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Orea Polo Wins Metropolitan Cup; Matias Busquet Named MVP

Metropolitan Cup winning team Matias Busquet, Petra Sobotova, Finn Secunda and Justin Daniels of Orea Polo. © Candace Ferreira

WELLINGTON, Fla., February 13, 2023—Orea Polo rallied in the final minute of the Metropolitan Cup 6-Goal final to capture its first tournament of the winter polo season Sunday at windy Santa Rita Polo Farm.

Orea Polo (Petra Sobotova, -1, Finn Secunda, 1, Justin Daniels 2, Matias Busquet) edged The Polo School (Meredith Lovegrove, -1, Santos Bollini, 2, Alex Webb, 2, Juan Bollini, 3), 3-2, in the thrilling final.

„What a day,“ Daniels said. „It was a day to remember. I feel like I shared the field with many friends and family from the whole Orea team, the opposing four players and my brother who supported me at the palenque.“

„A day like this is one to remember and celebrate, win or lose. It is an example of one of the main reasons I love the sport.“

Busquet, who scored the game-winner with 1:04 left in regulation, was named Most Valuable Player.

Orquideo, a 6-year-old homebred stallion (mother/ Orquidea and father/Chapa Aquario), played by Daniels, was selected Best Playing Pony.

„The best playing pony award is super nice to compliment all the hard work my young horses and I have put in over the years,“ Daniels said. „I am reminded of my father every time I step onto the polo field with Orquideo. I know he would be so proud of us today.

„It is a dream come true to be able to play with a team of horses that I have made and brought up myself. Alinea, Campeon, Velvet, Gigi and Orquideo, from homebreds to off the track projects.“

Orquideo was born the year after his father, Pony Express patron Bob Daniels, died. Daniels „has trained and raised him from the moment he was born.“

The victory avenged an early tournament loss to The Polo School. Orea Polo finished with a 2-1 record.

„We played well as a team today,“ said Sobotova, also a show jumper who showed at Wellington International before the polo final. „In our first match with them we just hadn‘t clicked together as a team for the season quite yet. Going into the final we were playing better as a team. Mati and Justin rounded out the back really nice and Finn and I were playing in the front. Finn is a great little player.“

The Polo School took an early lead with 1:24 left in the opening chukker with the first of two goals from the veteran Juan Bollini. Bollini made it 2-0 early in the second chukker with 2:54 left. A minute later Sobotova connected with Daniels, who scored on a cut shot to trail by one.

In the third chukker, Santos Bollini saved Finn Secunda‘s first goal attempt but Secunda made good his second attempt with 2:13 left to tie the game. After two missed scoring opportunities by each team, Busquet took the ball from one end of the field to the other to score the game-winner on a breakaway with 1:04 left.

Orea Polo got balanced scoring from its lineup with Secunda, Daniels and Busquet each scoring one goal. Juan Bollini led The Polo School with two goals.

In the first half, The Polo School outshot Orea Polo, 4-1, but Orea Polo turned it around and ended up outshooting them 6-5. The remaining stats, knock-ins, throw-ins and fouls were all even, 3-3.

Third-year team Orea Polo is coming off a successful summer season in Kentucky winning 4- and 6-goal tournaments with Busquet, Daniels and Sobotova. Last season at Santa Rita, Orea Polo won the Halo Polo 6-Goal and Aspen Valley 8-Goal Cup.

Orea Polo is planning on competing in the remaining 6- and 8-goal tournaments at Grand Champions.

In last year‘s Metropolitan Cup final, first-year team Casimiro (Steve Cox, 0, Miki Novillo Astrada, 0, Santos Bollini, 2, Santi Llavallol, 3) defeated The Polo School (Diego Morales, 1, Hayley Schaufeld, -1, Bauti Peluso, 2, Juan Bollini, 4), 8.5-5. Santos Bollini was MVP.

Grand Champions, the nation‘s largest  polo club celebrating its 16th anniversary, and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique private 102-acre polo facility in Wellington with 212 stalls in nine self-contained barns, two tracks, five climate-controlled tack rooms, vet room, staff quarters, guest house and four polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation and short work arena. The club has 13 well-manicured fields including nine world-class fields at GCPC and four at Santa Rita.

During the winter polo season, Grand Champions, the nation‘s largest and most innovative USPA-sanctioned polo club, nestled in the heart of the world‘s winter equestrian capital, is hosting  tournaments: 6, 8, 12, 20, and 26-goal leagues, WCT Finals, women‘s weekly league play and 26-goal World Polo League tournaments at both Grand Champions and Santa Rita.

Grand Champions tournaments attract a large international field of players from all corners of the world including Argentina, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Canada, Ecuador, Brazil, Switzerland, France, England, Germany, Uruguay, Azerbaijan, South Africa, Venezuela, Chile, and England.

Season highlights for 2023 are the  Sterling Cup, $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament, Sieber Memorial, John T. Oxley Memorial, the inaugural Richard Riemenschneider Memorial Cup and $100,000 World Cup Tournament, a unique 0-40-goal, winner-take-all single-elimination tournament and special events including World Polo League Polo Pride and Sunset Chukkers & Cocktails.

The biggest highlight of the season is the fifth season of the World Polo League currently underway at Grand Champions. It is the only 26-goal played outside of Argentina.

The winter season is being live-streamed locally and worldwide on Wellington-based ChukkerTV (CTV).

Grand Champions Polo Club caters to men, women and youth polo players at all levels. Its‘ expert staff can customize a complete playing experience including horses, pros and certified umpires in addition to lessons and practice sessions as part of its‘ Polo On Demand program.

The Polo School, now located at the former Pony Express facility, operates in Wellington January through May and September through November. The stand-alone USPA-sanctioned polo club, is thriving. It is dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grass roots youth. Its mission is to provide individuals opportunities in polo at every economic and ability level. November. The Polo School has nurtured several junior, men and women polo players now playing in the pro and amateur ranks since its inception.

For more information on leagues or Polo School contact Directors of Operations Juan Bollini at  561-346-1099 or Cale Newman at 561-876-2930.

By Sharon Robb
Photos by Candace Ferreira

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