WELLINGTON, Fl., April 30, 2018---Sebucan dominated the USPA Eastern Challenge championship final from start-to-finish to capture the prestigious title Sundayat Santa Rita Polo Farm.
Playing together for the first time as a team, Timmy Dutta, 1, Pablo Pulido, 2, Lucas Diaz Alberdi, 5, and Juan Martin Obregon, 5, defeated ChukkerTV (Josh DuBarry, 0, Piki Diaz Alberdi, 7, Pablo Dorignac, 5, Julio Gracida, 4), 16-9.
Pablo Pulido, playing well above his two-goal rating, was named Most Valuable Player. Pulido, a former collegiate player at Cornell, scored four goals and was one of the most dominant players on the field. It was Pulido's first MVP award since October 2017 when Sebucan knocked off Casablanca to win the USPA Fall Plates tournament during the fall season at Grand Champions.
Cupid, a 5-year-old owned and played by Julio Gracida in the third chukker, was selected Best Playing Pony.
At 13-goals, Sebucan entered the final as the underdog after two close one-goal victories over Newport and Chateau D'esclans in the round robin qualifier on Saturday.
Sebucan started with a 3-0 lead on handicap and quickly built 6-1 and 7-2 cushions after two chukkers. Chukker TV cut Sebucan's lead to two behind Gracida's clutch penalty conversions to trail 8-6 at the half but could get no closer.
The second half Sebucan regained its momentum and offensive running attack to extend its lead to 13-7 after the fifth chukker.
"They were a very tough team with very strong players," Pulido said. "We just kept on playing. We kept on rotating all the players going in. We all played the ball and scoring the goals and that made the difference.
"It was just our team's grit and our day," Pulido said. "Everybody just kept on going and going the whole time. That helped out and of course me making it to the end of the line making goals made a difference."
While Pulido was hoping the team could stay together his three teammates are going their separate ways. Timmy Dutta and Lucas Diaz Alberdi will join their fathers Tim Dutta and Piki Diaz Alberdi on Dutta Corp for this week's tournament and Juan Martin Obregon heads for Aiken, S.C. for the May 2-20 Pete Boswick Memorial 12-goal at New Bridge Polo Club. Obregon will join Tristan Hurley, Sayyu Dantata and Peco Polledo on SD Farms.
Timmy Dutta, 16, the second youngest player in the final, scored a game-high five goals. In addition to Pulido's four goals, Juan Martin Obregon added three goals and Lucas Diaz Alberdi had one goal.
Julio Gracida led ChukkerTV with four goals, Piki Diaz Alberdi had three, DuBarry scored two and Dorignac added one.
At 12, DuBarry was the youngest player on the field and in the six-team tournament.
"I've scored in games before but these were my first ones here today," DuBarry said. "They were a strong team. It was good and it was tough but good experience for me. It was super fun. I've been playing my whole life. The first time I was on a horse I was six months old."
Timmy Dutta was a runner-up in last year's USPA Eastern Challenge final when Clearwater rallied in the second half to defeat Dutta Corp, 12-10, in the final. Dutta Corp (Timmy Dutta, Kris Kampsen, Piki Diaz Alberdi,Tim Dutta), also a 13-goal team, started with a four-goal lead against 17-goal Clearwater (Chip Campbell, Michael Bickford, Ezequiel Ferrario, Jeff Hall) and led until the second half.
"I'm happy Pablo was MVP, it was good to play with him and fun," Dutta said. "For a 13-goal team with this kind of chemistry I think it's just playing polo. I've been playing for four years and learned a lot. Playing against Piki was very interesting."
The student and coach challenged each other throughout the game. Dutta has played with and aganst Piki and Lucas Diaz Alberdi in Wellington and Argentina.
"That was fun," Dutta said. "We play every day in Argentina so I am beginning to learn his tricks now. To play with Lucas is always fun, he is like my brother. Today there was rivalry of course. Piki does not like to lose, not even practices."
Dutta got the opportunity to play one of his youngest horses in the first chukker.
"It helped to start with a 3-0 lead because I got to play my young one in the first chukker," Dutta said. "I knew we had three goals and some time to spare and we put two more on the board and started working."
In the Aspen Valley Polo Cup subsidiary game Chateau D'esclans (Tony Calle, 3, Juancito Bollini, 4, Grant Ganzi, 2, Carlitos Gracida, 4) won the title. Ashley Busch of Altair Polo was MVP after scoring four goals against Newport and Chateau D'esclans. Busch then left cheer on husband Kurt at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
The U.S. Polo Association (USPA) was organized and exists for the purposes of promoting the game of polo, coordinating the activities of its member clubs and registered players, arranging and supervising polo tournaments, competitions and games, and providing rules, handicaps and conditions for those tournaments, competitions and games including the safety and welfare of participants and mounts.
Founded in 1890, the USPA is the national governing body for the sport of polo. USPA is currently comprised of almost 300 member clubs including Grand Champions, The Polo School and Aspen Valley Polo Club, with thousands of individual members, and oversees 40 national tournaments. For more information or how to join, go to uspolo.org.
Grand Champions is in the midst of its six-tournament spring season. Several top and up-and-coming players and patrons compete during the fun and competitive GCPC Spring Invitational League that features six 12-16-goal tournaments in April and May.
During the Grand Champions’ spring season, amateur polo players get the chance to play with and against some of the world’s top professional polo players.
The spring season is being live-streamed by Wellington-based ChukkerTV.
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 10 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, Sunny Hale's Legacy WCT Final 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.
2018 Spring Schedule
(Subject to change because of weather and scheduling conflicts).
May 4-6: USPA Sun Cup
May 11-13: The Spring Challenge Cup
May 18-20: Polo Gear Invitational
May 25-28: The Memorial