Wellington, Fla. – Feb. 11, 2018 – Patagones opened the Sieber Memorial 12-Goal Tournament with an impressive 13-9 victory over Sebucan during Saturday Polo at Grand Champions Polo Club.
On a perfect day in front of a good local crowd and a worldwide ChukkerTV audience, Patagones (Joaquin Avendano, 1, Robi Bilbao, 4, Benjamin Avendano, 2, Santi Wulff, 5) dominated the featured game against Sebucan (Pablo Pulido, 2, Marc Ganzi/Grant Ganzi, 2, Jesse Bray, 5, Stewart Armstrong, 3).
Patagones, playing well and taking advantage of Sebucan unforced errors, led for most of the game. After taking 2-1 and 3-2 leads in the first two chukkers, Patagones broke away for a 5-2 halftime lead and led by as many as nine goals (11-2) in the fifth chukker before Sebucan tried to reel them in.
Benjamin Avendano, 19, was named Most Valuable Player. Avendano scored three goals. It was the third MVP honor for the Lynn University sophomore this season including two at Grand Champions and one at Port Mayaca.
Pulido’s horse, Burbuja, a 9-year-old chestnut gelding, was named American Polo Horse Association Best registered horse for the game. His groom, Marcial Torreyes was awarded $250 by American Polo Horse Association executive director Tiana Smicklas.
The APHA was created in 2006 by the legendary Sunny Hale to recognize polo ponies in America and encourages events that showcase them and hard-working dedication of grooms. Hale will be inducted posthumously on Friday into the Polo Hall of Fame in front of an expected sellout crowd.
The Grand Champions Polo Club Best Playing Pony was awarded Armstrong’s second chukker horse, Almond Joy.
At 25, Robi Bilbao is the newest addition to the Patagones lineup replacing Tavi Usandizaga, who played last season.
“I met them four years ago and played two years in Argentina with these kids so I know them well,” Bilbao said. “They are older and play excellent. They are like me. We make all the plays thinking we are all the same. It is easy to play with them. They are great kids and this is a great organization.
Wulff, the veteran and team leader, would like to see his team return to this month’s 12-goal final.
“I hope this team makes the final again, that is the idea, we are here to make it to the finals,” Wulff said. “We have three more in the bracket and semifinals.”
The Sieber Memorial 12-Goal Tournament features nine teams. Patagones’ next game is Friday against Mayer Ranch (Clark Mayer, 0, Brendan Stenzel, 2, Matt Coppola, 4, Nacho Badiola, 6) at 4 p.m. Both teams are 1-0.
The tournament is named in honor of polo player Rob Sieber, who died in a polo-related accident 32 years ago at Oak Brook, Ill. Members of the Sieber family annually attend the tournament and participate in the awards ceremony.