• Molina Cup

    Beverly Equestrian Stuns Dutta Corp; Meets Travieso In Molina Cup Final Saturday At Grand Champions Polo Club

     

    By Arianna Delin, Sharon Robb for Grand Champions Polo Club
     
    -In one of the best games of the high goal season, Beverly Equestrian Polo knocked off Dutta Corp to advance into the Molina Cup final Saturday at Grand Champions Polo Club.

    The first-year 20-goal team broke open a close game in the sixth chukker to defeat previously undefeated Dutta Corp, 14-11, Thursday at breezy White Birch Field in front of a good crowd and worldwide ChukkerTV audience.

    Carlucho Arellano of Beverly Equestrian hits a neck shot across the field.
    Beverly Equestrian (Bill Ballhaus, Carlucho Arellano, Magoo Laprida, Inaki Laprida) will meet Travieso (Teo Calle, Toroto Ruiz, Sebastian Merlos, Hugo Barabucci) in the final showdown at 4 p.m.

    Travieso advanced into the final with a 10-7 victory over Goose Creek in Wednesday's other semifinal.

    After the Molina Cup final awards presentation, the draw for the $100,000 World Cup, featuring a club record 17 teams, will be held.

    With the game tied 9-9 going into the fifth chukker, Arellano, playing well above his 5-goal rating, converted a 30-yard penalty shot after Dutta Corp was called for shading and lost its challenge on the play. Arellano was able to convert despite his horse walking sideways during his approach.

    Brothers Inaki and Magoo Laprida of Beverly Equestrian working together.

    Beverly Equestrian took a 10-9 lead at the 6:35 mark and never relinquished the lead.

    "We did a couple switches in our strategy that were key," Arellano said. "We started off playing open and it worked. Then they shut us down and started beating us to the ball. We stopped opening up and shut them down early on defense. We held the ball, got close to the goal and then shot. Once we were up by a goal, we opened it up again. That's what I think made the difference."

    Arellano had three goals and Inaki Laprida had two goals in the final two chukkers to enable Beverly Equestrian to outscore Dutta Corp, 5-2. The Obregon family dog was so excited it ran onto the field during the fifth chukker and was quickly escorted off.

    "We have never practiced together but I have seen them play so much that I was looking forward to playing with them," Arellano said of the Laprida brothers.

    Magoo Laprida of Beverly Equestrian charges downfield to goal.

    Beverly Equestrian dominated the throw-ins while brothers Magoo and Inaki Laprida fed off each other. Both were ball-hawkers when needed, stealing the ball and passing to each other and Arellano.

    "These two guys are a lot of fun to play with and Bill is a great sponsor to play for," Arellano said. "There is a very good vibe on this team."

    On a key play with Beverly Equestrian holding a slim lead, 12-11, with 4:35 left in the game, Magoo Laprida stopped Gracida's 60-yard penalty after a safety call and passed to Arellano, who scored from 30 yards out with 4:02 left for a 13-11 advantage.

    "We had to fight all the way, we knew it was going to be tough," Magoo Laprida said. "We played well on defense and then we scored the goals and that was the key."

    Carlucho Arellano of Beverly Equestrian outraces defenders Timmy Dutta and Matias Magrini.

    A frustrated Dutta Corp, one of the pre-tournament favorites, tried to claw its way back but penalties and missed scoring opportunities sealed its fate. After another missed goal by Dutta Corp, Arellano came up with an incredible angled shot with 1:14 left to seal the win.

    "It's crazy, I am really happy for Bill, he is a really good guy," Magoo Laprida said. "He has a nice 
    organization he is starting. I thank my brother and Nacho Figueras for giving me a chance to play with him."

    For Ballhaus, the team patron, it was a dream come true. He only got on a horse five and a half years ago and slowly worked his way through low and medium goal polo before deciding to field a 20-goal team at Grand Champions, which has helped to develop several new teams including Travieso and Dutta Corp.

    "I am just happy that we played well today," Ballhaus said. "We knew that the Dutta team was going to be really tough because we've seen them and we played against them.
    "It was a good experience for us because we came out with a strategy and it worked," Ballhaus said. 

    Magoo Laprida of Beverly Equestrian outraces defender Matias Magrini.

    "Then they stopped it and we had to shift our strategy. It was a good experience for our team to go through that and keep our heads. We worked together as a team to adapt and that made the difference in the game.

    "Carlucho made some amazing goals," Ballhaus said. "Magoo was amazing with the ball and Inaki made some amazing plays. The brothers have played together a long time and it shows. You can see it on the field, they know what each other is thinking, they know what they are going to do before they do it. Carlucho is a great complement, he is the ultimate team player and his style sits really well with Inaki and Magoo.
    "Everybody just played really well and we had to, to beat this team. It took all of us playing really well together and that's what we did and that's how we were able to squeak out a win."

    Ballhaus was pleased with his string of horses that's taken him four years to develop.

    "I am really happy with my horses," Ballhaus said. "I've just built up my string over the last three, four years. I had a lot of confidence in my horses but until you play them in a 20-goal league you don't know how they are going to do. My horses have played absolutely amazing."

    Arellano scored a game-high six goals. Inaki Laprida followed with four goals, Magoo Laprida with three and Ballhaus with one goal.

    Piki Alberdi of Dutta Corp blocks Inaki Laprida's goal attempt.

    Magrini and Gracida each had three goals for Dutta Corp. Dutta and Alberdi each had two goals.

    "Now we play on Saturday," Arellano said. "It doesn't give us much time but we will give it our best."

    Travieso is the first team to qualify for back-to-back 20-goal tournament finals during the winter season at Grand Champions.

    Travieso will make its second 20-goal tournament final appearance. Travieso (Tony Calle, Torito Ruiz, Sebastian Merlos, Hugo Barabucci) won the prestigious Sterling Cup.

    The Molina Cup, a first-year 20-goal tournament, comes on the heels of the successful and historical 20-goal Sterling Cup.

    The two-week tournament features a star-studded lineup of some of the world's top players from six different countries.

    Magoo Laprida of Beverly Equestrian scores one of his three goals. 
    Photos by ChukkerTV
    The 120-year-old handcrafted silver Molina Cup trophy was given to Marc Ganzi by Alfredo Molina, Chairman of the Phoenix-based Molina Group and owner of Molina Fine Jewelers.

    Ganzi was competing in the Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships this past fall and admired Molina's work with the winning trophy presented to two-time defending champion Aspen Valley Polo Club (Melissa Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Nic Roldan) at the Scottsdale event.

    The tournament is being live-streamed on Wellington-based ChukkerTV, worldwide leaders in polo broadcasting.