Monthly Archives: April 2014
21 year old Jesse Bray, a graduate of the Eldorado Junior Polo Program, has been selected as the winner of the USPA Equus & Co. Award and the $10,000 prize that goes with it. Bray was chosen over two other finalists. The honor goes to the Team USPA member who has best demonstrated outstanding leadership and commitment to growing the sport of polo.
Bray, son of Graham and Debbie Bray, first started playing polo in the Pee Wee and Junior programs at Eldorado and moved into USPA Interscholastic Polo and was a member of the Eldorado team that won the 2010 USPA Interscholastic Tournament. As well as that national championship, Bray – currently rated at 4 goals – has played on winning teams at the Santa Barbara Polo Club, has won the Spreckles Cup at the San Diego Polo Club, and just recently was a member of the Los Banditos Team that won the 20th annual Polo Skins Game and as well was chosen as the MVP.
The final game of the 2014 Pacific Coast Governor’s Cup was a contest between two very dissimilar teams – August (Champ) Roth’s Domrey, which had never been to a Governor’s Cup final and Reg Whyte’s Thermal, which had been there just 12 months earlier. Different as well with Domrey being nothing more than a group of so-called young guns going up against the veteran line-up of Thermal.
The younger opposition consisted of Roth along with Doug Blumenthal, Juan Jose Gonzalez, and Taylor Freeman. The veteran group consisted of Whyte (tournament winner in 2010) and his longtime farmhands Fergus Gould and Nicolas Maciel. Joining this group was impressive newcomer Brooke Faber.
The opening frame in the four period tournament was pretty much controlled by Thermal and the constant pressure they applied allowed Maciel to score twice. The first on a penalty number four and the second on a 40 yard opportunity. As a result, Thermal led by a pair at 2 – 0 going to the second.
Domrey got themselves together in the early second chukker and apparently had sorted themselves out as Gonzalez grabbed a pass and made a pretty run to score. Thermal answered with more sustained pressure that was rewarded with another open goal opportunity (penalty 2) that Maciel converted. The youngsters, however, didn’t succumb as they returned with constant pressure of their own and Blumenthal nailed two 30 yard free-throws and the half ended with each team having counted three goals apiece – five from penalty shots.
The third period was somewhat choppy with both teams unable to get much going at all. Freeman, in spite of this, was able to grab an opportunity to score and Roth and Co. led by one. Maciel replied with another open goal conversion for the Whyte group and the third ended in a tie at four.
As fragmented as the third stanza was, the fourth opened up as both teams started to play polo the way it was intended. The result was a nice run and strike by Blumenthal to put Domrey up by one. The farmers obviously weren’t done though as Gould took over and scored toward the end of regulation to tie the count at five – sending the game to overtime.
The tie-breaker was, in a word, strange as neither team really was able to do much. With the play moving clumsingly toward the Thermal goal in favor of Domrey, Gould fell off and play was allowed to continue with Domrey advancing. Very shortly after however, a whistle sounded and play was halted. Those watching weren’t sure why the play stopped but the prevailing thought was that it was either because Gould had gone off or his horse had interfered with the advancing play. In fact, a foul had been called to favor Domrey and, with most unaware, Blumenthal converted a penalty two from less than 30 yards and it was over as Domrey became the 2014 Pacific Coast Governor’s Cup winners – and August became a Champ.
As well as having his name engraved on the big trophy, Gonzalez was selected as the Most Valuable Player and his third chukker mare, Sula, was chosen as the Best Playing Pony.
2014 Pacific Coast Governor’s Cup
Domrey 6 – August Roth .5, Doug Blumenthal 2, Juan Jose Gonzalez 2, Taylor Freeman 1.5.
Thermal 6 – Reg Whyte, Brooke Faber -1, Fergus Gould4, Nicolas Maciel 3.
Dave Dollinger’s Los Banditos polo team came into the 20th annual Skins Tournament – fresh off their victory in the Jason Memorial – as the favorites and certainly appeared to be up to the task as they breezed through the qualifiers with a perfect record. Their opponent in the Sunday afternoon final would be another team with a perfect record out of the preliminaries – John Rooney and his Northern Blizzard invaders.
The Bandit’s lineup for the final – worth $5000 per chukker – would be a little different as Craig Steinke suited up for the always busy Dollinger and Jake Devane would once again step in for the, once again, unavailable Chad Bowman. The strong duo of Mariano Fassetta and Jesse Bray filled out the card. The Rooney group would remain unchanged with Rooney, Joe Henderson, Juan Curbello, and Tim Rudy mounting up.
The first $5000 period saw the Bandits jump out to a quick lead as Devane – much like his start in the Jason – grabbed a Fassetta pass at the initial throw-in and run easily to score. Fassetta himself scored a pair after that and the first ‘skin’ was in possession of Dollinger’s bunch by a count of 3 – 0.
The Bandits kept the pressure on in the early part of the second as Bray counted his first of the afternoon. Northern Blizzard, however, recovered as Henderson and Curbelo counted markers of their own and the Rooney group took the second award with a 2 – 1 ‘victory’.
After two very fast chukkers, the third slowed down considerably as the teams traded goals. Bray started with a penalty three conversion and Henderson counted from the field. Bray then scored another free-throw from 40 yards and Henderson replied again – this time on a text book penalty four strike. With the tie score of 2 – 2, the first carryover of the afternoon was created and the half ended with each team taking $5000.00. The game score – the winner of which would receive the Richard Roenisch bronzes – at this point was 6 – 4 to favor Los Banditos.
With the carryover from the third period, the fourth would be played for $10,000. Fassetta scored his third of the day, on a perfect setup from Bray, who then counted his fourth and the $10,000 available now belonged to the Bandits. They were also in control of the overall game score by a count of 8 – 4.
The Canadian cold air raged in the penultimate stanza as the Rooney oil workers took control and struck for four unanswered goals. Rooney himself scored twice as Curbelo and Rudy grabbed one each. Northern Blizzard was back in it with the $5,000 royalty and trailed by only that amount with one ‘game’ left. The overall count was now tied at eight.
Los Banditos came back in the final frame as Fassetta – again set up by Bray – scored two quick goals before Rooney scored again for his group. Unfortunately that was it for the invaders from the north as Fassetta notched another and the final chukker went to Los Banditos by a count of 3 – 1, and gave the Bandits the Polo Skins Game victory by a count of $20,000.00 to $10,000. Along with the larger payday, Los Banditos grabbed the bronzes with an overall game win of 11 – 9.
Based on his ability to read situations and act correctly and unselfishly, Bray was selected as the Most Valuable Player and Naranjo, owned by Ron Bonaguidi and played by Fassetta in the fourth period, was named the Best Playing Pony.
2014 Polo Skins Game
Los Banditos 12 – Craig Steinke 1 (sub for Dollinger 1), Mariano Fassetta 5, Jesse Bray 4, Jake Devane 1 (sub for Bowman 1).
Northern Blizzard 12 – John Rooney 1, Joe Henderson 4, Juan Curbelo 4, Tim Rudy 3.