La Indiana pummels Valiente, 10-4

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BRITISH TRIPLE CROWN: JAEGER-LECOULTRE GOLD CUP FOR THE BRITISH OPEN (2016) – DAY 6
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La Indiana vs. Valiente, during day six of the 2016 Jaeger LeCoultre Gold Cup for the British Open Polo Championship, Monday, June 27th, at Cowdray Park Polo Club

La Indiana vs. Valiente, during day six of the 2016 Jaeger LeCoultre Gold Cup for the British Open Polo Championship, Monday, June 27th, at Cowdray Park Polo Club / Photo by Tony Ramirez/Images of Polo / imagesofpolo.com


 

La Indiana – 10

Michael Bickford (1), Nic Roldan (7),
Agustin Merlos (8), Julian De Lusarreta (6)

Valiente – 4

Bob Jornayvaz (2), Ralph Richardson (1),
Adolfo Cambiaso (10), Juan Martin Nero (9)


Once again this season La Indiana accomplished what polo prognosticators had branded impossible. The no-longer-underdog team soundly defeated Valiente in league play Monday in the 2016 British Open. The 10-4 upset was as stunning as La Indiana’s surge into the finals of the Cartier Queen’s Cup after they dethroned defending champion King Power Foxes in the semis.

La Indiana set the tone in Monday’s match, with Nic Roldan making the first goal. Julian “Negro” de Lusarreta stunned the crowd—and Adolfo Cambiaso—when he stole the ball from the top player in the world. Valiente started putting the pressure on La Indiana and making them rush. Cambiaso and Juan Martín Nero glided into their trademark tango and then started mixing it up, enabling Nero to blast past de Lusarreta and tie the game at the end of the first chukka.

For a brief time things were looking up for Valiente. Cambiaso and Nero played keep-away with the ball, making space for themselves, keeping the ball close and edging down the field. Normally that works like a charm for them. But La Indiana’s running-and-gunning style of play, which has served them well all season, started to throw Valiente off kilter.

The third chukka turned out to be pivotal. Completely out of character, Cambiaso missed on two penalty fours in a row. Before Valiente had time to regroup, La Indiana streaked up and down the field to make three field goals in quick succession (the first by Roldan, followed by two courtesy of Agustín “Tincho” Merlos). That ended the first half 6-1 for La Indiana.

For Valiente things only got worse from there. Normally Valiente remains unfazed by a downturn early in the game, given Cambiaso’s impeccable track record of reconfiguring a successful plan at halftime. But something went awry this time. The superpower tag-team of Cambiaso and Nero got separated at critical moments, and La Indiana took full advantage. La Indiana stayed on cruise control the whole time, holding Valiente scoreless for half of the game (second, third and fifth chukkas).

Cambiaso scored on a penalty two in the fourth chukka, but it wasn’t enough to change the course of the game. Nero got revved up in the fifth, hunting down Merlos like a foxhound before he could score. Nero followed up with a bang-on perfect field goal in the final chukka. But a slick pass from Merlos to Roldan ended the contest 10-4 for La Indiana.

“This game was super-important for us,” said Roldan. “The team played amazing—one of our best games all season—against an incredibly tough team. Today was just our day, and everyone was on a roll. Everyone played to their top ability, and the horses were great. It’s a long tournament and there are still a lot of important games to play, but we’re confident and super-excited to go on to the next one.”

–Darlene Ricker

 


The Gold Cup for the British Open Polo Championship was established in 1956, when it was then known as the Cowdray Park Gold Cup. The trophy itself was stolen in 1968, and has not been recovered. Stowell Park and Tramontana share the record for most wins, with five titles apiece.
 


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Sports, Polo, United Kingdom, High-Goal