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Fri

May

29

REGIONAL PRESIDENT'S CUP

New Bridge Polo & Country Club

10:00 AM ET

Hardscrabble

Panakeia

Fri

May

29

REGIONAL PRESIDENT'S CUP

New Bridge Polo & Country Club

5:00 PM ET

Manderleigh

Upatoi Green

Sun

May

31

REGIONAL PRESIDENT'S CUP

New Bridge Polo & Country Club

10:00 AM ET

Hardscrabble

Manderleigh

Sun

May

31

REGIONAL PRESIDENT'S CUP

Houston Polo Club

11:00 AM ET

T Square Energy/SpecOil

Brown Bears/Whitehall Ranch

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LOCAL WELLINGTON TEAMS JOIN THE BATTLE FOR THE 2020 GAUNTLET OF POLO®

Dec 06, 2019 10:48 AM

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Dutta Corp's Lucas Diaz Alberdi and Patagones' Tomas Garcia del Rio. ©David Lominska
Dutta Corp's Lucas Diaz Alberdi and Patagones' Tomas Garcia del Rio ride off in the 2019 Herbie Pennell Cup Final. ©David Lominska

Anticipating the return of the highly-successful GAUNTLET OF POLO® which yielded a GAUNTLET Champion (Pilot) in its inaugural year, two Wellington-based teams have joined the field of 14 for the first time, each on a personal quest to fulfill their aspirations in the ultimate competition. Operating at peak performance during the 2019 season, Dutta Corp established their dominance to win the Herbie Pennell, Joe Barry and Ylvisaker Cups in a nearly perfect 20-goal tournament sweep. Seeking to raise their game by taking on a new challenge in the 22-goal, Timmy Dutta and Lucas Diaz Alberdi will be competing alongside new teammates Facundo and Mariano Obregon, hoping to replicate their previous success. Also making the step up from 20-goal competition is first-time GAUNTLET participant Patagones, featuring returning players Santiago Toccalino and Tomas Garcia del Rio with the addition of Gonzalo Avendaño and Geronimo Obregon. Motivated by a lifelong dream and a friendly bet to play in the U.S. Open Polo Championship®, Avendaño’s decision to form a 22-goal team marks the execution of a plan deferred and the promise of steep competition.

Dutta Corp's Timmy Dutta carries the ball forward on the U.S. Polo Assn. Field. ©David Lominska
Dutta Corp's Timmy Dutta carries the ball forward on the U.S. Polo Assn. Field. ©David Lominska

Just missing the deadline to enter Dutta Corp in the 2019 GAUNTLET OF POLO, Tim Dutta was happy to see his son Timmy Dutta and Lucas Diaz Alberdi both have the opportunity to gain exposure in the inaugural competition as substitutes for SD Farms and Park Place. “Playing in the U.S. Open Polo Championship® with SD farms was an honor and a great introduction to that level of competition,” Timmy Dutta said. “Now I want more, so we put this team together and we’re coming to win.” Playing together for five years, the brotherly relationship between Timmy and Lucas is at the core of Dutta Corp’s chemistry which is evident both on and off the field. “They grew up together and spend three months together every year in Argentina. They even used to live at Alejandro ‘Piki’ Diaz Alberdi’s house, which is Lucas’ father and our team coach,” Tim Dutta revealed. “The team eats together, stick-and-balls together, trains together and has fun together. As a team we must be able to tell each other our thoughts.” Searching for a couple players who would fit their style and competitiveness, Dutta Corp selected the Obregon brothers and has focused on strengthening their system by building the team’s connection and preparation.

Timmy Dutta, on the ball, fights off a Patagones defender.
Timmy Dutta, on the ball, races ahead of Patagones defender Joaquin Avendaño. ©David Lominska

“I think the GAUNTLET OF POLO® is never to be taken lightly. We are humbled by the success we’ve had, so we keep our noses to the ground and work hard. Hopefully we have luck on our side and everything goes our way in 2020.”  – Tim Dutta, Dutta Corp Team Owner

Spending the months leading up to the season in Argentina playing practices and 22- to 24-goal polo, Dutta Corp has been proactively training and playing together three days a week with the GAUNTLET in mind. “Lucas Diaz Alberdi is playing in the Argentine Open with La Aguada and the Obregons are playing the Cámara de Diputados Cup,” Tim Dutta said. “Mainly what Piki teaches the boys is field awareness so when you have that and the horses are of good quality and fit, it makes for a good team.” Playing practices and spending time together at Alberdi’s Pilar farm, La Mancha, and La Cañada in Buenos Aires, the young team is going up against seasoned veterans of the sport. Entering his sixth season playing polo, Timmy Dutta identified the GAUNTLET as the next stepping stone to continue growing in his career. “For Dutta Corp it was the most logical decision to move up with the bigger fish,” Timmy Dutta said. “We succeeded in the 20-goal tournaments and we knew we had a chance with the organization we have built to be competitive at the 22-goal level. Stepping up our game as an organization shows we are growing rapidly and we are ready to take on the challenge.”

Taking on not only the grueling challenge of the ultimate test, but also a personal challenge of his own, Patagones’ team owner Gonzalo Avendaño’s journey is a true testament to the power of hard work and a resilient spirit. Visiting the United States for the first time when he was 16-years-old, the Argentine-native and second-generation polo player moved to Florida a decade later where his three sons (Santiago, Benjamin, Joaquin) were born. Quitting polo for twenty years to work in investment banking, private banking, and derivatives sales, attend college and raise his family, Avendaño returned to polo in his forties. Following a serious polo accident three years ago, Avendaño suffered the return of preexisting arrhythmia which again forced him to stop playing polo. “It took a year for my heartrate to return to normal and another year to lose the weight I had gained,” Avendaño revealed. “Last November I decided to make a big effort to get back into shape because I felt I could still play competitively.” Playing at the 26-goal level in 2018, Avendaño realized he could still compete at a high level and with the encouragement of his sons decided the time was right to pursue the U.S. Open Polo Championship®, fulfilling a longstanding bet with his brother-in-law from 2004.

Patagones' Tomas Garcia del Rio. ©David Lominska
Patagones' Tomas Garcia del Rio. ©David Lominska

“Now I have the organization, the horses, the facilities, and the experience where I feel ready to play competitively. I never felt before that Patagones was mature enough to be in the final, until now. I feel we have a chance to perform well in the GAUNTLET.”  – Gonzalo Avendaño, Patagones Team Owner

Similar to Dutta Corp, hometown rival Patagones also made early preparations for the GAUNTLET by playing 20- and 24-goal polo in Argentina beginning in September. “Santiago Toccalino is playing in the Argentine Open with Las Monjitas so we can only play practices with him. We will also play practices with Geronimo Obregon, but not until the last month of the season,” Avendaño said. “We are already training with Tomas Garcia del Rio and everything that we do is focused on the 22-goal season in Wellington.” Playing 22- to 24-goal level practices three times per week and sometimes four times a week if there are games, Patagones is taking full advantage of the time to iron out any kinks in their system early. Reuniting again with Santiago Toccalino and Tomas Garcia del Rio after playing the 26-goal together last season, Gonzalo prioritizes building a team with people who he likes. “I chose my team for the GAUNTLET because I feel comfortable with them and we enjoy being together,” Avendaño said. “We are all positive on the field and even though we make mistakes, we never stop, and think ahead to the next play. I always build our teams the same way, looking first at the person, then the player second.” Although still adjusting to the rigors of high-goal competition, Avendaño is putting in the effort to set Patagones up for success, determined to not allow his injury to keep him from enjoying the sport he loves.

Santiago Toccalino prepares for a backshot. ©David Lominska
Santiago Toccalino prepares for a backshot. ©David Lominska

Making their final preparations with the GAUNTLET OF POLO® now less than two months away, both teams are pulsating with adrenaline as the opportunity to make history is almost upon them. Going up against the formidable duo of Facundo and Gonzalito Pieres, Timmy Dutta is ready to take what he has learned from his former teammates and implement that strategy in the GAUNTLET. “Playing with them [Pilot] in the 2018 Iglehart Cup was an honor and I’m grateful to have been given the chance, but now we have to go and try to beat them,” Timmy Dutta said. Also proud to compete for the U.S. Open Polo Championship® although later in life than he had intended, Gonzalo Avendaño is shipping his best seven horses from his Patagones breeding operation in Argentina, bringing the team's total horsepower to more than 100 head for the season. Holding nothing back, Dutta Corp and Patagones are poised to deliver a strong 22-goal season as they vie for the GAUNTLET and their own personal triumph.

Watch these Wellington teams along with the returning 12 as they compete for the C.V. Whitney Cup, the first tournament of the GAUNTLET OF POLO® beginning on February 1, 2020. The USPA Polo Network will livestream all games of the GAUNTLET and tickets are available on uspolo.org.

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