Apr 12, 2022 10:52 PM
Capping off a spectacular 18-goal season at Port Mayaca Polo Club (PMPC) in Okeechobee, Florida, familiar adversaries Old Hickory Bourbon (Stewart Burkland, Joaquin Panelo, sub. Santiago Toccalino, Steve Orthwein) and Beverly Polo (sub. Will Ballhaus, Hilario Figueras, Lucas Diaz Alberdi, Jorge “Tolito” Ocampo Jr.) met in a second consecutive final to battle for the prestigious Monty Waterbury title.
After defeating Old Hickory Bourbon (OHB) 10-7 to claim the Butler Handicap at PMCP, Beverly Polo looked to add a third 18-goal title to their impressive 2022 resume following a January victory in the Iglehart Cup at International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC) in Wellington, Florida. As the defending Monty Waterbury champions, OHB returned to the competition with the high expectations of repeating their title for a second consecutive year.
Facing stiff competition between four teams throughout the month-long tournament, Beverly Polo, OHB and newcomers CK Shack all ended bracket play in a three-way tie, with Beverly Polo and OHB advancing the final in a nail-biting shootout. Capturing their first match of the Monty Waterbury 7-6 over OHB, Beverly Polo’s recent streak of narrowly edging OHB set up a spectacular offensively driven final battle.
Approaching their second head-to-head matchup of the tournament with determination and confidence, Beverly Polo’s Figueras and Ocampo Jr. initiated the action, scoring five combined goals to give their team an early advantage. Leading Beverly Polo with 10 goals, including four from the penalty line, Ocampo Jr.’s offensive contributions aided to offset a strong second half push from OHB, as Beverly Polo’s accuracy from the field and unified play combined for the 14-10 victory and third 18-goal championship of the season.
“I was a little worried going into 18-goal polo on such short notice, in a final no less, but I’m proud of how I did.” – Will Ballhaus
Largely relying on their cohesive team chemistry as a competitive advantage, Beverly Polo has seen few roster adjustments over the past two years. Filling in for his father Bill, 15-year-old Will Ballhaus’ first experience playing at the 18-goal level in the final of the Monty Waterbury was pivotal for both Ballhaus and Beverly Polo. “To prepare for each match, we would have a team meeting to discuss roles and plays at the barn the night before, and the final was no different,” explained Ballhaus. Assisting with the integration of Ballhaus into the team’s strategy Ocampo Jr. stated, “We stuck with our plan and tried to get Will into it!” Ballhaus continued, “I was a little worried going into 18-goal polo on such short notice, in a final no less, but I’m proud of how I did.”
Quick to draw a Penalty 4, Ocampo Jr. made his first of four successful conversions on the day to ignite a Beverly Polo five-goal run, including contributions from Figueras, Alberdi and Ocampo Jr. Caught on their heels early in the match, Panelo finally answered with back-to-back goals from the field to get OHB onto the scoreboard. Leading Beverly Polo with 10 goals on the day, Ocampo Jr. seized control of the third chukker posting three goals, including two Penalty 2’s to give his team a commanding six-goal lead. Despite a response from Orthwein in open play for OHB, Beverly Polo’s rapid start gave them an assertive 8-3 advantage at the half.
“The most important thing was to be positive with our attitude. This season means a lot for us proving we were well organized to play the 18-goal.” – Jorge "Tolito" Fernandez Ocampo Jr.
Speaking to their efficient and productive start, Ocampo Jr. stated, “we came out trying to get the lead since the beginning of the match, as that was hard for us in previous games.” Contributing on the defensive end of the ball was a challenge gladly accepted by Ballhaus, “my main job throughout the match was mainly to take the other team’s number one and keep him away from Hilario.” Ballhaus continued, “after that, I was to play up and be ready for a pass.”
Well mounted and prepared for a potential OHB rally, Alberdi shared the developments Beverly Polo had made throughout the season to bring them to their third final, “I think we improved a lot in our horse strings. Luckily, Bill hired Piki my dad as a coach who helped us with strategy, but more importantly [he helps us] on staying positive and focused.”
Trading goals between Beverly Polo’s Alberdi and OHB’s Panelo in the fourth, Ocampo Jr’s. confidence on the field was once again rewarded with two goals in the fifth chukker. Offsetting the firepower of Ocampo Jr., Panelo and Orthwein answered for OHB, propelling the momentum in their favor. A second Penalty 2 from Panelo guided OHB’s comeback endeavor. Taking the ball to the goal for the third time, Orthwein was followed by another field goal from Toccalino, as OHB trailed 9-11. Watching their once dominant lead quickly slipping away, Ocampo Jr. stepped up once again for Beverly Polo and despite a final goal for OHB’s Orthwein, Ocampo Jr. sealed Beverly Polo’s victory with two final goals for the 14-10 title triumph.
“It’s amazing to win these three 18-goal trophies! I’m very happy because we could play the whole season focused from the beginning to the end.” – Lucas Diaz Alberdi
Following their final win of the season, Alberdi reflected on the successes and growth of Beverly Polo, “it’s amazing to win these three 18-goal trophies! I’m very happy because we could play the whole season focused from the beginning to the end.”
For his dominant offensive contributions, Jorge “Tolito” Fernandez Ocampo Jr. was awarded Most Valuable Player. Reflecting on Beverly Polo’s achievements throughout the season, Ocampo Jr. noted, “the most important thing was to be positive with our attitude. This season means a lot for us proving we were well organized to play the 18-goal.”
Best Playing Pony honors were presented to Yatay Rihanna, a 12-year-old bay mare played by Hilario Figueras in the fifth chukker, “she’s home bred from our breeding operation,” stated Figueras. “She’s named after the singer [Rihanna] because she is the daughter of Shakira. She’s super-fast, so whenever someone gets on a breakaway it’s easy for me to get there. Plus, she’s a bay, which is my favorite color of horse!”
Getting his first taste of victory, Ballhaus’ foray into high-goal polo was his most memorable to date, “I’m very grateful that I was able to substitute for my dad,” said Ballhaus. “I have a lot of respect for him, so being able to help win the tournament in his name really made me happy!”
All photos courtesy of ©Laura Linfoot Townsend.
Effective Date: Saturday, May 16, 2020
The suspension of USPA Tournaments and Events will be lifted for USPA Member Clubs in locales where hosting polo matches and tournaments is permitted under applicable state and local laws, executive orders and similar decrees. The USPA Member Clubs in these locales are encouraged to follow all such requirements of their state and local authorities with respect to polo operations. In addition, we also encourage all USPA Member Clubs to take the precautions recommended by the CDC. We are preparing a detailed list of best practices for USPA Member Clubs as they return to hosting USPA Tournaments and Events and plan to circulate these guidelines within the next week. We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely and will notify you if we determine a different course of action is necessary.Read More