Finals of USPA Open Championship

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Story and Photos by Alan Fabricant,  Alfabphoto.com

The final event of a very successful 2023 polo season was held over two days due to rain

On Sunday, in front of a packed audience on the USPA Stadium Field two undefeated teams, Valiente and Park Place went head to head the determine the champion.

At half time Valiente was ahead 6-5.   

Toward the end of the half time festivities the skies opened up.

45 minutes later, with rain still coming down and no letup in sight the game was halted for the safety of the riders and horses.

The next day the Isla Carroll East field had dried out sufficiently to have the second half of the game proceed.

During this back and forth battle between the teams the rains came again, but this time not as heavy.

Park Place tied the game up immediately at 6-6.

Valiente took the lead at 10-8 only to have Park Place come back to tie the score at 11.

With only 40 seconds remaining in the game Hilario Ulloa, 10 goaler and team captain for Park Place, scored the winning goal to give Park Place their first US Open victory.

Ulloa not only scored 10 goals, but was recognized as the Most Valuable Player while riding Latia Kavaska, who won two awards as the Best Playing Pony.

The Park Place team was made up of Patron, Andrey Borodin,  Hilario Ulloa, Juan Britos and Jason Wates, the first Jamaican born player the play in the US Open.

Valiente played with a makeshift lineup due to an injury suffered to Lucas Criado, Jr. in the semi-final match. His replacement, Agustin Nero was one goal lower so Patron, Bob Jornayvaz stepped aside to let Rufino Merlos, one goal higher 

play so that both teams were playing to an equal handicap.

As the rain was coming down both teams accepted their awards.

All of the supporting staff and family members joined the winners on the stage to share in this long awaited victory celebration.