By Alejandra Ocampo, with contribution from Juan Cruz Diaz de Céspedes, from Palm Beach
Valiente defeated Orchard Hill 14 goals to 11 to claim the CV Whitney Cup, the first tournament of the American Triple Crown, after an exciting final at International Polo Club Palm Beach on Sunday afternoon. Valiente's win denied former title holders Orchard Hill a hat trick, after their success in 2015 and 2016.
Orchard Hill had a stronger start, gaining an early 3-1 advantage in the first chukka. Steve van Andel's foursome were more focued and showcased better team play.
However, Valiente leveled the scores in the second. With several great plays and goals, and solid performances by Valiente's Adolfo Cambiaso and Matias Torres Zavaleta, as well as Orchard Hill's Facundo Pieres. Valiente tied the game at 4-all halfway though the second, but Orchard Hill scored once again in the last seconds to maintain the narrow lead (5-4).
Valiente put enough pressure on Orchard Hill during a wet and windy third chukka, but the match remained very tight. Finally, Valiente got their first lead of the match at half time (6-5), following a goal by Diego Cavanagh.
The drizzle continued into the fourth; as a result, the match became somewhat rough, but Valiente stood firmly in the lead. Under the command of Adolfo Cambiaso (who rode Chocolate, one of Valiente's best ponies as well as clones of his own Dolfina Cuartetera), Valiente managed to hold Orchard Hill back.
The game was almost decided after a fantastic fifth chukker. With Matias Torres Zavaleta playing at his best, Bob and the boys took a commanding four-goal lead (12-8), with one chukka left.
Orchard Hill rode onto the field to give it their all in the sixth. They outscored Valiente 3-2, but it was not enough. A couple of goals by Adolfo Cambiaso sealed the 14-11 win, and the first 26-goal title of the season went to Valiente.
Score Valiente: 1-3, 4-5, 6-5, 7-6, 12-8, 14-11
* Valiente: Adolfo Cambiaso 7, Matias Torres Zavaleta 4, Diego Cavanagh 3
* Orchard Hill: Facundo Pieres 6, Polito Pieres 5
MVP: Matias Torres Zavaleta (Valiente)
BPP: Sugar (played by Adolfo Cambiaso)