U.S. Open Polo Championship

U.S. Open Polo Championship

The prestigious polo tournament sees La Dolfina win the trophy.

Concluding the most prestigious polo tournament in the United States, the U.S. Open Polo Championship, fans and polo enthusiasts filled a sold-out stadium at the National Polo Center – Wellington’s (NPC) U.S. Polo Assn. Field One on Sunday, April 21.

La Dolfina - Alejandro Aznar at U.S. Open Polo Championship
La Dolfina – Alejandro Aznar

Reaching the apex of the Florida high-goal season, La Dolfina (Alejandro Aznar, Rufino Merlos, Poroto Cambiaso, Tomas Panelo) and Valiente (Adolfo Cambiaso, Mariano Gonzalez Jr., Paco de Narvaez Jr., Joaquin Vilgre La Madrid) met in an anticipated third consecutive final to determine season supremacy. This match pitted the famed father, Adolfo Cambiaso on team Valiente against his son, Poroto Cambiaso playing for La Dolfina.

The championship match was an exciting battle with a tied score in the early stages of the sixth chukker. However, the remainder of the chukker and on through the final minutes of the match, La Dolfina took the lead and earned their top spot on the trophy stand as the winner. La Dolfina was the winner of the U.S. Open Polo Championship triumphing 10-7 winning $100,000 in prize money.

2024 U.S. Open Polo Championship Winner - La Dolfina - Rufino Merlos, Alejandro Aznar, Tomas Panelo, Poroto Cambiaso. © David Lominska
2024 U.S. Open Polo Championship Winner – La Dolfina – Rufino Merlos, Alejandro Aznar, Tomas Panelo, Poroto Cambiaso

Earning his first U.S. Open title at just 17-years-old, an elated Merlos shared, “It’s something I’ve been dreaming about with my father [Agustin “Tincho” Merlos] for a really long time, putting the horses together and getting the opportunity to play and it happened! Getting to play with Tomy, Poroto and Alejandro is definitely a dream come true.”

Antu Walung Chavetita, a 9-year-old mare played and owned by Paco de Narvaez Jr. in the second and sixth chukkers was awarded the Willis Hartman Trophy Best Playing Pony, presented by Palm Beach Equine.

Raising the U.S. Open Polo Championship trophy for the first time in his career, Panelo expressed, “I’m very happy for all the people who help make this possible. Grooms, farriers, all the people who are working behind the scenes—my family, my dad, my mom, my brothers, my girlfriend. I have a lot of people behind me that make my play comfortable.”

U.S. Polo Assn. Field One. ©David Lominska U.S. Open Polo Championship
U.S. Polo Assn. Field One.

Polo truly is a family affair both on and off the field. Each week many families and their furry friends come out to cheer on the teams. Some sit gracefully on the Pavilion patio where brunch and bubbles are served wearing their Sunday finest, ladies in pretty sundresses and hats and men in their blue blazers and sockless loafers. Others hangout in tailgate tents filled with frivolity while the more serious fans sit in the stadium box seats and catch all the action on the field.

After the trophy presentation, all come together for a festive finale celebration around the members club pool deck and mallet grille bar. This year a lively Latin singer helped raise the party spirit with some dancing while others munched on an asado BBQ.

The governing body, The United States Polo Association® is organized and exists for the purposes of promoting the game of polo; coordinating the activities of its member clubs and registered player members; arranging and supervising polo tournaments, competitions, and games; and providing rules, handicaps and tournament conditions for those events. Its overarching goals are improving the sport and promoting the safety and welfare of its human and equine participants. Founded in 1890, the USPA is the largest voluntary sports organization in North America for the sport of polo.

U.S. Open Polo Championship
Valiente – Adolfo Cambiaso

Hope Gainer

Polo Players: © David Lominska
Ambiance: © Chrissy Brahney & © Casey Gallaudet
Content: United States Polo Association

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