Indio, Calif. – March 28, 2017 – The Eldorado Polo Club’s 23rd Annual Polo Skins Game was played on Sunday, March 26, 2017, in Indio, California. While the Skins always creates much anticipation along with a huge fieldside party, the addition of the USPA Rossmore Cup this season brought the frenzy to an even higher level considering this year’s contest was livestreamed by the USPA Polo Network. The game will be available on demand here later in the week.
The Polo Skins format is exactly like a golf skins competition where each chukker is played as a “Skin.” If a chukker is won, the winner receives the money available. If the teams are tied after a chukker, the amount that was available is then added to the amount to be played for in the next chukker. For the 2017 challenge, the team that scored the most goals overall would put their name on the Rossmore Cup.
The 2017 game, a 12-goal handicapped tournament, was played in front of a huge Clubhouse and west berm crowd. It was an immense gathering of partying faithfuls lining the entire east side, eager to watch Idaho’s Jenny Luttrell-Benardoni and her Cotterell Farms polo team (Luttrell-Benardoni, Ruben Coscia 5, Juan Curbelo 5, Matthew Fonseca 2) rode out against Canadian John Rooney and his Northern Blizzard line-up (Rooney 1, Joe Henderson 4, Patrick Uretz 4, Peter Blake 3).
At the start, Cotterell took immediate control and was rewarded with a penalty 3 opportunity that Curbelo easily converted. The first chukker was half way through as Luttrell-Benardoni grabbed a long pass and impressively ran 145 yards to increase the lead to two. It appeared that Cotterel was going to run away with the initial $3,500 and take the lead. Not so fast however, as Northern Blizzard came back with a big offensive thrust resulting in a Uretz goal. As a result, the Rossmore was tied at two and the initial $3,500 would be added to the following chukker’s $3,500 to make the second chukker worth $7,000.
The momentum that Northern Blizzard grabbed in the first carried – as did the money – to the second as Uretz converted a penalty 2 from the spot to now lead by one. Coscia answered with a field goal and the count was now tied at three apiece. However, Northern Blizzard jumped right back and were once again rewarded with another penalty 2 opportunity that Uretz converted. With just over 30 seconds remaining in the period and the $7,000 comfortably in Northern Blizzard hands, Blake grabbed the ball and ran 260 yards to score. The goal did not matter for the money, but with the Rossmore Cup in play, it would count in the overall score which now stood at 5-3 in favor of Northern Blizzard.
The third chukker, worth $3,500, featured many goal opportunities but not much scoring as Curbelo grabbed the only goal of the chukker, which was enough to put the money into the Cotterell account. The result was a $3,500 halftime lead for Northern Blizzard and a lead of one at 5-4 for the USPA Rossmore Cup.
The small advantage that Cotterell had in the third became bigger in the fourth as Fonseca counted twice and Coscia grabbed his second goal. Keeping Northern Blizzard at bay, Cotterel won the $3,500 to tie the dollar count at $7,000 and they now led the Rossmore by two at 7-5.
Northern Blizzard, quiet on the scoreboard for two chukkers, started to recover in the fifth as Uretz scored from the field to lead by one for the money. Curbelo answered for Cotterel Farms to lead again by two in the overall count. Uretz was able to grab another field goal and the fifth ended with Northern Blizzard cashing the $3,500 royalty and closing to within one for the Rossmore.
The sixth was played even with Northern Blizzard’s Blake scoring on a superb effort from 90 yards and Cotterell’s Curbelo replying with his third from the field. The sixth chukker ended with Cotterell winning the Rossmore Cup by one goal at 9-8. However, there was still $3,500 on the table. As a result, an overtime chukker would be necessary.
The extra chukker did not last very long as Luttrell-Benardoni, with a long, strong, and perfectly placed neckshot from well right of the Northern Blizzard goal set up Fonseca 30 yards out to score. The combined effort gave Cotterell the $3,500 carryover and a tie in the money total at $10,500 each.
Because of her strong and aggressive effort in playing the front end and her ability to get to and move the play, Luttrell-Benardoni was selected as the Most Valuable Player. Negra, played by Coscia in the sixth chukker, went back to the barn wearing the Best Playing Pony blanket.