On Sunday, August 20th, Oak Brook Polo Club defeated India 7-4 to win the Butler Challenge Cup, the second match of the “International Series.” Over 600 spectators gathered at the Prince of Wales Field to cheer on Oak Brook and welcome back, for the third straight year, the team from Delhi and Anandpur Sahib, India.
Captained by Vikram Singh Sodhi (#2), the team was comprised of Sachin Sarbalia (#1, Hcap-0), Tarun Bilwal (#3, Hcap-2) and local, honorary Indian for the match Mariano Gutierrez (#4, Hcap-4). Oak Brook’s team was led by Jim Drury (#4), and included Shailendra Sign (#1, Hcap-0), Tomas Obregon (#2, Hcap-4) and Horacio Onetto (#3, Hcap-4).
The four chukker match began after Reute Butler, granddaughter to Oak Brook founder Paul Butler and Friends of Conservation President, did the traditional ball roll in. India started the match with one goal on handicap. As they got acquainted with their new mounts, the Oak brook team was quick to score the first three goals –the first from Onetto, then two in a row from Obregon. Fouled half way through the first chukker, India was awarded a penalty 4, through which Gutierrez converted for India’s second goal. Oak Brook’s Onetto replied with another goal he dribbled through seven other players to finish out the chukker 4-2.
The second chukker was scoreless for Oak Brook but not without some unexpected activity. Adding to the excitement of field side seating, a member of each team mistakenly lobbed the ball into the stands on two separate occasions. Luckily no-one was hurt, and the match continued. India’s Gutierrez managed to score off a nice long and lifted shot from 75 yards to mark a half time score of 4-3 Oak Brook.
After the traditional half-time divot stomp, the third chukker began. Oak Brook’s Drury played a patient game, waiting up front for a pass to score off of. He got in a couple of good runs towards the goal, only to be hooked by India’s defense in the last 30 yards. Bilwal seemed to be on his best pony for this chukker and made many of the plays for India – especially with his strong back hand. Sarbalia was well positioned to pick up a long pass from Gutierrez, and took it to goal for India. Onetto scored one goal in regular play, and one off a penalty 6 to end the third chukker 6-4 Oak Brook
For the fourth and final chukker India’s Singh got a couple of breakaway plays on the big grey he was riding, but was held at the 30yd line. Captain Singh Sodhi played a strong, steady, defensive game holding Oak Brook from his goal line. Obregon scored and the match ended 7-4 leaving Oak Brook as the keepers of the Butler Challenge Cup for 2017. Sarbalia received MVP honors and Best Playing Pony went to the mare, “Gloria” (owned and trained by Tomas Obregon). Oak Brook Polo Club’s final match in the “International Polo Series” is Sunday, September 10th against Great Britain.
2017 marks Oak Brook Polo Club’s 95th season as one of the nation’s oldest polo clubs in operation today and fourth oldest sports property in Chicago. Once considered the “polo capital” of the world Oak Brook was the destination for American Polo players and enthusiasts.
Oak Brook Polo Club is located at 2606 York Road, seventeen miles from downtown Chicago. A variety of ticket options are available at www.oakbrookpoloclub.com. For general information, event scheduling, and parking directions, please call 630.368.5095.
About Oak Brook Polo Club
Founded in 1922 by legendary businessman, Paul Butler, the Oak Brook Polo Club is an American Polo treasure and one of the oldest polo clubs in the United States. It was once the sport’s epicenter for elite professional polo in the United States and served as home to the U.S. Open Polo Championship for twenty-four straight seasons and other prestigious international and national polo tournaments. For decades, the Club has been a popular Sunday tradition and social scene known for entertaining Hollywood celebrities, dignitaries, royalty and Chicago’s distinguished. Today, Oak Brook Polo Club hosts several Sunday matches and continues to attract thousands of fascinated spectators who marvel at the athleticism and majesty of this timeless sport.
Photos by Time Stops Photography and Karl Knapp Photography