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PARK PLACE AIM FOR THE GAUNTLET FOLLOWING EXHILARATING C.V. WHITNEY CUP® REPEAT VICTORY

Feb 28, 2022 10:02 PM

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2022 C.V. Whitney Cup® Champions: Park Place- Josh Hyde, Juan Britos, Andrey Borodin, Hilario Ulloa, Cody Ellis.
2022 C.V. Whitney Cup® Champions: Park Place - Josh Hyde, Juan Britos, Andrey Borodin, Hilario Ulloa, Cody Ellis.

Facing-off for the second consecutive year in the C.V. Whitney Cup® final, competitive rivals Park Place (Josh Hyde, Juan Britos, Hilario Ulloa, Cody Ellis*) and Scone (David Paradice, Kristos “Keko” Magrini*, Poroto Cambiaso, Adolfo Cambiaso) descended on U.S. Polo Assn. Field 1 for a riveting rematch at International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC) in Wellington, Florida.

Forcing the 2021 final into overtime, reigning champions Park Place led by C.V. Whitney Cup® title holder (2010, 2013, 2021) Hilario Ulloa once again reveled in the daunting task of overcoming the firepower of an undefeated Scone and the electrifying father-son duo of Poroto, and record holding seven-time C.V. Whitney Cup® (1991, 1995, 1996, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2018) champion Adolfo Cambiaso. Leaning into the physicality of the game, Ulloa’s spectacular eight-goal feat propelled Park Place back into the winner’s circle 14-11, securing back-to-back C.V. Whitney Cup® titles, $50,000 in prize money and the opportunity to continue their bid to be crowned 2022 GAUNTLET OF POLO® champions.

Cody Ellis has been crucial to Park Place's success in the C.V. Whitney Cup® with his ability to move the ball downfield.
Cody Ellis has been crucial to Park Place's success in the C.V. Whitney Cup® with his ability to move the ball down field.

Pairing veterans Britos and Ulloa with the youthful energy of Ellis and Hyde has proven to be an effective combination for Park Place during the 2022 high-goal season. Recruiting 17-year-old Hyde following a 6-goal tournament with team manager Ash Price in England, Park Place also welcomed the addition of Ellis to their roster after his experience as a strong substitute and alternate in high-goal polo. Spending six weeks in Argentina with Ulloa on his farm, Ellis recalled the valuable experience. “I played a 20-goal tournament [in Argentina] with Hilario [Ulloa] and Jack Whitman*, which we ended up winning. I got a call in September; it was a bit of an odd call, because I kinda got told I wasn't the first option, they had some other options that didn't work out. But I was told the opportunity was there if I wanted it, so I have and I’ve made the most of it.”

Curbing Scone's Adolfo Cambiaso took a full Park Place team effort led by Hilario Ulloa and Juan Britos.
Curbing Scone's Adolfo Cambiaso took a full Park Place team effort led by Hilario Ulloa and Juan Britos.

Wholeheartedly agreeing, Ulloa was quick to compliment Ellis’ development, “Cody is willing to learn every single day, anything you tell him, he’s willing to do it. Week by week he started to show a big improvement—in the quarterfinals and semifinals he played unbelievable.” Coach Julio Arellano also had nothing but praise for both young players, “they work so hard. They text me every day and say, ‘what time today?’” Respecting the challenge ahead, Arellano continued, “we’ve been having meetings and watching video. [When] Adolfo [Cambiaso] and Poroto [Cambiaso] rotate with Keko [Magrini], it’s crazy. There’s really no way to stop it. Adolfo [Cambiaso] is such a good player, it’s incredible what things he can make happen. It’s never over.” Still, Arellano kept his unwavering faith in Park Place’s ability to overcome any challenge in their way, “we work really well together and don’t get down on each other. We can open up the game [and] it really benefits us.”

“[We] were a completely different team. In the first half they dominated, it was their game. I knew in [that] moment we needed to start playing our game.”  – Hilario Ulloa

Awarding Scone one goal on handicap, Poroto Cambiaso jumpstarted an early scoring drive with back-to-back goals on a Penalty 5 from distance, followed by an undefended drive downfield. Ulloa coming into final leading the tournament with eighteen goals from the field, quickly responded for Park Place. Following a Penalty 3 conversion from Scone’s Magrini, Ulloa kept the pressure on his opponents scoring two more goals, while teammate Hyde knocked the ball through the posts to finish a strong team drive and tie the game 4-all.

Ranking first in fouls committed by a team, with fourteen per game in the tournament, Park Place sent Scone’s team leading penalty shooter Magrini back to the penalty line for another successful conversion, accompanied shortly after by Magrini’s first from the field to kick-off the third chukker. Noting the importance of curbing their fouls, Ulloa stated, “we had a lot of fouls against Coca-Cola and Pilot [in bracket play]. That was the breaking point, we then put our focus on that. In our game against La Indiana in the semifinals we rallied to not give away easy penalties.” Facing a formidable challenge in Scone’s number one rated defense, Ulloa capitalized on Park Place’s second Penalty 4 opportunity to hit the goal again from the 60-yard line, as Scone took a slim 8-5 lead at halftime.

Kristos "Keko" Magrini led scone with eight goals, including five from the penalty line.
Kristos "Keko" Magrini led Scone with eight goals, including five from the penalty line.

Trailing by three, Park Place utilized their extended half time to regroup, “we were a bit anxious in the beginning, not making good passes and [committing] silly fouls,” noted Ulloa. “I think we started a little timid,” added Ellis, “we had a great talk and agreed we had to take them head on.”

“Scone is an amazing team with the quality of players they have. We were in a rush and having a hard time in the beginning. Once we slowed down and started playing more as a team, we made our shots.”  – Juan Britos

Park Place began a stunning second half comeback of seven unanswered goals, with Britos igniting the offensive blitz working through traffic to escort the ball through the posts. Speaking to their offensive resurgence Ulloa expressed, “[we] were a completely different team. In the first half they dominated, it was their game. I knew in [that] moment we needed to start playing our game, making passes, and hitting long balls. Once we relaxed, we started to play the game we wanted.” Building on Britos’ ability to guide the ball past multiple Scone defenders, the physicality of the match heightened, resulting in two more goals for Ulloa from the penalty line to re-tie the game 8-all.

Relying on horsepower and strong communication to catch Scone off-guard, Park Place continued their revived offense with Ellis as the final Park Place teammate to add his name to the scoreboard, while Britos and Ulloa combined for another three goals. Pushed back on their heels, Magrini finally stopped Park Place’s dominant run on a Penalty 3.

Reflecting on Park Place’s firm command over the fifth chukker, Ellis stated, “we played our game and it all clicked. Our [key] was to get organized on defense. In the first half, we were slow. After that, we had a cool mind and everything worked.” Britos echoed the same sentiments as Ellis, “Scone is an amazing team with the quality of players they have. We were in a rush and having a hard time in the beginning. Once we slowed down and started playing more as a team, we made our shots.”

Entering the final chukker of play, Scone tried to recapture the offensive power they held in the first half; however, a momentum building goal from Magrini was immediately snuffed out with a spectacular end-to-end response from Britos. Trailing 11-13 and quickly running out of time, Scone’s inability to generate plays outside of their defensive end proved costly, as a final Penalty 3 for Britos sealed the hard-fought final in favor of the defending champions 14-11.

Still processing the reality of becoming a C.V. Whitney Cup® Champion, Ellis shared, “It’s been unbelievable. The entire Park Place organization has been so good to me and helpful in everything I need. Everybody’s taken their time to help me get better. Now I’m here and to have this team backing me up all the way is a huge difference.”

Experiencing his first high-goal tournament and first trip to the United States, Hyde couldn’t have been more elated, “It’s exhilarating! It was very close throughout the game, they always had us on edge. The whole organization has been fantastic, and they’ve made me feel at home. Julio [Arellano] is an amazing coach. I’ve learned so much listening about attacking, defending, riding and winning the right-of-way.”

Hilario Ulloa and Juan Britos embrace following their second consecutive C.V. Whitney Cup® victory.
Hilario Ulloa and Juan Britos embrace following their second consecutive C.V. Whitney Cup® victory.

Adding a fourth title to his illustrious C.V. Whitney Cup® collection, Ulloa remains grateful for the effort and successes of Park Place, “It’s been great in the last four years [to] build an organization, with a competitive team and great horses. Every time Park Place plays, [we] have a competitive chance to win.” Britos added, "this team deserves it. With all the people working behind the scenes, and Andrey [Borodin] came today to watch the final—he deserves it more than anyone. We're very happy for the team and everyone in the organization."

Ready to celebrate, an elated Hyde could be heard exclaiming, “no more chicken!” Elaborating on what might be the start of a new pregame ritual, Arellano explained, "he’s [Josh Hyde] been eating chicken because steaks are too expensive. Before every game he’s had chicken, and yesterday at the team meeting he said, ‘I’ve bought two steaks, how do I cook them?’ So, I told him how to cook them. Now that we’ve won, no more chicken, it’s steak going forward!”

Most Valuable Player Juan Britos received a Peloton Bike. Pictured with Whitney Miller Douglass, Royal Douglass III and USPA Board Member Cecilia Cochran.
Most Valuable Player Juan Britos received a Peloton Bike. Presented by USPA Governor at Large Cecilia Cochran and pictured with Whitney Miller Douglass and Royal Douglass III.

Contributing four goals and two assists for Park Place, Juan Britos was named Most Valuable Player, while El Overo Indigena (Signo x India), a 9-year-old bay mare, played by Britos in the second and fifth chukkers and owned by Park Place, took home Best Play Pony honors.

Best Playing Pony- El Overo Indigena. Played by Juan Britos. Owned by Park Place. Pictured with Stevie Orthwein, Jose Belaustegui, Pablo Salinas, Jose Levia, Matias Maurer, Roman Gonzalez, Juan Pablo Saadi.
Best Playing Pony, El Overo Indigena, played by Juan Britos and owned by Park Place. Presented by Florida Circuit Governor Stephen Orthwein Jr. and pictured with Jose Belaustegui, Pablo Salinas, Jose Levia, Matias Maurer, Roman Gonzalez and Juan Pablo Saadi.

Lavinia Marea (Loyal Force x Fax Mareda), a 9-year-old chestnut mare, owned by Park Place and played by Hilario Ulloa in the second and sixth chukkers was named AAP Argentine Bred Best Playing Pony. “She comes from one of my best mares,” said Ulloa, “she’s the first of three from her [Fax Mareda] that are all playing high-goal, and she’s [Lavinia Marea] playing amazing.”

AAP Argentine Bred Best Playing Pony- Lavinia Marea. Played by Hilario Ulloa and owned by Park Place. Pictured with Stevie Orthwein, Lauro Penaloza, Alexis Gonzalez, Marcelo Kibis, Agustin Menta, Hernan Martinez, Juan Pablo Saadi.
AAP Argentine Bred Best Playing Pony, Lavinia Marea, played by Hilario Ulloa and owned by Park Place. Presented by Florida Circuit Governor Stephen Orthwein Jr. and pictured with Lauro Penaloza, Alexis Gonzalez, Marcelo Kibis, Agustin Menta, Hernan Martinez and Juan Pablo Saadi.

Taking time to enjoy the moment, Park Place will soon be back in action in the USPA Gold Cup® as they set their sights on becoming the second team to capture the GAUNTLET OF POLO®. “This is just the first tournament,” noted Ulloa, “it’s great to have a confident team for the next two tournaments and [we] still have many horses that have yet to play. It’s great to start on the right foot with a strong team.” “Our plan is to win all three,” added Ellis, “We’ve got the first one done against one of the toughest teams here. We’ve got to get ready for the Gold Cup and start again!”

Juan Britos, Andrey Borodin, Hilario Ulloa,  and Park Place Manager Ash Price will now look ahead to the USPA Gold Cup®
Juan Britos, team owner Andrey Borodin, Hilario Ulloa and Park Place Manager Ash Price will now look ahead to the USPA Gold Cup®

Park Place and Scone will both return to action in GAUNTLET OF POLO®’s second leg of competition, the USPA Gold Cup® beginning Tuesday, March 1. Joined by the remaining seven teams from the C.V. Whitney Cup® competition, individual entries have further expanded the toughest test in polo to include four new teams, for a total of thirteen battling for the coveted USPA Gold Cup® trophy.

C.V. Whitney Cup®- Final Stats
Park Place Final Stats.
Scone Final Stats.

*Kristos ‘Keko’ Magrini are and Jack Whitman Active Team USPA Members. Cody Ellis is a Graduating Team USPA Member. 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 courtesy of ©David Lominska.

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