In the words of Hawaii Polo Life patron Chris Dawson, winning the 20-goal Denver Invitational was “as real as it gets!” It was also history making for his home state, marking the first time anyone from Hawaii has entered and won a high goal tournament in the United States in decades. Hawaii took the trophy this week with a tenacious 8-7 win over David Paradice’s Ellerston, a new team in the Denver Invitational. Nine-goaler Diego Cavanagh, captain of the Hawaii Polo Life team, broke a 7-all tie to make the winning goal.
Four teams competed in the 2018 Denver Invitational. Three teams returned from last year, but with slightly shuffled lineups. Dawson played this year with three pros (Cavanagh, Nano Gracida and Tommy Collingwood), whereas last year Hawaii Polo Life was an all-pro team. As far as it being “real” for Dawson, he experienced a jarring dose of reality in the fourth chukker: a full-throttle collision with Agustín Nero. Both dusted themselves off and played out the game, with an undaunted Dawson proclaiming afterward, “I’d love to play more high-goal in the U.S.”
Nano Gracida, a 4-goaler and Hawaii Polo Life brand ambassador, said, “It was a tough final. Both teams gave it all they had. We started the game strong, using every opportunity to gain a comfortable lead. I scored a couple of goals, and that gave me a lot of confidence. But as the game went on we made some mistakes that [Scone] capitalized on, making the game tight. Towards the end I thought we dominated on the field, even though we were tied most of the game. With two minutes left our team captain Diego gave us the win.”
Team Rosters: Hawaii (Chris Dawson, Nano Gracida, Diego Cavanagh, Tommy Collingwood). Scone (Marco Baldocci sub for David Paradice, Gomez Romero, Guillermo Terrera, AgustínNero).
The Denver Invitational took place at Valiente Polo Farm in Littleton and served as a prelude to the 20-goal 2018 Colorado Open, which begins this weekend. Adolfo Cambiaso will be playing for defending champion Valiente when he returns to Denver next week.
LA INDIANA AND LECHUZA CARACAS HURTLING TOWARD COPA DE PLATA FINAL
Defending champion Lechuza Caracas and La Indiana slammed their way into this weekend’s Copa de Plata Appletiser (Silver Cup) high-goal final in the 47th International Polo Tournament. The final takes place Saturday at 7 p.m. local time.
In Thursday’s semifinals La Indiana took Dubai 14-12 and Lechuza Caracas defeated Bardon 12-10 at Santa María Polo Club in Sotogrande. La Indiana (Michael Bickford, Hugo Lewis, Santiago Laborde and Facundo Pieres) didn’t take the lead until the fourth chukker. Dubai (Rashid Albwardy, Camilo and Bartolomé Castagnola and Alfredo Capella), undefeated until the semis, came in hot off their recent victory in the final of the Estrella Damm Copa de Bronce (Bronze Cup). Thursday the score was tied at 11 in the fifth chukker, but La Indiana quickly capitalized on the prowess of Facundo Pieres, who shifted into a defiant “Okay, I’ve had enough of this!” mode and scored.
In a less balanced semifinal Venezuela’s Lechuza Caracas was bolstered by their stonewall of 10-goalers (Juan Martín Nero and David Stirling, the latter back from injury), with Victor Vargas and James Mann. Bardon (Andreas Tambor, Alejandro Muzzio, Alejo Taranco and Matías Machado) got off to a slow start but amped it up in the second half, losing the game by only two goals.
The Copa de Oro Maserati (Gold Cup) begins next week in Sotogrande.
FRANCE: PIERES POWER SPICES UP SAINT TROPEZ
Three Piereses, each playing for a different team, have brought 9- and 10-goaler pizazz to the 18-goal Côte d'Azur Cup at Saint Tropez Polo Club in France. Polito is playing for Sagax, Gonzalito for Las Plantas, and Nico for BP Polo. Polito and Gonza face off in Friday’s semifinals (Las Plantas v. Sagax). The other semis game pits defending champion Chateau d’Aulne against La Bien Mirada. The final takes place this Sunday.
The tournament began last week with six teams. Opening day featured Gonza leading the charge for Las Plantas to an 11-8 victory over Chateau d’Aulne. Gonza made four goals, as did teammate Matías Nigoul. Martín Joaquín was good for three goals with the support of patron Peter Kis. Las Plantas led in every chukker (2-1, 4-3, 7-5, 8-6, 11-8). All four members of Chateau d’Aulne (Nacho Kennedy, Alexis Pouille de Balkany, Nito Uranga and Sebastián Harriott) contributed to the scoreboard.
PHOTOGRAPHY: PoloChannel (Denver Invitational); Snoopy Productions/Santa María Polo Club (Copa de Plata Appletiser)