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Palm Beach Illustrated/Technogym, Dubai, Orchard Hill and Valiente Advance to Ylvisaker Cup Semifinals


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Palm Beach Illustrated/Technogym, Dubai,
Orchard Hill and Valiente Advance to
Ylvisaker Cup Semifinals
WELLINGTON, Fla. - Feb. 22, 2016 - All four quarterfinal games in the 20-goal Ylvisaker tournament were played Sunday at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC). Dubai defeated Coca-Cola 12-7; Orchard Hill took Enigma 12-10 and Palm Beach Illustrated/Technogym clinched a 9-3 win over White Birch. Valiente trounced Tonkawa 9-6 in the 3 p.m. featured match, with Felipe Viana selected as Most Valuable Player and Guri Guitarra, an 11-year-old homebred played by Sebastian Merlos in the fifth chukker, named Best Playing Pony.

Carlos Gracida.
Photo: David Lominska/Polographics.com
 
Dubai Takes Commanding 12-7 Win Over Coca-Cola
 
Rashid Albwardy.
Photo: David Lominska/Polographics.com
Dubai's supersonic Diego Cavanagh and Alejo Taranco looked relaxed two hours before they took the field, as they kicked back on the tailgate of an SUV watching the Orchard Hill/Enigma morning game. That was about to change in short order. Cavanagh morphed into his standard fired-up persona, storming the field to make eight goals total, several on assists from Taranco. Six of Cavanagh's goals seemed a foregone conclusion when he rode up to the penalty line, given his incredible accuracy. High-octane horsepower and horsemanship ruled the field as Dubai shattered Coca-Cola's dreams, leading the entire game. Coca-Cola managed to keep Dubai to a one-goal lead through the first half, but from there Dubai methodically widened the gap to close their opponent down 12-7. Yet Coca-Cola made them work for it. The first words a couple of Dubai players said to each other afterward in the tent was, "Man, was that hard!"
 
Carlitos Gracida, 25, was instrumental in cementing Dubai's win, scoring from the field in each of the last two chukkers. He was among several players in all four games who brought out some of their best horses, which they had been legging up to reach peak fitness at the end of the 20-goal season. It showed in every game. Gracida said he "owed everything" he accomplished in the quarterfinal to his horses, particularly his "special ones," Mexicana (his mount in the second and six chukkers), Xibalba (third) and Guapita (fifth). "With these horses I feel like I can beat anyone on any play," he said. "Mexicana is my best horse, and she's very special to me. She was my dad's horse, and she was his favorite of the young horses." Guapita ("She's really fast and turns quickly") was also his father's horse. All are American Thoroughbreds. While callers have been asking if they are for sale, Gracida said, "These are the horses that make me play better; they make my career possible."

Orchard Hill Tenacious in 12-10 Victory Over Enigma
 
Peke Gonzalez and Jeff Hall. Photo: David Lominska/Polographics.com

Peke Gonzalez and Jeff Hall
Photo: David Lominska/Polographics.com 
As it has been throughout the Ylvisaker, the Facundo factor was pivotal in Orchard Hill's tight win over Enigma. Facundo Pieres scored eight goals (three on penalties). Enigma's Carlucho Arellano, who scored in every chukker, wasn't far behind, with seven goals, all from the penalty line. It was a physical, vociferous game, with each team getting a yellow card in the third chukker. True to form, Pieres was a master at stealing the ball, turning it around and playing a tapping game in his own space until a teammate was perfectly positioned to take the pass and score, as Lucas Criado did three times. Peke Gonzalez ran interference for Pieres as he zipped through a sea of black jerseys to initiate a one-two punch at the top of the second half (Pieres scored, immediately followed in kind by Criado), bringing Orchard Hill to an 8-4 lead. Enigma poured it on in the final chukker, with Matias MacDonough and Jeff Hall making three consecutive goals between them to close out the game.
 
"We knew Enigma was a strong team, and they like to play with a lot of speed," said Pieres. "They run a lot and they hit a lot, so I told the guys we really need to be patient in defense and always stand up behind because they always run around. We scored the goals that we had to, and probably that made the difference."

 
Valiente Gallops Past Tonkawa 9-6
 
Adolfo Cambiaso. Photo: David Lominska/Polographics.com. 

Tommy Beresford and Mason Wroe 
Photo: David Lominska/Polographics.com 
With the substitution of 1-goaler Rob Jornayvaz for his father, patron Bob Jornayvaz (rated at 2), Valiente led by one goal before the game even started due to the adjusted handicap. Their lead increased less than one minute into the game when Adolfo Cambiaso scored on a penalty shot. This seemed to set the tenor of the game, as Tonkawa spent six chukkers trying to catch up to no avail.  
 
Rob Jornayvaz, a member of Team USPA, was a solid substitute, notching two goals in the low-scoring game. Cambiaso led the scoring for Valiente with five goals, all on penalty shots. Tonkawa's Gonzalo Deltour also scored five goals, three from the field.
Felipe Viana, who was named MVP, said he is thrilled about the pairing for the semifinals. "We're excited to play Dubai," he said. "Our team and they are kind of brothers. It's going to be fun because we practice a lot against them. We know each other really well, so it's going to be interesting to find stuff to surprise them somehow."
 
Palm Beach Illustrated/Technogym Cruises to 9-3 Win
Over White Birch
 
Mariano Aguerre and Facundo Obregon. Photo: David Lominska/Polographics.com.

Nacho Badiola
Photo: David Lominska/Polographics.com
Palm Beach Illustrated/Technogym dominated the quarterfinal against White Birch, winning 9-3. Although Palm Beach Illustrated/Technogym was scoreless in the first chukker, they bounced back in the second half. White Birch, on the other hand, scored the first goal but was scoreless in the second half.
 
Nico Escobar substituted for patron Peter Brant, and at first White Birch looked competitive. Ezequiel Ferrario scored on a penalty shot to make the first and only goal in the first chukker and converted two more penalties in the subsequent two chukkers. Palm Beach Illustrated/Technogym answered back with two goals from the field and one penalty to tie the score at 3 going into halftime.
 
The second half was a completely different story. Facundo Obregon scored on three penalty shots in the fourth chukker for Palm Beach Illustrated/Technogym, bringing his total to four goals and increasing the lead 6-3. Nacho Badiola was the only player to score for the remainder of the game, notching three goals from the field for Palm Beach Illustrated/Technogym.

 

The games were streamed by ChukkerTV, a partner of the USPA Polo Network. Continuous live coverage of the Ylvisaker Cup resumes with the semifinals
Wednesday, Feb. 24 at IPC. Orchard Hill plays Dubai at 1:30 pm, and Valiente plays Palm Beach Illustrated/Technogym at 4 p.m. All times are EST.
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