By United States Polo Association. Photos © David Lominska/International Polo Club.
The Iglehart Cup Final took place between the two opening USPA Gold Cup® games on Sunday, March 12, 2017, at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida. The undefeated Equine Liquid Biocell met La Indiana for the second time in the tournament.
The two teams competed early in bracket play resulting in a disappointing loss for La Indiana who suffered a shocking 12-5 defeat. Spectators lined Field 5 on a particularly gorgeous Sunday, anxious to witness the rematch.
A determined and incredibly focused La Indiana took to the field in the first chukker. After a great defensive bump on Hilario Ulloa, Baillieu backed the ball to Mike Azzaro who scored the first goal of the game off a beautiful neckshot.
This first score and early lead would set the pace for La Indiana who continued to rack up the goals. Another field goal from Azzaro and two excellent penalty conversions from Jeff Hall were countered by only two goals from Equine Liquid Biocell’s Agustin Obregon giving La Indiana a surprising 4-2 lead moving into the third chukker.
La Indiana’s lead would quickly change as Equine Liquid Biocell turned up the heat in the third. 10-goaler Ulloa scored immediately out of the lineup initiating a relentless surge of Equine Liquid Biocell goals.
Spectacular teamwork between 4-goaler *Jared Zenni and Ulloa contributed to four more unanswered goals. Completely shut out in the third, a stunned La Indiana approached the half trailing by three 7-4.
“We watched them play a semifinal against Tonkawa, and then we had a team meeting and reviewed a tape of their game against Mt. Brilliant,” said Zenni. “We knew they were a really good team, with a great organization behind them and we would have to play really well in order to win. Going into the third chukker we started playing with more attitude and began winning plays.”
Equine Liquid Biocell’s offensive onslaught continued into the fourth and fifth chukkers as the entire team appeared to work in perfect harmony. “We had a tough start of the game, the first two chukkers we didn’t play well,” said Ulloa.
“We were a bit asleep and slow on the turns and they played great. Luckily, we woke up quickly and had an amazing third, fourth and fifth chukker.” Despite La Indiana’s best efforts and defensive maneuvers, multiple attempts on goal proved unsuccessful. As the gap widened to an astounding 11-4, a stalwart La Indiana approached each chukker on a united front remaining focused and undiscouraged.
Holding a commanding seven-goal lead, Equine Liquid Biocell entered the final chukker confident of the win. Fortunately for spectators, La Indiana would not let them get away that easily. In a truly heroic display of polo, Baillieu exploded onto the field scoring three consecutive goals in the first three minutes of play to bring the score within four 11-7.
Channeling the forward momentum, both Azzaro and Hall scored to bring La Indiana within two 11-9 with two minutes remaining. Executing the final touch on an unbelievable comeback, Azzaro scored the closing goal for La Indiana only moments before the thirty-second horn, falling just short of the tie that would play out the remaining time.
La Indiana was defeated 11-10 and Equine Liquid Biocell captured the 2017 Iglehart Cup in what is sure to be referred to as one of the most memorable matches of the 20-Goal Season.
Jared Zenni was awarded Most Valuable Player for his exceptional play, thwarting numerous La Indiana attacks on goal and assisting on multiple Ulloa goals with booming passes to the 10-goaler’s mallet.
When asked what he had learned most from Ulloa, Zenni answered, “Playing with Hilario is a dream come true. He has taught me that when making a play to believe that you will win that play and commit one-hundred percent, to push to get to the ball and remain calm and collected when you get there.”
Best Playing Pony honors were presented to seven-year-old Aran, owned by Michael Bickford and played by Ruki Baillieu in the second and sixth chukkers.
“Michael bought her from Ellerston,” said Baillieu “They were doing a disbursement sale. James Packer gave up playing, and he sold a load of horses. We bought her as a five-year-old. She played in England this year for the first time with Nic Roldan in the Queen’s Cup Final. Then we brought her over here because I was a bit short on horses, and she has been great, she is a really nice mare.”
*Jared Zenni is a member 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.