USPA GOLD CUP®
The USPA Gold Cup is the second 22-goal tournament of the Florida high-goal season and the second leg in the Gauntlet of Polo, hosted by the National Polo Center - Wellington (NPC) in Wellington, Florida. Making its inaugural debut at NPC, the USPA Gold Cup is preceded by the C.V. Whitney Cup and will be followed by the U.S. Open Polo Championship.
Established in 1974 at Oak Brook Polo Club in Oak Brook, Illinois, its first edition featured four teams. Inaugural winners Milwaukee (Tom Hughes, Tommy Wayman, Joe Barry, Robert Uihlein III) bested Houston 9-8, in a thrilling overtime victory with Wayman scoring the golden goal three minutes into the sudden death chukker. The following year, the USPA Gold Cup was moved to Milwaukee Polo Club (Hartland, Wisconsin) where it was played from 1975 to 1978. In 1979, it moved to Florida and became the crown jewel of the winter season. In its heyday at the Palm Beach Polo and Country Club, during the 80s and early 90s, the USPA Gold Cup was the tournament to win, attracting anywhere from 11 to 20 teams.
After a 17-year stretch at the Palm Beach Polo and Country Club, the tournament was hosted by several clubs over the years including Royal Palm Polo Club (now defunct), Greenwich Polo Club (Greenwich, Connecticut) and New Bridge Polo & Country Club (Aiken, South Carolina), before landing in it's permanent home in Wellington, Florida.
Notable contemporary winners include Valiente (2018, 2017, 2014, 2013, 2012), Audi (2015, 2011) and Crab Orchard (2010, 2007). White Birch holds the all-time record wins with 12 titles spanning three decades. History was made during the inaugural Gauntlet of Polo in 2019, when Pilot won the C.V. Whitney Cup starting a run to capture all three events, winning the $500,000 prize money, then earning $1 million over the course of the series and becoming the only team to do so. Back-to-back victories in the Gold Cup were last achieved in 2017 and 2018 by Valiente, with a new champion crowned ever since, highlighting the continuous strength of competition and dedication required to reach the podium.
In 2022, Pilot (Curtis Pilot, Mackenzie Weisz, Matias Torres Zavaleta, Facundo Pieres) and Park Place (Josh Hyde, Juan Britos, Hilario Ulloa, Cody Ellis) met in an electric finale, where team captain Pieres elevated his play as a leader and offensive powerhouse, accounting for all of Pilot’s offensive contributions, including the golden goal to land Pilot the 11-10 victory. Read article here.
All twelve teams competing in the 2023 C.V. Whitney Cup (Aspen, Dazos, Dutta Corp/Show+, La Elina, La Fe, Park Place, Pilot, Scone, Shack Attack, Tamera, Two Trees by Jefferies, Valiente) will be returning for the USPA Gold Cup Reigning champion Pilot, aiming for their third title (2019, 2022) in five years, will see the return of Matias 'Colo' Gonzalez for the first time since their historic run in 2019. Granting individual entities in the Gauntlet of Polo for a second consecutive year, the USPA Gold Cup will also include the addition of Shack Attack 2 as the thirteenth team vying for the prestigious title.
Returning to the USPA Gold Cup for the first time since 2018, renowned powerhouse Valiente will seek to add a sixth title to their name, as newcomers Dazos and Two Trees by Jefferies aim to make their mark on the historic tournament. Among this year’s competitors, top American talents Jeff Hall, Jared Zenni, Matt Coppola and Nicolas 'Nico' Escobar will join forces to play for last year’s U.S. Open Polo Championship finalist, La Elina. La Elina joins the competition as the only All-American team on the roster.
10-goalers competing this year include current USPA Gold Cup and U.S. Open Polo Championship champion Facundo Pieres (Pilot), 2010 USPA Gold Cup champion Hilario Ulloa, and fifteen-time USPA Gold Cup Champion (1991, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2021) Adolfo Cambiaso.
Coming together in a commanding alliance, 9-goalers Pelon Stirling and Poroto Cambiaso look to repeat their recent success in the Argentine Open for third-year contender, Scone. Though Adolfo Cambiaso (Valiente) and son Poroto (Scone) will play for separate teams this year, one other father-son duo will take the field together, with Rufino Bensadon and Francisco 'Pancho' Bensadon joining Aspen.
The winner of the USPA Gold Cup will receive $50,000. In partnership with USPA Global Licensing, each of the teams will select a charity of their choice from 10 non-profits and both charities of the winner and runners-up will receive a $2,500 donation.
Team USPA, an Association program designed to enhance and grow the sport of polo in the United States by identifying young, talented American players will be readily represented in the C.V. Whitney Cup. Six Team USPA alumni and two Active Team USPA Members are represented across five teams highlighting the depth of American talent.
Learn more about the Gauntlet of Polo.
Photo: 2022 USPA Gold Cup Champions: Pilot - Curtis Pilot, Mackenzie Weisz, Matias Torres Zavaleta, Facundo Pieres. ©David Lominska.