Just like other clubs around the world, Santa Barbara Polo Club in Carpinteria, California, began its high-goal season with state and local restrictions. The club was closed to the public throughout the season, with empty grandstands a an ominous reminder of the global pandemic. This didn’t stop the players from bringing their A games and their best horses. Spectators relied on Global Polo TV to get their fix.

Just like other clubs around the world, Santa Barbara Polo Club in Carpinteria, California, began its high-goal season with state and local restrictions. The club was closed to the public throughout the season, with empty grandstands a an ominous reminder of the global pandemic. This didn’t stop the players from bringing their A games and their best horses. Spectators relied on Global Polo TV to get their fix.

Antelope
Grant Palmer
Matt Coppola
A. Bigatti/Gringo Colombres
Santiago Trotz
16
0
4
8
4
 
Bensoleimani.com
Ben Soleimani
Jason Crowder
Iñaki Laprida
Remy Muller
16
0
6
7
3
 

Dundas
Sarah Siegel-Magness
Mariano Fassetta
Santiago Torres
Roberto Zedda

16
0
4
7
5
 
Farmers & Merchants Bank
Danny Walker
Lucas Criado
Felipe Vercellino
Alonso Cruz
16
2
7
6
1
 
FMB Too!
Joaquin Avendaño
Felipe Marquez
Santiago Wulff
Henry Walker
16
3
6
5
2
 
Klentner Ranch
Marcos Alberdi
Geronimo Obregon
Jesse Bray
Justin Klentner
16
4
5
6
1
 
Lucchese
Nico Escobar
Facundo Obregon
Jeff Hall
John Muse
16
4
6
6
0
 
Santa Clara
Lucas Escobar
Luis Escobar/Luquitas Criado
Santiago Toccalino
Francisco Escobar
16
3
4/3
8
1
 
     

Dating back to 1900 (first called the Junior Cup, then the Twenty Goal), the USPA Silver Cup returned to Santa Barbara after a three-year stint in Greenwich. It was played July 24-Aug. 9, with eight 16-goal teams divided into two brackets in contention. First round winners included Dundas, Farmers & Merchants Bank, FMB Too! and Lucchese. FMB Too! and Lucchese carried their momentum into the second round, while Santa Clara and Antelope counted their first wins.

FMB Too! continued undefeated in the third round, while Klentner counted its first win. Farmers & Merchants handed Lucchese its first loss, while Antelope added another win.

Bensoleimani.com picked up its first win in the fourth round, while Antelope, Farmers & Merchants, and Lucchese added wins.

Four teams had 3-1 records: Antelope, Farmers & Merchants Bank, Lucchese and FMB Too! All advanced to the semifinals, while the remaining teams, all with 1-3 records, moved into the consolation U.S. Polo Assn. America Cup semifinal.

In the Silver Cup semifinals, Antelope narrowly advanced over Farmers & Merchants, 9-8, while Lucchese edged FMB Too!, 12-11. Antelope and Lucchese would meet in the final two days later.

Antelope had seen its biggest talent, 8-goaler Alfredo Bigatti, get hurt in the first preliminary match so it had been making adjustments throughout the tournament. Gringo Colombres was in the irons for him in the final, joining Grant Palmer, Matt Coppola and Santi Trotz.

On the other side, Nico Escobar, Jeff Hall, Facundo Obregon and John Muse lined up for Lucchese.

Antelope benefited from a pair of Penalty 2s early in the first, which Coppola easily converted. Hall stole the ball from Colombres and sent it through the goal to put Lucchese on the board and Obregon followed with a Penalty 3 conversion. Colombres put Antelope out front, 3-2, tapping a bouncing ball to goal with a minute on the clock.

The second chukker began with a Penalty 3 awarded to Lucchese, which Obregon converted to level the match once again. Trotz converted a Penalty 3 of his own a minute later. Coppola converted a Penalty 2, then got by a hook to slip the ball in the goal, doubling up Lucchese, 6-3. Escobar got Lucchese back in the game with two in a row, the last a belly shot after slipping a hook by Trotz.

Lucchese turned the tables in the third. A Penalty 1 in favor of Lucchese knotted the score, 6-6, to open the chukker. Less than a minute later, Escobar defended a Trotz knock-in, backing the ball with a perfect shot to goal. Colombres missed a back shot in the goal mouth, allowing the ball to slip through the posts. With less than a minute in the half, Obregon converted a Penalty 2 then Hall sent a nearside shot through the goal for a solid 9-6 lead.

Antelope worked hard on a comeback, and a high Penalty 4 conversion straight through the posts by Trotz in the first 15 seconds of the fourth got them off to a great start. A minute later, Palmer sent a perfect nearside to goal despite pressure from Muse, to cut the deficit to just one, 9-8. Obregon tapped the ball into the goal in traffic that brought down the goal post. He followed a minute later, getting past Trotz and sending the ball into the goal. Hall added another, tapping the ball out of the air at speed to make the difference four, 12-8. With just a minute on clock, Colombres muscled past his opponents and took the ball to goal, but it bounced just outside the posts.

The teams battled into the fifth, with no goals scored until the 3-minute mark when Coppola hit the sweet spot. Both teams were unable to convert Penalty 4 conversions. Finally, Coppola passed to an unmarked Trotz for the score, cutting the deficit to two, 12-10. With just 30 seconds in the chukker, Obregon and Colombres were in a sword fight along the boards, but Colombres caught the umpires’ whistles. A Penalty 3 was moved to a 2 after Colombres was given a yellow card. Obregon converted the shot to give Luccesse a three-goal lead into the final chukker.

A Penalty 2 for Antelope early in the sixth put the team closer but Hall negated it halfway through the chukker. The teams kept battling but with just over a minute left, Hall and Colombres collided, sending Hall and his horse to the ground. After a brief moment to catch his breath, Hall continued for the final minute, but later learned he had a concussion, which kept him out of play for the Pacific Coast Open. Meanwhile, Colombres was given another yellow and Lucchese was awarded a Penalty 2, which Escobar easily slipped between the posts. It was the final nail in the coffin as Lucchese took the 15-11 win.

Nico Escobar was named MVP and Hall’s Twiggy was Best Playing Pony. The 8-year-old steel gray Twiggy was trained by Australian Ruki Ballieu. Hall said she is very quick and handy with plenty of speed.

In addition to the trophies, Lucchese received $2,500 from the USPA’s COVID-19 stimulus package prize money.

It was the ninth Silver Cup title for Hall, if you count 2006 when he played in three preliminary games to make it to the final in Houston, Texas. The final was rained out and was played at International Polo Club in Florida on March 25, 2007. Isla Carroll took the win, however Hall was unable to play the final game.

The same day in the America Cup final, Santa Clara overcame Klentner, 10-7. Eight-goal Santi Toccalino led the Escobar family team with brothers Luis and Federico Escobar and Luis’ 17-year-old son, Lucas.

Klentner led the match 2-1 after the first 14 minutes. The teams knotted the match at 4-4 going into the half. Klentner gained a narrow 5-4 advantage in the fourth but Santa Clara tied the match with the most exciting play of the day. Luis Escobar passed to his son, who ran to goal with a hard-riding Alberdi fighting to stay with him. Lucas’ nearside neck shot split the posts for the tie. Some back and forth between the teams ended the chukker with Santa Clara sporting a 7-6 lead.

The final chukker went to Santa Clara as it eventually took a four-goal lead. A Penalty 4 from Bray late in the chukker brought Klentner closer but it wasn’t enough and Santa Clara had the title.

Lucas Escobar was named MVP and Luis Escobar’s Scar, a 9-year-old appendix mare, was Best Playing Pony.

It was a great day for the Escobar family as both boys were named MVPs and the family team had a big win.

Santa Clara and Klentner Ranch met again in the Pacific Coast Open final. Both teams were 3-1 going into the semi-finals, Santa Clara’s only loss to Klentner Ranch. Klentner edged Antelope in the semis, while Santa Clara beat bensoleimani.com.

Santi Toccalino and Lucas Escobar had won the Pacific Coast Open with Farmers & Merchants Bank last year and were hoping for a repeat.

While it was the same teams as the America Cup, it was a different game with both teams having improved. Santa Clara’s Luis Escobar was injured in an earlier game and was replaced by 3-goal Luquitas Criado in the final.

Alberdi shot first but the ball went wide. Toccalino put the first tally on the board two minutes into the first chukker. Later, Bray dropped a pass for Klentner in front of the goal, needing just a touch for the tally. A Penalty 2 conversion by Obregon just before the horn gave Klentner a slight lead. Toccalino tied the match with a Penalty 3 conversion in the second but Obregon and Bray found the mark to give Klentner the 4-2 lead. Toccalino tied the match in the third and Lucas Escobar traded goals with Klentner to keep it tied (5-5) after the first half.

The game remained tied through the fourth after Lucas Escobar and Marcos Alberdi swapped goals. The teams matched each other, keeping it level, 8-8, through the fifth. In the final seven minutes, the teams battled for control.

An early drive by Santa Clara was cleared by Bray. Klentner was awarded a Penalty 4 at the five-minute mark, but was unable to convert it. Toccalino then took control of the ball but he shot wide. The go-ahead goal came off the mallet of Alberdi after Obregon knocked-in, passing to Bray, who sent it to him. It took several swipes of a bouncing ball before Alberdi passed it through the posts. Klentner was awarded a Penalty 5 and Bray tried his best to score; the ball had the distance but was just wide. In the waning minutes, Toccalino found Criado but his shot went wide, letting Klentner breathe a sigh of relief. Bray hoped for an insurance goal, but his shot from the boards went wide. With seconds on the clock, Toccalino passed to Lucas Escobar, but Klentner was able to recover it as the clock ran out.

Marcos Alberdi was named MVP. “This is probably the most important tournament I’ve won in my career to date, so it means a lot,” he said. Alberdi grew up playing kids’ polo with Obregon.

Obregon’s Chala wore the Best Playing Pony blanket back to the barn. The 7-year-old Argentine mare came to the U.S. last year. “She was a little green when I first got her but she is becoming more mature and better as the seasons progress,” Obregon said. “One of her best qualities is the way she can stop on a dime coming to any play, turn and run in another direction. She’s a complete mare.”

It was the second win for Klentner and Bray, who won in 2018. “Truly the most important thing is to find teammates you like and who you would hang out with off the field,” Klentner said. “That way you develop a friendship and you will go the extra mile on the field.”

By Gwen Rizzo

 

Dating back to 1900 (first called the Junior Cup, then the Twenty Goal), the USPA Silver Cup returned to Santa Barbara after a three-year stint in Greenwich. It was played July 24-Aug. 9, with eight 16-goal teams divided into two brackets in contention. First round winners included Dundas, Farmers & Merchants Bank, FMB Too! and Lucchese. FMB Too! and Lucchese carried their momentum into the second round, while Santa Clara and Antelope counted their first wins.

FMB Too! continued undefeated in the third round, while Klentner counted its first win. Farmers & Merchants handed Lucchese its first loss, while Antelope added another win.

Bensoleimani.com picked up its first win in the fourth round, while Antelope, Farmers & Merchants, and Lucchese added wins.

Four teams had 3-1 records: Antelope, Farmers & Merchants Bank, Lucchese and FMB Too! All advanced to the semifinals, while the remaining teams, all with 1-3 records, moved into the consolation U.S. Polo Assn. America Cup semifinal.

In the Silver Cup semifinals, Antelope narrowly advanced over Farmers & Merchants, 9-8, while Lucchese edged FMB Too!, 12-11. Antelope and Lucchese would meet in the final two days later.

Antelope had seen its biggest talent, 8-goaler Alfredo Bigatti, get hurt in the first preliminary match so it had been making adjustments throughout the tournament. Gringo Colombres was in the irons for him in the final, joining Grant Palmer, Matt Coppola and Santi Trotz.

On the other side, Nico Escobar, Jeff Hall, Facundo Obregon and John Muse lined up for Lucchese.

Antelope benefited from a pair of Penalty 2s early in the first, which Coppola easily converted. Hall stole the ball from Colombres and sent it through the goal to put Lucchese on the board and Obregon followed with a Penalty 3 conversion. Colombres put Antelope out front, 3-2, tapping a bouncing ball to goal with a minute on the clock.

The second chukker began with a Penalty 3 awarded to Lucchese, which Obregon converted to level the match once again. Trotz converted a Penalty 3 of his own a minute later. Coppola converted a Penalty 2, then got by a hook to slip the ball in the goal, doubling up Lucchese, 6-3. Escobar got Lucchese back in the game with two in a row, the last a belly shot after slipping a hook by Trotz.

Lucchese turned the tables in the third. A Penalty 1 in favor of Lucchese knotted the score, 6-6, to open the chukker. Less than a minute later, Escobar defended a Trotz knock-in, backing the ball with a perfect shot to goal. Colombres missed a back shot in the goal mouth, allowing the ball to slip through the posts. With less than a minute in the half, Obregon converted a Penalty 2 then Hall sent a nearside shot through the goal for a solid 9-6 lead.

Antelope worked hard on a comeback, and a high Penalty 4 conversion straight through the posts by Trotz in the first 15 seconds of the fourth got them off to a great start. A minute later, Palmer sent a perfect nearside to goal despite pressure from Muse, to cut the deficit to just one, 9-8. Obregon tapped the ball into the goal in traffic that brought down the goal post. He followed a minute later, getting past Trotz and sending the ball into the goal. Hall added another, tapping the ball out of the air at speed to make the difference four, 12-8. With just a minute on clock, Colombres muscled past his opponents and took the ball to goal, but it bounced just outside the posts.

The teams battled into the fifth, with no goals scored until the 3-minute mark when Coppola hit the sweet spot. Both teams were unable to convert Penalty 4 conversions. Finally, Coppola passed to an unmarked Trotz for the score, cutting the deficit to two, 12-10. With just 30 seconds in the chukker, Obregon and Colombres were in a sword fight along the boards, but Colombres caught the umpires’ whistles. A Penalty 3 was moved to a 2 after Colombres was given a yellow card. Obregon converted the shot to give Luccesse a three-goal lead into the final chukker.

A Penalty 2 for Antelope early in the sixth put the team closer but Hall negated it halfway through the chukker. The teams kept battling but with just over a minute left, Hall and Colombres collided, sending Hall and his horse to the ground. After a brief moment to catch his breath, Hall continued for the final minute, but later learned he had a concussion, which kept him out of play for the Pacific Coast Open. Meanwhile, Colombres was given another yellow and Lucchese was awarded a Penalty 2, which Escobar easily slipped between the posts. It was the final nail in the coffin as Lucchese took the 15-11 win.

Nico Escobar was named MVP and Hall’s Twiggy was Best Playing Pony. The 8-year-old steel gray Twiggy was trained by Australian Ruki Ballieu. Hall said she is very quick and handy with plenty of speed.

In addition to the trophies, Lucchese received $2,500 from the USPA’s COVID-19 stimulus package prize money.

It was the ninth Silver Cup title for Hall, if you count 2006 when he played in three preliminary games to make it to the final in Houston, Texas. The final was rained out and was played at International Polo Club in Florida on March 25, 2007. Isla Carroll took the win, however Hall was unable to play the final game.

The same day in the America Cup final, Santa Clara overcame Klentner, 10-7. Eight-goal Santi Toccalino led the Escobar family team with brothers Luis and Federico Escobar and Luis’ 17-year-old son, Lucas.

Klentner led the match 2-1 after the first 14 minutes. The teams knotted the match at 4-4 going into the half. Klentner gained a narrow 5-4 advantage in the fourth but Santa Clara tied the match with the most exciting play of the day. Luis Escobar passed to his son, who ran to goal with a hard-riding Alberdi fighting to stay with him. Lucas’ nearside neck shot split the posts for the tie. Some back and forth between the teams ended the chukker with Santa Clara sporting a 7-6 lead.

The final chukker went to Santa Clara as it eventually took a four-goal lead. A Penalty 4 from Bray late in the chukker brought Klentner closer but it wasn’t enough and Santa Clara had the title.

Lucas Escobar was named MVP and Luis Escobar’s Scar, a 9-year-old appendix mare, was Best Playing Pony.

It was a great day for the Escobar family as both boys were named MVPs and the family team had a big win.

Santa Clara and Klentner Ranch met again in the Pacific Coast Open final. Both teams were 3-1 going into the semi-finals, Santa Clara’s only loss to Klentner Ranch. Klentner edged Antelope in the semis, while Santa Clara beat bensoleimani.com.

Santi Toccalino and Lucas Escobar had won the Pacific Coast Open with Farmers & Merchants Bank last year and were hoping for a repeat.

While it was the same teams as the America Cup, it was a different game with both teams having improved. Santa Clara’s Luis Escobar was injured in an earlier game and was replaced by 3-goal Luquitas Criado in the final.

Alberdi shot first but the ball went wide. Toccalino put the first tally on the board two minutes into the first chukker. Later, Bray dropped a pass for Klentner in front of the goal, needing just a touch for the tally. A Penalty 2 conversion by Obregon just before the horn gave Klentner a slight lead. Toccalino tied the match with a Penalty 3 conversion in the second but Obregon and Bray found the mark to give Klentner the 4-2 lead. Toccalino tied the match in the third and Lucas Escobar traded goals with Klentner to keep it tied (5-5) after the first half.

The game remained tied through the fourth after Lucas Escobar and Marcos Alberdi swapped goals. The teams matched each other, keeping it level, 8-8, through the fifth. In the final seven minutes, the teams battled for control.

An early drive by Santa Clara was cleared by Bray. Klentner was awarded a Penalty 4 at the five-minute mark, but was unable to convert it. Toccalino then took control of the ball but he shot wide. The go-ahead goal came off the mallet of Alberdi after Obregon knocked-in, passing to Bray, who sent it to him. It took several swipes of a bouncing ball before Alberdi passed it through the posts. Klentner was awarded a Penalty 5 and Bray tried his best to score; the ball had the distance but was just wide. In the waning minutes, Toccalino found Criado but his shot went wide, letting Klentner breathe a sigh of relief. Bray hoped for an insurance goal, but his shot from the boards went wide. With seconds on the clock, Toccalino passed to Lucas Escobar, but Klentner was able to recover it as the clock ran out.

Marcos Alberdi was named MVP. “This is probably the most important tournament I’ve won in my career to date, so it means a lot,” he said. Alberdi grew up playing kids’ polo with Obregon.

Obregon’s Chala wore the Best Playing Pony blanket back to the barn. The 7-year-old Argentine mare came to the U.S. last year. “She was a little green when I first got her but she is becoming more mature and better as the seasons progress,” Obregon said. “One of her best qualities is the way she can stop on a dime coming to any play, turn and run in another direction. She’s a complete mare.”

It was the second win for Klentner and Bray, who won in 2018. “Truly the most important thing is to find teammates you like and who you would hang out with off the field,” Klentner said. “That way you develop a friendship and you will go the extra mile on the field.”

By Gwen Rizzo

 

 
 
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