On Sunday, September 10th, Oak Brook Polo Club closed out the 2017 regular season by defeating the Wales Polo team in four chukkers in front of record attendance to win the prestigiousInternational Cup and Prince of Wales Cup. As part of the final match in the “International Series,” which included Jamaica and India, Oak Brook has a long history of hosting teams from other countries and was honored to have the Wales team return.
"This was a match we've been looking forward to all season – ‘the return of the Brits,’ and it measured up in every respect,” explained Drury, patron of Oak Brook polo Club. “High speed, intensely competitiveand wonderful camaraderie between our teams. I was pleased to accept their gracious invitation to host our team in England next season, for a rematch."
Singers Nicolette Fendon & Heather Bodie, of Chicago-native band,Midwest sang the national anthem while Celtic piper Christopher Coomes performed both the Wales and Great Britain national anthems.
The first chukker got underway with the traditional ball roll in. Despite Wales having a stronger team by two goals on handicap, Oak Brook’s captain agreed to play the match “on the flat”, as Wales was playingon unfamiliar horses. Gutierrez was the first to score for Oak Brook followed by Obregon, who fired one in within the first 3 minutes of play. Wales not to be outdone, but still getting used to their mounts, replied with two goals of their own – one fromDonnelly, in a chase down to the north goal, and the second one on a penalty 2 -again from Donnelly. Gutierrez pulled off a nice neck shot goal in the last minute of play to end the chukker 3-2 Oak Brook.
The second chukker was dominated by a variety of defensive plays by both teams –bumping and big back shots from Webb, and Obregon. Camus had a couple of runs to goal but was quickly shut down by Oak Brook’sdefense of Drury and Onetto. Wales had several long shots on goal, only to miss by inches but Webb finally got one through from a strong “worm burner” seventy yards out. Onetto replied with one of his own that he tackled from Webb mid-field. The chukker endedwith no penalties, and a score of 4-3 Oak Brook.
After the traditional yet “festive” divot stomp, the third chukker began with Oak Brook coming out with their best mounts. Onetto, on a particularly well-trained horse, scored three goals with defenseman Druryalso scoring in a breakaway, on a long pass (from Onetto). Donnelly and Webb of Wales did a great job of feeding the ball up to Grace, but she was too closely marked by Drury to put it between the posts. The third chukka ended 8-3 in favor of Oak Brook.
For the fourth and final chukka of the match, Wales had found their stride and were also on their best borrowed mounts. Oak Brook did not score in the chukker, as they were too busy playing defense. Camusscored one goal after a nice pass from Webb, who then put in two more goals– one after a nice bump and run with Onetto, and one on a penalty 3. Wales made a nice comeback, but they would have needed six chukkers to catch up. Nonetheless, Oak Brook held theirlead to win 8-6.
Reute Butler and Nicholas Vangel presented The International Cup to the Oak Brook Polo Team. “Best Playing Pony” was awarded to the mare,Vera (owned and trained by Onetto), and MVP honors went to Peter Webb of Wales.
2017 marks Oak Brook Polo Club's 95th season as one of the nation's oldest polo clubs in operation today and fourth oldest sports property in Chicago. Once considered the “polo capital” of the world Oak Brookwas the destination for American Polo players and enthusiasts. www.oakbrookpoloclub.com.