Apr 17, 2018 4:21 PM


Article Courtesy of Phelps Media Group

The 9th Annual Land Rover Palm Beach International Gay Polo Tournament, held at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida, attracted larger than life crowds for the over-the-top tailgate competition and final of the Founders Cup and the Senator Cup polo matches. Professional polo players Sugar Erskine, Nacho Badiola, Matt Coppola, Joey Casey and Tiffany Busch generously donated their time to quarterback the four Gay Polo League (GPL) teams vying for the coveted trophies.

Matt Coppola, Gus Larrosa, Chip McKenney and Stacie Simpkins of Seminole Casino Coconut Creek
Seminole Casino Coconut Creek, 2018 Senator Cup winners (L to R) - Matt Coppola, Gus Larrosa, Chip McKenney and Stacie Simpkins of Seminole Casino Coconut Creek

After preliminary games leading up to Saturday's festivities, team Goshen Hill (Jed Pearsall, Daniel Bain, Teddy Rekai-Nuttall, Sugar Erskine) defeated team RSM (Bruce Schreiber, Mark Bennett, Phil Tremo, Nacho Badiola) to claim the Founders Cup. After the first chukker, team RSM held on to the lead by one goal when Mark Bennett scored a great shot, which was followed by an exciting breakaway goal by teammate Phil Tremo. However, team Goshen Hill quickly caught up after executing two flawless goals by Daniel Bain to end the first half of play in the lead. Despite a solid comeback attempt from team RSM in the second half of play, Goshen Hill managed to hold on to the lead, taking home the Founders Cup with a final score of 4-3.

Daniel Bain and Bruce Schreiber
Daniel Bain and Bruce Schreiber

The feature match of the tournament took place with Seminole Casino Coconut Creek (Stacie Simpkins, Gus Larrosa, Chip McKenney, Matt Coppola) challenging Cedar Crest Stables (Michael Sahakian, Ken Mayer, Tiffany Busch, Joey Casey) to see who would capture the prized trophy, The Senator Cup.

During the first chukker, Ken Mayer came out strong for his team by quickly scoring a goal which would keep Cedar Crest Stables in the lead at the conclusion of the chukker. Soon enough though, Coppola evened the score in the early minutes of the second with a swift goal of his own. Throughout the remainder of the first half, each team held their ground defensively, leaving both tied 1-all going into halftime.

Stacie Simpkins and Tiffany Busch
Stacie Simpkins and Tiffany Busch

The second half began with team Seminole Casino Coconut Creek gaining the lead in the third chukker with goals from GPL founder, Chip McKenney, and Stacie Simpkins. Teams continued to match each other goal for goal in the fourth and final chukker, ending regulation time tied again 3-all. Forced into sudden death overtime, both teams came out determined to be the first to score, but it was Coppola whose expert skills quickly served victory to his team by scoring the golden goal.

Gus Larrosa
Gus Larrosa holding MVP Disco Mallet Perpetual Trophy

"I'm really happy to participate in the 9th Annual Land Rover Palm Beach International Gay Polo Tournament," said Coppola. "It has been a pleasure to play with Chip, Gus and Stacie. I would like to thank all the sponsors for their generous support." The Coppola family's Wellington tack shop, The Tackeria, also supplied the Best Playing Pony accolades which were awarded to McKenney's brand new pony, Pitucca.

Gus Larrosa of Seminole Casino Coconut Creek was awarded Most Valuable Player of the tournament and presented with the MVP Disco Mallet Perpetual Trophy. "I am so happy that I was chosen to be MVP," said Larrosa. "I have only been playing polo for one year, so it is very special to receive this award. It's very encouraging and it gives me more confidence to continue to play."

All Photos ©Sara Cole