Colorado remained unbeaten and WPL won its first game Thursday in the Triple Crown of Polo while the World Polo League will make a little more history on Friday with a unique first-of-its kind game.
The World Polo League U.S. National Mixed Doubles Championship, featuring two men and two women with combined handicaps, will be the feature game Friday at 4 p.m. at Valiente Polo Farm.
Valiente (Bob Jornayvaz, Mia Novillo Astrada, Mia Cambiaso, Adolfo Cambiaso) will play Audi (Marc Ganzi, Pablo MacDonough/Juan Martin Nero, Nina Clarkin, Mili Sanchez). The game will pit 10-goalers Cambiaso and Clarkin against each other.
“That will be fun, really fun,” Adolfo Cambiaso said.
Added Bob Jornayvaz, “Polo is all about having fun and we are going to have fun.”
In the only WPL action on Friday, Audi (Marc Ganzi, 2, Nic Roldan, 8, Pablo MacDonough, 10, Kris Kampsen, 6) and Grand Champions (Grant Ganzi, 3, Juancito Bollini, 4, Juan Martin Nero, 10, Rodrigo Andrade, 9) will meet in the battle of the unbeatens at 10 a.m. at Valiente Polo Farm Field 2.
In World Polo League action on Thursday, WPL (Chris Dawson, 2, Guillermo Terrera, 8, Agustin Nero, 6, Diego Cavanagh, 9) defeated Mandarina (Melissa Ganzi, 0, Alfredo Bigatti, 8, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 8, Pablo Spinacci, 6), 11-7, for its first win of the Triple Crown of Polo tournament at windswept Grand Champions Polo Club.
WPL had its work cut out for it in the opening chukker. Mandarina opened with a 4-0 lead on handicap and quickly jumped out to a 6-1 cushion with 2:46 left in the second chukker.
In the fast-paced, wide open game, WPL started to claw its way back scoring three unanswered goals to trail, 6-4, at the half. The WPL’s momentum continued in the second half when Terrera worked his way through a crowd of defenders to score and trail by one, 6-5.
Dawson, making his 26-goal debut, scored the tying goal with 1:38 left in the fourth chukker. After that, it was all WPL with three more unanswered goals before Mandarina scored its first goal in the second half when Novillo Astrada scooped up the ball at his own 60-yard line and raced to score despite Nero closely defending.
Terrera scored four of his six goals in the second half.
“It was a little bit tricky because we were 6-1, but we gave them four or five goals,” Terrera said. “In the plays we were winning, but losing on the scoreboard. We kept our minds on our plays and not the scoreboard.
“This was a big game for us to win because now we have a chance to go to the semis,” Terrera said.
For Dawson, president and founder of Hawaii Polo Life and USPA Circuit Governor of the Hawaiian Islands, it was a dream come true to play high goal alongside and against some of the best polo players in the world. Dawson praised Robertito Zedda and the Jornayvaz family for the opportunity to play in the WPL game.
“I was lucky to get a chance to play on this team,” Dawson said. “They make it really easy. It’s very fast, really nice guys and super well-organized. The horses are amazing. It’s world-class polo, world-class guys, world-class fields on world-class horses. This was a guest appearance for me. It was a taste and it tasted really good.
“My team today was a dream team,” Dawson said. “I had a lot of fun. It was a gift. The tempo takes a little getting used to. The ball is changing direction so fast. The line is changing so quickly. It is distinctly different from 20 and 22 goal polo for sure.”
Novillo Astrada was disappointed with the loss but pleased the team never let up. Mandarina missed three scoring opportunities in the final chukker.
“We made some mistakes and they took advantage of that,” Novillo Astrada said. “We never gave up. We fought to the end. In the last chukker we had a few chances to score and we were not able to score and get closer on the scoreboard.”
Terrera led WPL with six goals. Cavanagh added three goals and Dawson and Nero each had one goal. Novillo Astrada led Mandarina with three goals and Spinacci added one. WPL evened its record to 1-1 in Bracket II play, setting up an interesting matchup with Audi in Sunday’s feature game at GCPC. Mandarina dropped to 0-2 and will play Grand Champions also on Sunday.
In the second game of the WPL doubleheader, Colorado (Rob Jornayvaz, 2, Juan Martin Zubia, 7, Jero del Carril, 7, Adolfo Cambiaso, 10) left no doubt it is the tournament favorite with a 14-12 victory over Valiente (Bob Jornayvaz, 2, Santi Torres, 6, Pelon Stirling, 10, Alejandro Tarranco, 8) at blustery Valiente Polo Farm.
Don’t let the score fool you. Colorado was a well-oiled machine from the opening throw-in running up a 9-3 halftime lead and 14-7 advantage after five chukkers. It wasn’t until the final three minutes, Valiente scored five unanswered goals before time ran out.
“We started well more or less, played well in the second and third chukkers and then nothing, we had a free gap in the last two,” Cambiaso said.
“For me it’s fun to play with Rob once in a while because we don’t play much together,” said Cambiaso who usually plays with his father, Bob Jornayvaz. “We are not looking ahead to the final yet, we need to win the next game first.”
The 19-year-old Zubia had a team-high six goals for Colorado. Del Carril had four goals, Cambiaso added three and Jornayvaz had one. For Valiente, Stirling led the team with six goals. Torres and Tarranco each had three goals. Colorado is 2-0 and Valiente is 1-1 in Bracket I play.
The WPL is being live streamed on ESPN Deportes and ChukkerTV/Polo Channel/Horseplay with Gus Whitelaw calling the action. For more information go to www.worldpolo.org.
Co-founded by Grand Champions owners Melissa and Marc Ganzi and Valiente Polo Farm owner Bob Jornayvaz, the World Polo League is the only 26-goal polo in the world outside of Argentina. The WPL is preserving the highest level of polo and its rich, hallowed tradition in the U.S.
The WPL has its own set of simpler fan-friendly rules to improve the flow and action of the game.
The WPL, with 11 tournament-quality fields to play on, features the All-Star Challenge Draw Tournament, Founders Cup, Palm Beach Open and Triple Crown of Polo. The WPL is open to teams that wish to compete in one or more of the tournaments. Games are offered on the flat (Open) and on Handicap.
The World Polo League has attracted a large international field of players from all corners of the world including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Nigeria, New Zealand, Uruguay and U.S.
Grand Champions and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique polo facility in Wellington with 120 stalls in five self-contained barns, exercise track, five climate-controlled tack rooms, vet room, staff quarters, guest house and three polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation including one field for stick-and-ball with plans to build more polo fields in the future.