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La Dolfina wins first US Open Polo Championship, defeating Valiente in Wellington

Sharon Robb
Special to The Post
 La Dolfina celebrates its first U.S. Open Polo Championship Sunday at the National Polo Center.
WELLINGTON — La Dolfina won its first U.S. Open Polo Championship Sunday in an emotionally-charged final at the National Polo Center.

La Dolfina (Alejandro Azmar, 0, Rufino Merlos, 3, Poroto Cambiaso, 10, Tomas Panelo, 9) broke open a close game in the sixth chukker to defeat Valiente (Joaquin Vilgre de la Madrid, 0, Peke Gonzalez, 4, Pacquito de Narvaez, 5, Adolfo Cambiaso, 10), 10-7, in front of a soldout crowd.

La Dolfina, Valiente's sister organization making its U.S. polo winter debut, won two of the three legs of the Gauntlet of Polo Series and back-to-back tournaments.

The game was bittersweet for Adolfo Cambiaso, celebrating his son's second Gauntlet tournament win against him, but also dedicating the game to Valiente patron and good friend Bob Jornayvaz.

Jornayvaz was involved in a serious polo accident on April 8 in an early U.S. Open match and remains in intensive care at St. Mary's Medical Center with serious injuries. His family said Jornayvaz is "in recovery" but would release no other details.


"Honestly, I don’t think of the game very much, I think of Bob and today Valiente is playing because his family wanted it and it's what Bob would have liked, to keep on playing," Cambiaso told Pololine before the game.

"I was enjoying the season until Bob’s fall, and since that moment, nothing has been the same and nothing has been enjoyable until he is good."

Cambiaso wore Jornayvaz No. 1 jersey in his honor. Jornayvaz son, Rob, posted on his social media: "My father would be so proud of the two teams that came out of his barn today."

La Dolfina celebrates its first U.S. Open Polo Championship Sunday at the National Polo Center.

Added Panelo, "Bob was not on the field and it was a bit weird but hopefully he gets well soon and this trophy is for him."

Teenager Paquito de Narvaez, 16, was named Most Valuable Player. His horse, Antu Walun Chavetita, was Best Playing Pony. J5 Arg Auna, played by Adolfo Cambiaso, was the Argentine Best Playing Pony.

Panelo led La Dolfina with a game-high six goals. Cambiaso had three and Merlos added one. For Valiente, de Narvaez had four goals, including three penalty conversions. Gonzalez had two and Cambiaso one.

"This is the best feeling, it's something we've been dreaming with my father for a really long time, putting the horses together and getting the opportunity to play and it happened," said Merlos, the son of former 10-goaler Tincho Merlos.

Poroto Cambiaso helped lead La Dolfina to its first U.S. Open Polo Championship Sunday at the National Polo Center in Wellington.

"Playing with Tommy Panelo and Poroto Cambiaso is definitely a dream come true. I want to thank them and all the people who worked behind the scenes. To play and win with them is incredible."

The teams split the previous two finals, with Valiente winning the C.V. Whitney Cup, 12-10, and La Dolfina taking the USPA Gold Cup, 12-9. La Dolfina finished the tournament 5-0 and Valiente dropped to 4-1.