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ATTACHED PHOTOS

Adolfo Cambiaso and Facundo Pieres

Adolfo Cambiaso and Facundo Pieres

Adolfo Cambiaso

Best Playing Pony "Diva Dos", played by Juan Martin Nero and owned by Orchard Hill

Facundo Pieres

MVP Facundo Pieres

Orchard Hill

Throw-in in front of capacity crowd

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Orchard Hill Snatches 2016 US Open Trophy from Dubai 13-12 in OT

Written by: Darlene Ricker
Client: United States Polo Association http://www.uspolo.org
Release Date: 2016-04-25

Orchard Hill slammed the door on Dubai in overtime, clinching the 112th United States Open Polo Championship® 13-12 at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC). Facundo Pieres was named Most Valuable Player, and Diva Dos (played by Juan Martin Nero and owned by Orchard Hill) was Best Playing Pony.

Orchard Hill
Facundo Pieres 10
Julian de Lusarreta 6
Juan Martin Nero 10
Steve Van Andel A

Dubai
Rashid Albwardy 2
Alejo Taranco 6
Facundo Sola 8
Adolfo Cambiaso 10

The team in black had been mentally gunning for the title for a year, having narrowly lost in 2015 to Valiente in the last breath of regulation play. “I really thought we deserved to win last year, and now we have,” said a jubilant but ever-intense Pieres in the tent, ducking just before he was about to be swallowed by a tsunami of jet-propelled champagne.

Although Orchard Hill’s rival was cloaked in a different name last year, in a very real sense Sunday’s showdown had a dose of déjà vu. Half of the 2015 Valiente team (Adolfo Cambiaso and Alejo Taranco) reappeared on the field in the form of Dubai. So did several of the Valiente organization’s top horses through an arrangement with Valiente patron Bob Jornayvaz. It turned out to be a winning formula, with Dubai in its first U.S. season winning the 2016 USPA Gold Cup® last month.

Pieres was determined to put a stop to that yesterday. Game high-scorer with 11 goals, he swept onto the field full-tilt boogey, making the game’s first goal only 18 seconds into play. He and Cambiaso took it to the limit all day, repeatedly stealing the ball from one another. Each had their work cut out for them. Pieres had fellow 10-goaler Juan Martin Nero as his wingman, while Cambiaso and Alejo Taranco were every bit as formidable a combo as they were in last year’s Open. When not on the offense, Taranco cleared the way for the world’s No. 1 player like a street sweeper, prompting announcer Tony Coppola to exclaim, “Look at Jejo—he’s everywhere today!” At critical points the tag-team twins fed each other the ball, resulting in several Dubai goals. A slick play by Dubai in the last minute of the first chukker saw Cambiaso hook Pieres and steal the ball. He passed it to Dubai patron Rashid Albwardy in the front, who kept it until Cambiaso called for it as he surged out ahead toward goal, ending the first chukker 3-1 for Dubai.

A flurry of right-of-way violations ensued through the rest of the game as the intensity spiked. With 48 seconds left in the second chukker, Nero broke free after a complex chain of steals and passes involving Pieres, Cambiaso, Taranco, Facundo Sola and himself. Nero sent a powerful hit along the ground to Pieres, who carried it through the posts, bringing Orchard Hill within striking distance of Dubai (4-3). With the score tied at 4 in the third chukker, Nero picked up the ball about knee-high and launched it 100 yards into goal, pushing Orchard Hill into the lead 5-4. Pieres stretched his team’s advantage with back-to-back goals from the penalty line. That ignited Cambiaso, who tied the game at 7 in the fourth. Before the chukker closed Pieres returned the favor, retying the score at 8.

Cambiaso made quick work of reclaiming the lead for Dubai, making two goals in the first two minutes of the fifth. Dubai was ahead 11-9 early in the sixth chukker, but Pieres followed up with a penalty 2 goal and one from the field, the latter looking like the final stretch in the Kentucky Derby, with Sola desperately chasing him down. The warp-speed ride-off brought the score to 11-all. A Cambiaso pass to Albwardy went through the posts, making it a pretty good bet that Dubai was going to make history. But with 48 seconds remaining, Pieres again tied the game at 12 and pushed the game into overtime. The Nero/Pieres duo wrote Orchard Hill’s name on the trophy when Nero sent the ball on a back-shot to Pieres, who made the winning goal.

A ceremonial retirement bowl-in was held for Wembley, the legendary high-goal gelding owned by Valiente and ridden to greatness by a list of top players, including members of the Gracida and Heguy polo families, among others. Cambiaso has long played Wembley, who he said has always been one of his favorites (so much so that he has produced two Wembley clones for his La Dolfina string, one of them foaled on the day Valiente won the 2015 U.S. Open final). Taranco, who successfully competed Wembley earlier this season for Valiente, rode him in Sunday’s ceremony.

 

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