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STG DETHRONE LOCKTON 12-5 TO CAPTURE $30K CHAMPIONS CUP

Apr 04, 2017 1:17 PM

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2017 Champions Cup Winners: STG - John Ziegler, John Bickford, Max Menini, Ignacio Deltour.
2017 Champions Cup Winners: STG - John Ziegler, John Bickford, Max Menini, Ignacio Deltour.

The Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, hosted the seventh edition of the Champions Cup 8-goal this past Sunday, April 2. Established in 2011, the tournament format is especially unique as there is major prize money on the line—$40,000 to be exact. Teams pay an entry fee which the club matches. Unlike other money games, the only deciding factor is the final score. The victors garner seventy-five percent of the total prize money available while the runner-up collects the remaining twenty-five percent. A unique feature considering the majority of prize money tournaments are geared towards a mid- to high-goal level of polo.

2016 defending champions Lockton (Tim Kelly, Athena Malin, Bryan Middleton, Hernan Tejera, Jim Wright*) faced off against STG (John Ziegler, John Bickford, Max Menini, Ignacio Deltour) in front of a packed Sunday crowd for the most highly-anticipated event of the season. The game got off to a rocky start as Lockton quickly surrendered two goals on penalty 2 conversions to STG who took an early two-goal lead. Field goals by Bryan Middleton kept Lockton in the game, but 5-goaler Max Menini scored back-to-back goals in the second to widen the STG lead 5-2. Teams traded goals in the third maintaining the gap 7-4 at the half.

Most Valuable Player John Bickford.
Most Valuable Player John Bickford.

Lockton exhibited excellent defense in the fourth containing STG to a single goal, a penalty 4 conversion from Ignacio Deltour. The teams traded goals in the fifth, but a missed STG penalty 3 goal opportunity kept STG in a comfortable position 9-5 entering the final chukker. A penalty 2 conversion for STG at the beginning of the sixth, put STG in the double digits, doubling their lead over Lockton 10-5. $30,000 on the line, the combined efforts of STG’s Menini and Deltour proved unstoppable as they scored two unanswered field goals. The final score 12-5, STG claimed the 2017 Champions Cup title and the $30,000 check. Lockton did not go home empty handed however, receiving $10,000 for their efforts.

John Bickford was awarded Most Valuable Player contributing three goals on the day for his STG team. Best Playing Pony honors were presented to seven-year-old gray mare Shizy Wizzy played by Deltour and owned by Vladimir Rivkin.

Best Playing Pony Shizy Wizzy played by Ignacio Deltour owned by Vladimir Rivkin.
Best Playing Pony Shizy Wizzy played by Ignacio Deltour owned by Vladimir Rivkin, pictured with "Kilo" and Deltour.

*Jim Wright 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 courtesy of Jim Bremner.

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