There are few tournaments in the world that require as much grit, strength, strategy and teamwork as the Gauntlet of Polo. Set in the heart of the Winter Equestrian Captial of the world at the National Polo Center, the Gauntlet is the sports toughest test. It’s a three month long competition that comprises of the top tournaments in the United States: the C.V. Whitney Cup, the USPA Gold Cup and one of the most prestigious polo tournaments in the world, the U.S. Open Polo Championship. Team Pilot is the only team thus far to win the Gauntlet by claiming all three titles in 2019.
Since the late 1970’s, over 80 players and thousands of horses travel to NPC every winter season trying to win just one of those tournaments, a hard but rewarding quest.
It may have only taken 4 seasons for Park Place to claim its first U.S. Open Polo Championship title in organization history, but their rise to the top of the polo food chain wasn’t an easy climb.
Over the organization’s first two seasons, Park Place was unable to advance past the quarterfinals of each major tournament. And the Pandemic didn’t help either; haulting the end of the 2020 season all together. But their efforts as a newly formed team didn’t go unnoticed by one of the top polo players in the world. In 2021, Hilario Ulloa joined team Park Place.
“My expectation, Park Place and Andrey’s [Borodin] are to win the three tournaments, to win the Gauntlet, to win everything we play,” said Hilario Ulloa.
Ulloa’s expectations soon became a reality. In 2021, Ulloa, along with Matt Coppola, Juan Britos and Jack Whitman, punched their ticket to the first major final of the winter polo season, the C.V. Whitney Cup.
“I just want to say thank you to the whole team,” said Britos after the win, pointing to the grooms and Park Place’s team tent. “It’s been many years putting in the effort and I think the whole team deserves this win.”
The win put Park Place on the map and a target on their back. A few months later, the team advanced to the U.S. Open Polo Championship final but fell to Scone. The 2021 winter polo season might as well have been a warning from Park Place.
The 2022 season started with Ulloa at the helm and Park Place winning the 2022 C.V. Whitney Cup. However, they fell short in the USPA Gold Cup and U.S. Open.
By the 2023 winter polo season, Park Place had wracked up two C.V. Whitney Cup titles and received runner up at the USPA Gold Cup and runner up at the U.S. Open Polo Championship.
Park Place (Ulloa, Britos, Jason Wates and Andrey Borodin) fought and scored their way into the final of the 2023 U.S. Open Polo Championship. They knew what it felt like to be the runner up in this final, now they wanted to know what it was like to win it.
After the game was postponed at halftime due to weather, Park Place and Valiente resumed the final the following day.
Park Place defeated Valiente 12-11, winning their first U.S. Open Polo Championship title in organization history. It was Ulloa’s 4th U.S. Open title, and Britos’s first.
“I’ve been dreaming for this moment for a very, very, very long time,” said Britos after the win. “It’s hard to put into words but it’s been a lot of years being in this organization with Andrey [Borodin] leading the whole operation with the horses, teams, group of people, grooms, vets, trainers.. I don’t want to miss anyone.”
Britos continued, “[there are] a lot of people that have been fighthing for this title and after all these years of fighting, it finally came.”
Get to know the top tournaments and the top rated polo players in the new season of Breakaway presented by U.S. Polo Assn. airing on ESPN, beIN Sports and Globalpolo.com.