May 30, 2023 4:59 PM
Continuing to celebrate individuals who have made a profound impact on the sport of American Polo, the Point Clear Memorial joined the Stephen Orthwein Memorial Cup and Sunny Hale Memorial as a 2023 Legacy Polo Series tournament. Stemming from a USPA initiative to recognize individual memorial tournaments at the medium-goal level, the Legacy Polo Series aims to celebrate the rich history of the sport.
Held for a second consecutive year at Point Clear Polo Club (Silverhill, Alabama), the Point Clear Memorial included three teams (Cessna, No Trees, Pilot) who paid tribute to a collective group including Niki Pilot, daughter of Pilot team owner Curtis Pilot, who passed away from breast cancer in 2019. The 12- to 14-goal tournament was also played in honor of Camille Corte and Bo Campbell, the mother-in-law and stepfather of Point Clear members Chip Campbell, as well as George and Les Radcliff, relatives to Bobby, Self, Hutch and Herndon Radcliff*.
Following numerous weather delays and scheduling conflicts, the long-awaited finale kicked-off on Tuesday, May 23, pitting No Trees (Craig Duke, Juan Cruz Valerdi, Jeff Blake, Martin Ravina) against Cessna (Chip Campbell, Camp Campbell, Gonzalo Teves, sub. Alfredo Guerreño). Controlling play from the outset, No Trees’ balanced and varied efforts allowed space for all four players to contribute offensively and carry their firmly rooted lead to earn the title 8-5.5.
“The win for me is to see my teammates happy and see my horses do well. That’s what makes me happy.” – No Trees' Martin Ravina
Returning to Point Clear with the same roster construction, Blake shared the continuity of No Trees’ perennial chemistry, “Craig and I have been playing together for almost twenty years and have always tried to include players we enjoy on the team. We have played many times with Martin and have always admired Juan as a player and person. Our strategy is always the same, to do our best and have fun.” Eager to return to the competition, Duke noted, “Julio Arellano wanted to give back to the sport, which he does so eloquently. He rounded-up Curtis Pilot, Chip Campbell, James Miller and myself. We had four teams last year and three teams this year, but we had a lot of rain. It rained every day, so we were lucky to get it off!”
Appreciative to be surrounded by close friends, Duke added, “It’s always a good game when you play on Chip’s field. He’s very generous to allow us to participate.” Despite the bond between Duke and Campbell, Duke continued, “Don’t think there’s not any competition—there’s a lot!” Realigning Cessna’s schedule around multiple postponements prior to the final, Alfredo Guerreño stepped in for Mariano Obregon. Detailing their strategy against a new Cessna, Ravina stated to his team, “Stay tight with the man and discipline because any mistake could cost us a goal or the game. Play man to man, anticipate the player, try to get the ball, and play as a team—always. We trusted each other.”
“All the players on Cessna played excellent, but then again so did our guys... everybody played across the board the best they could, they’re all gentleman and I’m proud to be on the field with them.” – No Trees' Craig Duke
Awarding Cessna 1.5 goals on handicap, No Trees jumped off to an expeditious start from Valerdi followed by back-to-back conversions off the mallet of Duke. Digging in defensively, No Trees held Cessna to just one goal from Camp Campbell, as Ravina added his name to the scoresheet to give No Trees a commanding 6-2.5 lead at the half.
Trading goals to open the second half, Blake blazed past the competition with the assistance of 7-year-old paint Lil Brat to become the final No Trees teammate to hit the goal. Struggling to find a consistent offensive rhythm, a drive from Chip Campbell highlighted Cessna’s determination, but No Trees’ early advantage combined with Duke’s ability to strike from the penalty line ultimately clinched the 8-5.5 victory.
Best Playing Pony was awarded to Lil Brat, a mare played by Jeff Blake in the fourth chukker and owned by Joey Casey. Describing Lil Brat’s best attributes, Blake shared, “She is very athletic with great balance and a soft mouth.” Despite not naming a Most Valuable Player in the tournament, Duke shared his thoughts on the standout performance from Lil Brat, “I would say the horse was the Most Valuable Player and Best Playing Pony! Jeff was riding the horse and blew by several people, including most of the people on our team and scored a goal!”
Elaborating on Two Trees’ winning efforts, Ravina noted, “The win for me is to see my teammates happy and see my horses do well. That’s what makes me happy about a win.” Duke added, “All the players on Cessna played excellent, but then again so did our guys... everybody played across the board the best they could, they’re all gentleman and I’m proud to be on the field with them.”
*Herndon Radcliff is USPA alumnus. 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.
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