|Tue 23rd Apr 2019|
Pilot Win $1,000,000 and Crowned Gauntlet of Polo Champions
US Open Championship Final
On Sunday 21 April, Pilot made history as the winners of the first ever Gauntlet of Polo series and with it the coveted $1,000,000 prize after defeating Las Monjitas 12-7 in The US Open Polo Championship Final at International Polo Club, Palm Beach, following wins in The C.V. Whitney and USPA Gold Cup.
Going into the Final, Pilot were in a strong position, as they remained undefeated with an impressive 15-0 winning streak during the tournament, they capitalised on by exploding into the first chukka to take a 4-1 lead after the first seven minutes of play. In the second chukka, both Fran Elizalde and Facundo Pieres converted penalties for their teams, which maintained the score gap. However, by the end of the first half, Las Monjitas had managed to bring the scores closer together to 5-3.
After some half-time team talks, Pilot came out in the second half undeniably strong, mirroring the intensity of their first chukka. A plethora of goals for Pilot took their lead to 9-4 and it was this fourth chukka advantage which saw the beginning of the end for Las Monjitas, as they now had an uphill struggle to contain the power of the Pieres brothers. Las Monjitas tried and failed to create their own attacking plays in the fifth chukka, but by now Facundo and Gonzalito were in full swing, demonstrating their effective, wide and open plays and mercilessly notching up goals, which saw the fifth chukka end with a score of 10-5.
Despite the daunting goal deficit, Las Monjitas were determined to keep playing until the final whistle, however Pilot were equally unrelenting on their goal scoring mission. Gonzalito managed to cheekily steal the ball from 10 goaler Hilario Ulloa and drove it through the posts to further Pilot’s lead. Despite two last-minute goals from Ulloa, Pilot’s early and incessant lead was too much to overcome and Pilot took the win with a score of 12-7.
Matías González was named Most Valuable Player of the Final and Mega Chistosal, played by Facundo Pieres, received the Best Playing Pony of the Final award. After the match Facundo commented, “Gonzalito had an amazing day. I told him after the game that, for me, it was his best game of the season and I was very happy because we needed him. He’s a player that in important moments is always there.”
A full report of The US Open Final will be included in the next issue of Polo Times.
Meanwhile, in the Subsidiary Final, SD Farms defeated Old Hickory Bourbon 11-10 for the Hall of Fame Subsidiary Cup, with SD Farms’ Peco Polledo named Most Valuable Player and Ponderosa, played by Old Hickory Bourbon’s Miguel Novillo Astrada awarded Best Playing Pony honours.
The US Open Final Teams:
Pilot (22): Curtis Pilot (0), Matías González (3), Gonzalito Pieres (9) & Facundo Pieres (10)
Las Monjitas (22): Camilo Bautista (0), Fran Elizalde (8), Hilario Ulloa (10) & Matt Coppola (4)
Photograph: Pilot, winners of the inaugural Gauntlet of Polo. By ©David Lominska/United States Polo Association