On a perfect sun-drenched day, Amaala won its first U.S. polo tournament Tuesday at Grand Champions Polo Club.

Amaala (Tincho Merlos 7, Nacho Figueras 6, Facu Llorente 7, Juan Bollini 5) rallied in the sixth chukker to defeat Seminole Casino (Melissa Ganzi 0, Nic Roldan 8, Lucas James 8, Alejandro Novillo Astrada 8), 10-8, to capture the Power Horse Trophy.

Figueras was named Most Valuable Player after scoring a game-high seven goals. 

Twitter, an 8-year-old mare, played by Figueras in the second chukker and bred by his Cria Yatay world-class breeding program in Argentina, was selected the World Polo League’s Best Playing Pony.

“She’s out of a mare called Luna Nueva, daughter of Luna which is a legendary horse that Gonzalo Pieres used to play,” Figueras said. “It is a very famous bloodline and amazing to have a horse that you bred perform well. It’s always an extra emotion.”

The lead changed hands four times in the game. Amaala jumped out to a 5-2 advantage behind Figueras’ lofted goal late in the second chukker.

Seminole Casino tied the game at 5-5 when Ganzi scooped up a missed Roldan shot to score. Amaala regained the lead, 6-5, in the fifth chukker and led 7-5 before another Ganzi goal cut the lead to one, 7-6.

The teams exchanged goals in the sixth chukker before back-to-back goals by Ganzi tied the game at 8-8. In the last three minutes, Llorente and Figueras goals gave Amaala a 10-8 lead. Roldan scored late in the game before time ran out.

“It’s great that we can win a tournament with the name of this team and its colors,” Figueras said. “It’s a proud moment for all of us.”

Figueras was recently named Brand Ambassador for Amaala, an ultra exclusive wellness tourism destination under development located on Saudi Arabia’s northwestern coast. 

“I am very proud to be a part of Amaala,” Figueras said. “It involves wellness, sports and health. It’s really an amazing project. It’s a beautiful, fantastic part of the world.” 

Figueras is helping shape the world-class polo facilities at Amaala including design, construction, operations, marketing and event planning of its polo facilities. He is also helping to establish the Amaala Polo Training Academy to encourage youth participation.

The Power Horse title was Amaala’s second polo title. Last month Figueras led Team Amaala to a historical 7-3 victory over Adolfo Cambiaso’s Team AlUla in the two-day AlUla Desert Polo tournament. 

“We had a very good run in the desert of Saudi Arabia,” Figueras said. “But winning here in Florida in our first year involvement with polo is a wonderful thing.”

Team Richard Mille, led by Pablo MacDonough and Al Nahla Bentley, led by Pelon Stirling, also competed. It was Saudi Arabia’s first official polo title held in the historic UNESCO World Heritage Site of AlUla.

“It’s an amazing place with an amazing history, amazing heritage and amazing first tournament for the Saudi Polo Federation,” Figueras said. “I was very honored to be there and  delighted that we were able to win. This country is going through a transformation and there are amazing years to come.”

In addition to Figueras’ seven goals, Merlos had two goals and Llorente added one goal. For Seminole Casino, Ganzi scored a team-high six goals and Roldan had three.

The WPL’s Founders Cup continues with the semifinals on Friday. Seminole Casino plays Scone at SD Farms at 11 a.m. Valiente plays SD Farms at 4 p.m. at Valiente Field 1.

Amaala, one of three new team sponsors competing in the Founders Cup, will play STM Saturday in the consolation game at noon at Jan Pamela Field 3.  Amaala will also compete in the WPL’s Palm Beach Open and Triple Crown of Polo to finish out the winter season.

“Amaala is going to support us for the rest of the season,” Figueras said. “We’re excited for the rest of the season. We keep fighting and trying.”

Ten teams are competing in the first of three WPL tournaments offering major prize money. The winner of the Founders Cup will earn $60,000 and winner of the Molina Cup subsidiary game will earn $40,000.

Seminole Casino Coconut Creek is the hospitality sponsor for the World Polo League. Open 24/7, 365 days a year, Seminole Casino Coconut Creek presents a fully integrated, energized, stylish and upscale local’s casino experience, world-class dining, including its award-winning steakhouse, NYY Steak and live entertainment.

Tickets, ranging from $15 to $250, for the Sunday featured WPL games at 4 p.m. at Grand Champions Polo Club are on sale now at www.worldpolo.org.

Ticket price breakdown for the new CoCo Cabana Stadium is:

VIP $250, Upper Level (rain or shine, no refunds), includes VIP parking access,  exclusive luxury-style bar and lounge seating, gourmet light dinner buffet, exclusive chef station, VIP Open bar (excluding champagne and bottle service) and VIP swag bags.

VIP $100, Lower Level (rain or shine, no refunds), includes VIP parking access,  exclusive luxury-style bar and lounge seating, gourmet light bites and Worth Avenue retailer experience.

Valet Parking $15, select quality valet parking and general admission is free for fans who park across the field from the stadium.

Co-founded by Grand Champions owner and president Melissa Ganzi and Valiente Polo Farm owner Bob Jornayvaz, the successful 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, with 11 tournament-quality fields to play on, features the Feb. 6-16 All-Star Challenge won by Valiente; Feb. 19-March 1 Founders Cup, March 4-22 Palm Beach Open and March 28-April 18 Triple Crown of Polo. 

The WPL schedule also features the unique April 6-12 U.S. National Mixed Doubles Championship, created by Jornayvaz. It pairs men and women players. There is also the April 9-12 WPL Beach Polo World Cup in Miami Beach.

The World Polo League attracts a large international field of players from all corners of the world  including Australia, Chile, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Argentina, Canada, Ecuador, Brazil, Switzerland, France, Germany, Uruguay, Venezuela, Azerbaijan, South Africa, Nigeria and England.

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.

For more information and to watch the games go to www.worldpolo.org for a complete library of WPL first-season games.

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Sharon Robb

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