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RIDGWAY HEMP AND HANALEI BAY VICTORIOUS IN CHAMPIONS CUP AND LIONS CUP FINALS AT EMPIRE POLO CLUB

Apr 02, 2019 2:10 PM

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The conclusion to the 2019 season at Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, produced two exciting finals in front of the spectators on Field 1. The highly anticipated 8-goal Champions Cup Final resulted in Ridgway Hemp claiming the title with a dominant performance in the 15-8 victory over Spindrift. Hanalei Bay defeated Empire 7-4 to capture the 4-goal Lions Cup.

CHAMPIONS CUP

Ridgway Hemp won the 8-Goal Champions Cup and took home a cash prize of $56,250. (L to R) Carlos Hernandez, Quinn Evans, Beau Staley, Memo Gracida.
Ridgway Hemp won the 8-Goal Champions Cup and took home a cash prize of $56,250. (L to R) Carlos Hernandez, Quinn Evans, Beau Staley, Memo Gracida.

In a game of two halves livestreamed on the USPA Polo Network, Spindrift (Omar Mangalji, John Bickford, Leandro Floccari, Juan Curbelo) matched Ridgway Hemp (Beau Staley, Quinn Evans, Carlitos Hernandez, Memo Gracida) to keep the score within one by the end of the opening half. An impressive defensive strategy in the second half for Ridgway Hemp limited Spindrift to just two goals. Possession favored Ridgway Hemp throughout the game, with the duo of Hernandez and Gracida working effectively together to win an astounding 17 throw-ins and score 14 goals between them.

Both teams scored runs in the early stages of the game, with John Bickford striking first from the field for Spindrift, but Ridgway Hemp responded with three unanswered goals to finish the first chukker. Spindrift quickly erased the deficit with the efforts of Curbelo, who produced a brilliant second chukker, shooting a perfect three for three from the field and converting a Penalty 2, giving his team the 5-4 lead. The back-and-forth affair continued after Ridgway Hemp reclaimed the lead with three field goals of their own to hold the slim one-goal edge heading into halftime 7-6.

Most Valuable Player Carlos Hernandez with Alex Haagen, III.
Most Valuable Player Carlos Hernandez with Empire Polo Club owner Alex Haagen, III.

The game shifted in the second half with dominance from the throw-in line paying off for Ridgway Hemp, allowing them to keep possession and launch a relentless attack. Hernandez scored twice in the fourth, extending Ridgway Hemp’s lead by three, while his teammates excelled defensively to limit Spindrift to a single goal. Gracida joined Hernandez with six total goals to his credit after claiming a Penalty 1 and converting a Penalty 4, securing a large lead for Ridgway Hemp with just one chukker remaining. The duo of Hernandez and Gracida proved to be too much for Spindrift to contain, adding three more goals to their team’s total, earning the 15-8 victory and capturing the Champions Cup title.

Best Playing Pony: Stripes, owned and played by Memo Gracida, pictured with Diego Zerate.
Best Playing Pony: Stripes, owned and played by Memo Gracida, pictured with Diego Zerate.

Carlos Hernandez was named Most Valuable Player with six total goals scored. Best Playing Pony honors were awarded to five-year-old Stripes, owned and played by Memo Gracida. Bred by La Herradura in Argentina, Gracida described the bay mare (Bingo/Bien Equalizada) as, "a champion mare, the best I have ridden equal to any of my horses."

Game Stats

LIONS CUP

Hanalei Bay won the 4-Goal Lions Cup Final and took home a cash prize of $12,750. (L to R) Krista Bonaguidi, Joe Coors, Ignacio Saracco, and Luis Saracco, presented by Scott Walker of the USPA.
Hanalei Bay won the 4-Goal Lions Cup Finals and took home a cash prize of $12,750. (L to R) Krista Bonaguidi, Joe Coors, Ignacio Saracco, and Luis Saracco, presented by USPA Governor-at-Large Scott Walker.

Earlier in the day on Field 1, Hanalei Bay (Krista Bonaguidi, Joe Coors, Ignacio Saraccio, Luis Saraccio) led throughout the Lions Cup Final against Empire (Riley Jordan, Rob Scapa, Kyle Fargey, Jessica Bailey), taking advantage of 11 Empire fouls to gain extra possessions and outscore their opponents. Joe Coors converted a Penalty 2 to start off the scoring, while Ignacio Saraccio quickly followed with a goal from the field, giving Hanalei Bay the early 2-0 lead by the end of the first. Headed towards the half, Kyle Fargey strived to even the score, adding two goals from the field, but foul trouble continued to be a factor. Coors converted his second Penalty 2 of the game in the second, maintaining Hanalei Bay’s two-goal lead headed into halftime.

Empire Polo Team was the runner-up in the 4-Goal Lions Cup Final. They took home a cash prize of $4,250. (L to R) Kyle Fargey, Riley Jordan, Danielle and Greg Rubino of Classic Club, Jessica Bailey, Rob Scapa and Alex Haagen, III.
Empire Polo Team was the runner-up in the 4-Goal Lions Cup Final. They took home a cash prize of $4,250. (L to R) Kyle Fargey, Riley Jordan, Danielle and Greg Rubino of Classic Club, Jessica Bailey, Rob Scapa and Alex Haagen, III.

Spectators’ excitement increased to begin the second half after Fargey converted his third goal of the game on a Penalty 6, bringing Empire back within one goal. As was the case throughout the game, Hanalei Bay’s Coors quickly responded with a field goal of his own to restore his team’s two-goal advantage. The consistent attack of Hanalei Bay continued to create difficulties for the Empire defense which conceded their third Penalty 2 converted by Luis Saraccio. Trailing by three, Empire pushed to make a late comeback in the sixth, but Coors’ fifth goal of the game sealed the victory. A late goal by Riley Jordan ultimately not enough to overtake the lead, Hanalei Bay claimed the Lions Cup with the 7-4 victory. Luis Saraccio was named Most Valuable Player. Best Playing Pony honors were presented to Maggie, owned and played by Joe Coors.

All photos courtesy ©Jim Bremner.

USPA

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