The Oak Brook Polo Club is renowned for welcoming teams from other countries as well as participating in friendly matches and tournaments abroad. In early March, the Oak Brook Polo team traveled to India, the first time in more than three decades, to compete in a series of arena polo matches in Delhi and Anandpur Sahib, a city in the state of Punjab, India. The team representing Oak Brook consisted Horacio Onetto, captain (Arena Hcap: 6), Tomas “Toto” Obregon (Arena Hcap: 4), and Derek Berg (Arena Hcap: 1).
“The events of our trip were incredibly memorable and once in a lifetime,” explains Dan O’Leary, Oak Brook Polo Club Managing Director. “The team not only had the opportunity to play great competitive polo internationally, but also had a life changing opportunity to experience new country and beautiful cultures rich with history, traditions and life teachings. We look forward to having the India team back to Oak Brook this summer!”
The first match took place on Wednesday, March 8, in Delhi against the Jindal Panthers. Their team included: Mahesh Sharma (1), Sanjay Kapur (0), Naveen Singh (2) and Simran Shergill (6). Vikram Sodhi Singh played as Oak Brook Polo’s #4 player.
The four chukker international match got off to a fast start with the Panthers scoring three goals in the first chukker. In total, the Panthers scored seven goals in the first half to Oak Brook’s one. The Oak Brook Polo Team hit its stride near the end of the third chukker, though, scoring four more goals to the Panther’s three. Onetto scored all of Oak Brook’s points with assists from Obregon, Berg and Vikram. The Panther’s Simran Shergill, would score seven of the team’s 10 total points, including an impressive neck shot from 50-yards out to close the third chukker. Overall the game was a fast and competitive match covering the entire field. Despite the slow start, the Oak Brook Polo Team played a tough and well-fought match, especially in the second half. The final score of the match was 10 – 5 in favor of the Panthers.
On Sunday, March 12, the matches were held in at India’s Hola Mohalla Festival, an annual Sikh event to fortify the Sikh community by carrying out various displays of fighting prowess & bravery. In a town of 30,000 people, the festival attracted nearly 5 million! The Oak Brook team participated in the Sodhi Kishan Signh Memorial Polo Tournament, a mixed three team round robin arena polo tournament that placed each of them on 3 participating teams with other Indian players. Each match was two chukkers. Onetto represented the Oak Brook Polo Team with guest players Rehat Virk (-1) and Harry Singh (1) while Obregon played for the Anandpur Sahib team alongside Akshay Malik (0) and Vikram Sodhi Singh (1). Berg played for Gillcrest Homes [alongside Deepak Udar (2) and Col. Tarsem Singh (2)].
The first match of the tournament was Oak Brook against Gillcrest Homes, which was given a ½ handicap. The flat dry mud surface of the arena made for a fast game with great ball action. Onetto scored the opening goal followed by Berg of Gillcrest in the first chukker. Berg scored again in the second along with fellow teammate Deepak Udar for the win 2.5-2. Obregon umpired the first match.
The second match again featured the Oak Brook Team, this time against the Anandpur Sahib Team and captained by Vikram Sodh Singh. Onetto again put up the first goal followed by back-to-back goals from Harry Singh. Obregon answered back to make the score 3–2.5 at the end of the first chukker. Vikram opened the second chukker with a beautiful backhand goal to nearly tie the game, but Onetto lead the Oak Brook team to victory with two back-to-back goals making the final score 5–3.5
The third and final match of the afternoon was between Anandpur Sahib and Gillcrest Homes. The first half of the match was a high scoring chukker, with Gillcrest Homes putting the first four goals of the match on the scoreboard, including the opening goal by Berg. However, Obregon kept the Anandpur Sahib Team’s hopes alive by putting up two goals before the end of the first chukker, making the score 4-2. Vikram scored the only goal in the second chukker, though not enough for the win. The final score was 4-3 for the match and tournament win for Gillcrest Homes.
The perimeter of the arena was packed with thousands of onlookers, and some even watched from roofs of nearby houses. Berg, playing for Gillcrest, scored a total of three tournament goals and received MVP honors. Honorable mentions went to Obregon, who also scored three tournament goals and Onetto who scored a total of four goals.
This summer, the Oak Brook Polo Club will host the Delhi Polo Club Team for the third straight year to compete for the Butler Challenge Cup on Sunday, August 20, 2017.
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.