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DUBAI AND WHITE BIRCH REMAIN UNDEFEATED IN U.S. OPEN POLO CHAMPIONSHIP® WITH WINS OVER VALIENTE AND COCA-COLA

Apr 10, 2016 1:17 PM

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dubai white birch undefeated u.s. open polo championship

In second-round action of the U.S. Open Polo Championship®, Dubai and White Birch won their matches to remain undefeated (2-0). Dubai took a relatively easy ride over Valiente 9-6 at the Valiente Polo Farm, while earlier in the day White Birch needed an extra chukker to win against Coca-Cola 11-10 in overtime at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC).


DUBAI DEFEATS VALIENTE WITH 9-6 VICTORY

Dubai dominated 9-6 in U.S. Open play over defending champion Valiente in a matchup that Adolfo Cambiaso characterized as “a little strange.” The twist was not so much how the game at Valiente Polo Farm played out, but rather part of the back-story between Valiente and Dubai. Bob Jornayvaz has provided resources to the Dubai team, including his top player Adolfo Cambiaso and some of his strongest horses. In exchange, Rashid and the Dubai team will be offering the same to Jornayvaz in the 2016 English Gold Cup. “I’ve lived this before,” referring to previous tournaments in which he played for one Jornayvaz team or the other (sometimes alongside Jornayvaz, other times against him with Jornayvaz’s son Rob as his teammate). “We have played many finals against each other, so this is similar. We are used to it.”

Dubai took an early lead but was scoreless in the second chukker, which ended 3-all. Cambiaso scored in the third on an incredibly difficult back shot, and Dubai steamed ahead with tight teamwork. Cambiaso delivered the ball to Facundo Sola, who passed it to patron Rashid Albwardy, who scored and immediately made another outstanding field goal. Dubai closed out the first half with a three-goal lead (6-3) but stalled in the fourth, unable to score.

Sola stepped up the pace, making three goals combined in the last two chukkers. Alfredo Cappella made Dubai work for the win, scoring twice from the field to close out the game. Sola, who led the scoring with four goals, called Saturday’s win a mixture of luck and strategy. “The game was very difficult. We both played well,” he said. “We had some luck because Valiente played better than in the last game. But today we made them play our game.” Albwardy considered that the key. “Valiente plays classic polo, which for us is an advantage,” he said. “But at the same time they’re good players, especially Alfredo. He can knock the ball more than half the length of the field. Valiente is not a team that you foul. There is no space for mistakes because they’re going to score, especially if Alfredo picks up the ball or Tomas gets to the penalty line.”

WHITE BIRCH SNEAKS BY COCA-COLA 11-10 IN OT THRILLER

“This isn’t the day to sell us horses!” Hilario Ulloa joked to a horse trader who stopped by the tent to congratulate White Birch on their 11-10 overtime victory over Coca-Cola at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC). Ulloa had just made the winning goal aboard one of his family’s homebreds, which he also scored on in the third chukker. “I’m very proud of her,” said Ulloa. “My family bred her, my father broke her, I made her, and she’s playing in the U.S. Open.”

The day’s high-scorer with seven goals, Ulloa scored in every chukker except the sixth. The first half closed with White Birch leading 7-5. Coca-Cola bounced back in the fourth chukker with two goals by Julio Arellano on penalty shots and one by Sugar Erskine from the field, tying the score at 8.

From that point on it was either team’s game, with the score 9-all at the end of the fifth. Mariano Aguerre pulled White Birch back into the lead with a field goal in the sixth, but Gillian Johnston countered for Coca-Cola, pushing the game into overtime. Ulloa sealed the 11-10 win for White Birch on a penalty two.

“I think we played really well and deserved to win,” said Ulloa. “Coke is a great team, and they had a great comeback in the end, but we played really well the first three or four chukkers. We were ahead by three goals, but then we made a couple of silly mistakes that allowed them to come back.”

The games were live streamed by ChukkerTV, a partner of the USPA Polo Network. Continuous live coverage of the U.S. Open continues Sunday, April 10, at IPC. Audi plays Flexjet at 10 a.m., and Orchard Hill opposes Lucchese at 3 p.m. All times are ET.

USPA

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