BUENOS AIRES - The USPA is pleased to announce the first American-bred horse to be honored by the Argentine Polo Horse Breeders Association. The Asociación Argentina de Criadores de Caballos de Polo honored Chocolate as the Best-Playing American-bred Polo Pony in the 122nd Campeonato Abierto Argentino de Polo (Argentine Open Polo Championship 2015) in Palermo.
Chocolate, owned by Valiente Polo, is one of Adolfo Cambiaso's favorite mounts. "Chocolate is one of the best horses I have played in my career," he said. "He has good power, a good temperament and a really sensitive mouth."
"It's great that we share horses with Bob (Jornayvaz)," added Cambiaso. "That way we are always very well-mounted wherever we go." Cambiaso competed Chocolate through the Argentine season on his way to winning a history-making third consecutive Triple Crown at Palermo on Dec. 12. He played the horse in two pivotal chukkers of the 2015 Final, which La Dolfina won 13-12 over Ellerstina.
Chocolate also won Best-Playing Pony at the 2015 Tortugas Open and was heralded as the top polo pony in the world after being awarded the Susan Townley Cup for Best-Playing Pony in the 2013 Argentine Open. Cambiaso has ridden a horse to that ward seven times. "We are extremely excited and so proud of Chocolate," said Valiente patron Jornayvaz. "He is a remarkable horse. We're happy that our organization was able to give him the opportunity to become the champion he is."
Chocolate found his way to the Valiente string from breeder Ken Berry in California, who felt there was something special about the Thoroughbred gelding. He got in touch with Jornayvaz, who bought him as a younger horse. Chocolate is now 12 years old.
Jornayvaz described Chocolate as "a great combo of talents who also has size," adding that "Adolfo and Miguel (Novillo Astrada) love him." Novillo Astrada has also competed Chocolate. Cambiaso, who was riding the horse in the United States, asked Jornayvaz to bring him to Argentina several years ago so he could play him in the Argentine season. "I'm glad we did," said Jornayvaz. "It's been an incredible three years."
Chocolate, who is not an off-the-track Thoroughbred, has a lineage that includes several polo-playing ancestors. The dark bay gelding (by Morningstar out of Empress) was born in June 2003 in the Santa Ynez Valley near Santa Barbara, California. Both his parents were Thoroughbreds. Joel Baker owned the sire; Berry owned the dam and the foal.