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Valiente wins inaugural World Polo League All Star Challenge

Valiente makes history with overtime thriller and captures the World Polo League’s first tournament. Pablo MacDonough was awarded Most Valuable Player. By Sharon Robb.

On a historic day of firsts at Grand Champions Polo Club, Valiente came up big.Valiente (Agustin Nero, 6, Santi Torres, 6, Pablo MacDonough, 10, Poroto Cambiaso, 3) made history with a thrilling 10-9 overtime victory over Colorado (Rob Jornayvaz, 2, Juan Martin Zubia, 7, Rodrigo Andrade, 9, Jero del Carril, 7) Sunday in the championship final of the inaugural World Polo League All Star Challenge Draw Tournament.

With 6:34 left in overtime, Argentine 10-goaler Pablo MacDonough converted a 60-yard penalty shot to clinch the win in front of a record crowd and worldwide livestream audience. MacDonough finished with eight goals all on penalty conversions and was named Most Valuable Player for the final.

“I have never had eight penalty goals in one game, that is the first time in my life I scored so many penalties in one game,” MacDonough said. “It was good, especially the last one. I just wanted to hit the ball well and if you hit the ball well you have a chance to score. I just concentrated on putting the ball up in the air and that was it. Then you need a little bit of luck and it was on my side. “This couldn’t be any better, to win the first World Polo League tournament,” MacDonough said. “I am very happy to be part of this league. This is something good for polo here in America. I am glad to be here this season and hopefully this league is here to stay.”

Poroto Cambiaso, 13, the son of polo great Adolfo Cambiaso and youngest player in the eight-team tournament, was selected Most Valuable Player for the tournament and presented a Catena Watch by Bill Kraft, Catena USA CEO and President. It was Cambiaso’s first 26-goal tournament win in his U.S. 26-goal debut. Cambiaso scored two goals in the final and matched up well against players twice his age.  “This is the first time in my life I play with Poroto,” MacDonough said. “It’s unbelievable how he understands the game. He is the future of polo.”

Valiente finished the tournament unbeaten at 3-0 and Colorado finished 3-1. Both teams are owned by Wellington-based J5 Equestrian. “Valiente is an amazing organization,” MacDonough said. “I am glad to be part of one team and I am glad to be here.” With his attacking, aggressive style of play, Torres played an integral role in the game. “That whole game was tough, every second of it,” said the 25-year-old Torres. “That team was unbelievable. I was lucky Pablo made that shot. I screwed up on the play that made us go into overtime, luckily he made that.”

After Torres fouled Andrade on a potential goal run, Jero del Carril converted a 30-yard penalty with 12 seconds left to send the game into overtime. Del Carril finished with four goals to lead Colorado’s scoring. Jornayvaz and Zubia each had two goals and Andrade added one. “The game was amazing,” said Torres, who also won the 20-goal Sterling Cup last weekend with Colorado teammates Nick Johnson,  Diego Cavanagh and Jornayvaz. “That team was unbelievable. We played tough and tried to keep our man, but they are an awesome team. The whole game was tough.
AHPA Best Playing Pony of the tournament was Mini Watt played by Torres. Mini Watt was also the APHA Best Playing Pony for the championship final in the 2017 $100,000 World Cup won by Torres’ team Palm Beach Illustrated.

Feb. 20-March 3, Founders Cup

Tuesday, 2/19:
4 p.m. Scone vs. FlexjetWednesday, 2/20:
11 a.m. Colorado vs. Black Watch
4 p.m. Valiente vs. Alegria

Thursday, 2/21:
10 a.m. Scone vs. Audi
4 p.m. Flexjet vs. Grand Champions

Sunday, 2/24:
4 p.m. Audi vs. Grand Champions

Tuesday, 2/26:
4 p.m. Grand Champions vs. Scone

Thursday, 2/28:
TBD: Flexjet vs. Audi

Sunday, March 3:
4 p.m. Founders Cup Final at Grand Champions Polo Club Field 2

March 6-24, Palm Beach Open
March 27-April 14, Triple Crown of Polo

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