracida, Carlitos Gracida, Piki Diaz Alberdi), 7-5. It was the new team's first 16-20 goal tournament win.
John T. Oxley was a pioneer in polo. The founder of the now-defunct Royal Palm Polo Sports Club in Boca Raton played polo well into his 80s. He started playing at age 46 and won the U.S. Open twice, Sunshine League, Rolex Gold Cup, Monty Waterbury and Silver Cup.
At age 83, Oxley became the oldest player ever to win a major polo event when his team won the International Gold Cup. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1994. Oxley died of a heart attack at his summer home in Tulsa, Okla. in 1996. He was 87.
Oxley saw his first polo match as a youth in Tulsa while courting Mary, the woman who became his wife. The two often rode horseback together and were married in 1935. Mrs. Oxley, known locally as the "first lady of polo," died in 1987 of a stroke.
"[Polo) requires 100 percent concentration and keeps you fit physically and mentally," Oxley said in a 1992 interview. "There's no sport that requires the timing this sport requires. It's an anticipation type of game. You don't wait till the play's made, then try to make it."
Wellington-based ChukkerTV, leaders in polo broadcasting, is live streaming the entire John T. Oxley Memorial.
Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique private 100-acre polo facility in Wellington with 120 stalls in five self-contained barns, exercise track, five climate-controlled tack rooms, vet room, staff quarters, guest house and polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation and stick-and-ball fields.
During fall, winter and spring seasons, Grand Champions Polo Club, the nation's largest club with 11 well-manicured fields, hosts polo tournaments ranging from six to 26-goal in addition to special events.
The club features monthly 6, 8 and 12-goal tournaments and women's weekly league play during the winter season in addition to two 16-20 tournaments, $50,000 National 12 Goal, $100,000 World Cup winner-take-all 0-40-goal tournament, WCT Tournament and USPA National President's Cup.
During the 2017 winter season Grand Champions attracted a record 72 teams and another 18 teams during the spring season.
Grand Champions caters to men, women and youth polo players at all levels. Its expert staff can customize a complete playing experience including horses, pros and certified umpires in addition to lessons and practice sessions as part of its' Polo On Demand program, the only polo club in the U.S. to offer the unique program.
The Club Hotline is 561-644-5050. It will be updated every day at 8 a.m. for both players and fans