Oct 31, 2018 9:34 PM

2018 Regional President's Cup winners Ghurka - (L to R) Drew Luplow, Cody Ellis, Brad Mallett, Fox Benton.

After the tournament final was delayed for over two weeks due to wet field conditions, defending champions BTA finally met Ghurka in the Regional President’s Cup Final on Tuesday, October 30, at the Houston Polo Club in Houston, Texas. Taking control of the scoreboard from the second chukker, Ghurka maintained their lead throughout the game to capture the 2018 title 9-6.

Displaying strong defense early in the first chukker, both teams protected their goal well, neither scoring from the field. Ending the first with a single Penalty 2 conversion by KC Krueger, BTA’s one-goal lead would be short lived in the face of Ghurka’s powerful advance throughout the remainder of the first half. Nailing an impressive 40-yard cut shot, Cody Ellis* scored back-to-back goals in the second on the heels of teammate Brad Mallett. Entering the third chukker down by one, BTA’s Rob Stenzel made his first goal off a pass from KC Krueger, but Ellis retaliated with three consecutive goals of his own to widen the gap. Stick and balling his fifth goal of the game across his opponent’s end line, Ellis doubled up the scoreboard at the half, 6-3 in favor of Ghurka.

action shot
Ghurka's Brad Mallett pursues the ball with a BTA's KC Krueger defending.

Securing the only goal of the fourth, Mallett scored on the nearside adding to Ghurka’s tally to steadily increase their advantage. Each side matching the other goal for goal in the final two chukkers, BTA could not generate the offensive momentum necessary to overcome Ghurka in the second half. Converting an advantageous Penalty 2, Chrys Beal was quickly answered back by a neckshot from Ellis to maintain the gap. Heading into the final chukker 8-4, Ghurka could not be stopped as Drew Luplow ran downfield to score with Beal closely in pursuit. Although the final goal belonged to BTA, Ghurka rode away with the win they sought 9-6, undefeated throughout tournament play.

Scoring six of Ghurka’s nine goals, Cody Ellis was named Most Valuable Player. Best Playing Pony honors were awarded to Ellis’ second chukker mare, 8-year-old Shimeneez. “I bought her from Jake Stimmel this past winter in Florida and she is out of Greg Goodman’s Mt. Brilliant Farm breeding operation in Lexington, Kentucky,” Ellis revealed. “She is a very fun and fast mare with a lot of attitude both on and off the field.”

Best Playing Pony, Shimeneez, pictured with MVP Cody Ellis and Luis Pavon.

*Cody Ellis is a member of Team USPA.Team USPA is a USPA program designed to enhance and grow the sport of polo in the United States by identifying young, talented American players and providing mentored training and playing opportunities leading to a pool of higher rated amateur and pro players and the resultant giveback to the sport of polo.

All photos ©Kaylee Wroe Photography