Before the first throw-in back in January there were plenty of players perplexed about what was going to happen during the next four months of high goal polo. A new club owner at IPC, only three teams in the first 20 goal and not many teams showing interest in the 26 goal. It was not going to be ‘business as usual’ this year.
When only three teams entered the first tournament it took just two games for Villa del Lago to claim the Pennell Cup with a 12-9 win over Postage Stamp. Team entries started to improve for the Barry Cup. La Indiana bested seven other teams to take the title with a 13-10 victory over Mt. Brilliant. February saw 14 team entries in the Ylvisaker Cup. In the final Coke beat Tonkawa in overtime 9 to 8.
Things started to turn the corner when Mark and Marc stepped up with cash in hand. Gladiator Polo arrived with all-pro teams battling it out in the arena for fat paycheques worth $250,000. Mark Bellissimo became a game changer and the concept was so successful plans are already underway to bring it back in 2018 for twelve weeks. Grand Champions Marc Ganzi jumped on the big money theme and revised the World Cup with sixteen teams chasing a $100,000 jackpot. A team of young professional players cashed out on that deal in the winner take all competition, Palm Beach Illustrated.
Then in April the Triple Crown went to Valiente for the first time in seven years. They stormed into the Whitney Cup as a well mounted, tough to beat team, and trounced long time rival Orchard Hill 14-11. It was another three-goal win in the Gold Cup as they took down Coke 9-6. The US Open was a rematch of the Whitney with another grudge match between Facundo Pieres and Adolfo Cambiaso. Valiente needed overtime to beat a determined Orchard Hill team.
Polo’s critical future is now in the hands of key patrons, club owners and the polo association. The time has come to develop a united front on all sides and to move forward focused on what’s best for the sport. More than ever polo needs a bigger list of committed patrons, quality sponsorship and an expanded media presence.