The third time was the charm for Lyndon Lea in the most prestigious tournament at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club. Lea’s polo team, Zacara, won the championship of the Bombardier Pacific Coast Open , defeating Piocho Ranch 14-10 before a crowd of more than 1,000 Sunday afternoon, August 26.
Lea had sponsored teams in the PCO the two previous years under the name Jimmy Choo, the shoe brand. The Londoner divested that company from his holdings and renamed the team after his children, Zachary and Chiara. He played a supporting role for three outstanding teammates. Jack “Ruki” Baillieu and Brandon Phillips each scored five goals Sunday, and Nick Roldan pitched in four.
After Phillips made the only goal of the sixth and final chukker, Lea took one for the team with two and a half minutes remaining in the match. He was thrown from his horse while trying to defend a Piocho attack at the north end of the field. More than 10 minutes elapsed before he got to his feet and finished the match with a very sore back. “That grass was a little harder than I expected,” Lea said.
Named the most valuable amateur of the tournament, Lea said the PCO trophy ranked right up there with the Royal Windsor Cup that his sponsored team, Typhoo, won in England three years ago. Queen Elizabeth II presented him with that trophy. Ballieu, a rugged Australian, also rode for Lea then.
Roldan, a native of Argentina whose long drives set up many of Zacara’s scoring chances, was named the most valuable professional of the Pacific Coast Open.
Zacara built up a 10-5 lead in the fourth chukker, but Piocho Ranch came roaring back on a spectacular outburst by super sub Julio Arellano. He flew into Santa Barbara on Saturday night to replace the injured Memo Gracido. In the fifth chukker, riding one of Gracida’s mares, Arellano scored three goals, the last cutting Zacara’s lead to 11-10. Goals by Roldan and Baillieu in the final minutes of the period put Zacara back in control.
By a vote of the players, the Robert Skene Trophy for outstanding play and sportsmanship was awarded to Gonzalito Pieres, the 24-year-old star of the Audi Polo team. Audi won the consolation title on Saturday.
Preceding Sunday’s game, there was moment of silence for Miguel Torres, a beloved local polo veteran who died a few days earlier of a brain tumor. His legacy is carried on by his sons Miguelito and Santi.