Established in 1954, the Butler Handicap has steadily gained back its initial prestige since its re-launch at the Greenwich Polo Club (Greenwich, Connecticut) in July 2016. Incorporated into the 26-goal lineup last year at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC) in Wellington, Florida, this year’s competition featured a four-team single-elimination format.
While superficially the teams remained unchanged from the C.V. Whitney Cup, many player variations took place for similar, yet fresh, tournament play. Despite these shifts, the semifinal double-header on Wednesday, March 7, yielded a repeat final as Colorado defeated Daily Racing Form – DRF Bets 14-11 and Valiente overtook Grand Champions Polo Club 9-6.
Colorado Earn First Spot in Butler Handicap Final
Daily Racing Form – DRF Bets (DRF) entered the Butler Handicap with the same lineup from last week’s C.V. Whitney Cup, eager for a second opportunity to overcome a Valiente organization and make it to a 26-goal final.
They were met by Colorado who reinstated Rob Jornayvaz and Juan Britos from earlier 20-goal tournament play. With a team handicap of 25 goals, Colorado was awarded one goal to start the game.
DRF began the match firing on all cylinders as 10-goaler Hilario Ulloa made three consecutive goals. DRF ultimately shut Colorado out of the first with a solid 4-0 score. Colorado’s first goal of the game came early in the second off of a Penalty 2 conversion by Diego Cavanagh.
DRF countered with an incredible effort, scoring three consecutive goals to gain a notable lead over their opponents 7-2. A quick downpour did not slow down play as a nearly opposite third chukker ensued. Colorado got their feet underneath them and scored three of their own, shutting down DRF to narrow the gap 7-5 at halftime.
Colorado came back in the fourth with renewed energy, eventually overcoming the early DRF onslaught to lead 9-8 at the end of the period. Riding exceptional horses and displaying amazing teamwork, Colorado slowly pulled away from their rivals in the fifth scoring three goals to DRF’s one. An aggressive and hard-fought final chukker, two goals apiece were traded in the last minutes of regulation time and Colorado walked away victorious with a final score of 14-11.
Valiente Maintains Winning Streak to Secure Second 26-goal Final
At the pristine Valiente Farm, a newly-structured Grand Champions Polo Club (GCPC) team, now including U.S. Polo Assn. Brand Ambassador Juancito Bollini and 10-goaler Juan Martin Nero, took on recent C.V. Whitney Cup champions, Valiente, headed by Bob Jornayvaz.
Rated cumulatively at 24 goals, GCPC received two goals in handicap versus 26-goal Valiente. The two Valiente 10-goal former rivals showcased their skills early. Adolfo Cambiaso chipping away at Grand Champions’ initial lead with the only goal of the first chukker. In the second, Facundo
Pieres took over the scoring with a field goal, followed by two penalty conversions to take the lead 4-3 over GCPC. Trading goals, the teams remained close moving into the half, maintaining the gap 5-4.
Grant Ganzi pulled through for GCPC in the second half scoring two goals, but
Valiente laid down the hammer in the fourth and fifth chukkers with four goals, each player contributing to the final tally. Valiente secured their second final appearance defeating Grand Champions Polo Club 9-6.
The USPA Polo Network will livestream the Butler Handicap Final this Sunday, March 11, at 3:00pm ET. The pre-game show will be livestreamed beginning at 2:30pm ET on uspolo.org. For those wishing to attend the game at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in person, please visit ipc.coth.com.
*Rob Jornayvaz and Jared Zenni are members of Team USPA. Team USPA is a USPA program designed to enhance and grow the sport of polo in the United States by identifying young, talented American players and providing mentored training and playing opportunities leading to a pool of higher rated amateur and pro players and the resultant giveback to the sport of polo.
About the United States Polo Association®
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 United States Polo Association (USPA) is the national governing body for the sport of polo. USPA is currently comprised of almost 300 member clubs with thousands of individual members, and oversees 40 national tournaments. For more information, please visit uspolo.org.
About the International Polo Club Palm Beach
The International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC) is the premier polo destination in the world, hosting the largest field of high-goal teams and the most prestigious polo tournaments in the United States. Polo enthusiasts descend upon Wellington, FL each winter season to enjoy their love of the sport at the most prominent polo facility in the country. The 2018 Palm Beach Polo Season opens Sunday, December 31, and concludes 17 weeks later with the USPA 114th U.S. Open Polo Championship® Final on Sunday, April 22. Polo matches are open to the public, with a wide range of hospitality and guest seating that includes elegant grandstand viewing, field tailgating, stadium seating, field-side champagne brunch at The Pavilion, and exclusive sponsor boxes. See more at www.internationalpoloclub.com.