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The USPA Lucchese Silver Cup began Friday, August 1st at Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club. The Silver Cup was founded in 1974 and serves as a yearly stage for some of the best players and horses in the world. "The USPA Lucchese Silver Cup, hosted by the beautiful Santa Barbara Polo Club, is one of the USPA’s most prestigious and exciting events," said Peter Rizzo, CEO of the U.S. Polo Association.
The road to the Silver Cup final
Though ERG emerged the victors of the Nespresso America Cup (which wrapped just days before on July 27th), Lucchese (John Muse, Tommy Collingwood, Sapo Caset and Jeff Hall) defeated the team 13 to 12 on the opening day of Silver Cup play.
International Polo Club Palm Beach reports, “[The] second chukker play saw a more active Lucchese foursome get on track as the physical aspect of the game continued to escalate.”
The match was energetic and forceful throughout, and Lucchese ended the first half with a 7 to 6 lead thanks to goals from Caset and Collingwood. Lucchese had a three-goal lead as the match game to a close when ERG’s Sebastian Merlos scored a goal and penalty shot. However, it was not enough for ERG to take the win, and Lucchese took the victory.
Sunday, August 3rd, Lucchese saw a strong win over FMB at 15 to 6. IPCPB says, “FMB had their best offensive chukker of the game in the fifth. . .but it was hardly enough. Two goals from Hall and two from teammate Caset kept Lucchese far in the lead at 12 to 6.” The win elevated Lucchese’s record to 2-0.
At the time of the match August 8th against Wildcat, Lucchese had already solidified a place in the Lucchese Silver Cup final game on Sunday, August 10th. Even so, the team was not going to add a loss to their perfect tournament record. IPCPB got the scoop from Tommy Collingwood after the game who said, “We were trying to save the horses. We thought it would be an easy practice-like game, but it appears that [Wildcat] had other ideas.”
IPCPB continues its coverage, “After a motivationally charged halftime speech from team captain John Muse, a refocused Lucchese team took the field in the fourth chukker and dominated the balance of the game. Lucchese outscored Wildcat 7 to 0 in the final three chukkers of the game for an 11 to 7 final [score].”
Texans meet to battle for the Cup
The August 10th final match of the Silver Cup held even more significance for Lucchese and ERG, as both teams hail from Texas — and both fought until the bitter end to determine the winner of the Silver Cup.
From the outset, each team rapidly responded to the other’s goals. By half time, Lucchese had seen goals by both Sapo Caset and Jeff Hall, but Sebastian Merlos edged ERG ahead of Lucchese 7 to 6.
By the time ERG had established a 14 to 10 lead, a reinvigorated Lucchese team upped its game and quickened the pace of scoring. “Caset quickly added two goals from the field, 14-12. Hall scored Lucchese’s third goal of the chukker to make it a one goal game, 14-13. . .An ERG foul gave Lucchese the opportunity to tie the game, which Caset did on a 30-yard penalty goal, 14-14.” John Muse then cleared a goal a ball out of the goalmouth to put the match in overtime.
After just a few minutes of play, Caset quickly ended the overtime sudden-death chukker scoring with a tightly executed pass from Hall. Deservingly, Sapo was named MVP for the match.
“I’ve won [the USPA Silver Cup] twice, and it’s a thrill to win it a third time. Obviously since we’re sponsoring the cup, I really wanted it badly,” said John Muse after the final game. “I knew it was going to be a war and it could go either way. ERG is a very, very tough team. We had two weak chukkers, but I’m really proud of my teammates because they never quit. Everybody did something. We didn’t quit — and we came in on top.”
John Muse, born and bred Texan and current Chairman of Lucchese Bootmaker, became interested in polo when he moved to England for business in 1998. As a lifelong athlete and equine enthusiast, Muse’s polo appreciation soon elevated from spectator to player while learning and playing club chukkers at the Ascot Park Polo Club in Berkshire, England. Three years later as a patron, he began playing at the medium goal level. ...