May 23, 2022 2:49 PM
Almost one month has passed since Pilot captured the prestigious U.S. Open Polo Championship trophy at International Polo Club Palm Beach (Wellington, Florida), marking the end of the 2022 American high-goal season. It was a record-breaking year for American polo, with twenty teams entering the U.S. Open, the new 16-goal Wellington Polo Tour (WPT) (Wellington, Florida) offering new players an opportunity to compete in medium-goal polo and Port Mayaca Polo Club (Port Mayaca, Florida) hosting weekly tournaments up to the 18-goal level. Amidst all of this, one band of brothers emerged as break-out stars of the high-goal season, all coming together to compete in the U.S. Open Polo Championship for 2022 newcomer La Elina. Those brothers are the Obregons.
Adolfo Cambiaso’s injury changed things overnight for the brothers. Sapo Caset, who played the USPA Gold Cup for La Elina, joined Scone for the U.S. Open Polo Championship. “When Sapo moved to Scone, La Elina had the option to pivot to two 5-goal players. My brother, Facundo, who was part of the organization, called me to see if I was interested in joining the team. I was under contract for the 16-goal, but my patron had no problem with me playing. It was something awesome, I couldn’t believe it,” Juan Martin Obregon shared with CLICKPOLOUSA.
“Jared [Zenni]* called me five days before telling me Sapo left for Scone to see if I was available. I had to change my logistics, as I was going to go to Santa Barbara - the trailers, the horses, everything. Adolfo Cambiaso helped me a lot with the horses,” Geronimo Obregon* added.
CLICKPOLOUSA met with the three brothers to talk about the road to forming La Elina, their goals moving forward and what the future looks like for them.
Facundo, when did you decide to call your brothers?
"When Sapo left, we spoke with Jared about the chance to make a more balanced team with two 5-goal and two 6-goal players. Geronimo is one of Jared’s best friends, so I called Juan Martin later. As the season was nearly over, it was more a matter of us convincing them to stay. It was great, it was the first time we played together in the United States."
What were your expectations?
Juan Martin: "Honestly, I didn't expect much at the beginning. But after losing against a powerful team like Scone in overtime, I think that gave us confidence. We realized we had potential as a team working together."
Geronimo: "We had a good team and played similar polo. Our objective was to play it simple and to move the ball. I think that we had a favorable draw, we played better each game and we suddenly were in the final of the U.S. Open! It was a pity we didn’t have our best game against Pilot, especially as Facundo was awesome. I wish we were at least closer in the score, but despite the loss it was a great triumph for our family."
Are your goals the same after the U.S. Open?
Juan Martin: "In my case, they didn’t change much. My goal is to keep buying horses and improving my batch. This is something that never ends, but you just have to keep trying. I would like to play the high goal in Argentina, to have a team in the Municipalidad and the Camara and maybe one day play the Clasificación. This result only motivates me more."
Geronimo: "My goal always was to win the U.S. Open. We were just one step away and I will try to win it someday. I would also like to focus on Argentina. Last year was my first season alone, it was difficult, but I aimed for that."
Facundo: "When you play at this level, you realize just how important the horses are. I want to keep on investing and improving my lot. It takes a lot of sacrifice, but I will continue and push hard to achieve that."
How will your season continue?
Juan Martin: "I’m going with my family to Chicago [Oak Brook Polo Club in Illinois], where I will be playing the 12-goal season from May to September. I will also be playing with Larry Aschebrook at the Rider Cup in France in June. It will be a very fun season in Chicago."
Facundo: "I’m playing the 12-goal season at Santa Barbara [in California, Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club] for Mokarow Farms. Geronimo is also here playing for Dundas. We played the final match of the U.S. Open on Sunday; on Monday we were travelling to Santa Barbara and on Friday we were playing our first match. It was worth it!"
Geronimo, Prince Harry is playing in Santa Barbara. What can you tell us about him?
"I played against Harry and Los Padres two times already, and luckily we beat them the last time in the Folded Hills Polo Challenge final. Outside the field, he is a great guy, very friendly with everybody. But during the games, he is very competitive. We go very fast and hard, and he is a fierce competitor. We had some challenges, but I think that to play like this is great and, overall, we had a great time."
What do you think of the current state of American polo?
Juan Martin: "The polo is great, as you can play all year round. It’s different from the polo you play in Argentina, but still very competitive, and I think it is one of the best places you can play polo. The 20 teams that played this year in the U.S. Open shows just how much it grew. More teams mean more growth, which means more competitive polo."
Geronimo: "I think it improved especially from a patron's point of view. There were 20 teams in the U.S. Open and more than 10 in the Wellington Polo Tour. You can see there is a lot of movement and that is great. We had nine teams for the 12-goal in Santa Barbara too. With more patrons, you have more players playing competitive tournaments."
Facundo: "A lot of teams played this year in the new WPT, and I think more teams are going to play next year. You have winter in Florida and polo takes place everywhere during summer: New York, Kentucky, Santa Barbara. I see it grow every year."
*Geronimo Obregon and Jared Zenni are Team USPA alumni. 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