The build-up for the highly-anticipated second season of the World Polo League has begun.
By Sharon Robb
After a successful inaugural season with rave reviews from players, sponsors, fans and media, the league returns with more teams and star-studded lineup of players.
The league has at least 11 teams competing and may have three or four more committed before the Feb. 3 All-Star Challenge Draw for the season-opening tournament.
“The fact we are starting out the season with 11 teams that are involved and committed, and maybe a few more teams to come, says everything about the quality of polo from last year,” said World Polo League Commissioner Dale Smicklas.
Two of the sport’s hottest players, brothers Barto and Camilo Castagnola will play for the firsttime together in the U.S. for Richard Mille joining teammates 10-goaler Pablo MacDonough and Marc Ganzi.
MacDonough, the Brand Ambassador for the Swiss watchmaking brand Richard Mille, is coming off MVP honors and record seventh Argentine Open victory with La Dolfina and second consecutive title at the St. Regis World Snow Polo Championship.
The sons of former 10-goaler Lolo Castagnola made their debut in the 2019 Argentine Open at Palermo at the age of 18 and 16 respectively for La Natividad. Their father competed in 14 Argentine Opens, winning six and finishing runner-up three times.
The Argentine Association of Polo recently raised Barto Castagnola from 7 to 9 and Camilo Castagnola from 6 to 8.
The pair have won the President’s Cup in Ghantoot (Abu Dhabi), La Cañada Open, British Open Gold Cup, Junior Open, Medium Goal Metro Mediano, the High Goal Metro, and managed to qualify for the Argentine Open.
Barto and Camilo Castignola have played at Grand Champions Polo Club in tournaments including the USPA National 20-Goal and Polo Gear Challenge.“There is no doubt they are the talk of polo,” Smicklas said. “They are hot as anybody in the world right now and the polo world eyes will be on their team bringing even more exposure for the World Polo League.”
Among other 10-goalers are Adolfo Cambiaso and Juan Martin Nero, also coming off a record seventh consecutive Argentine Open victory with La Dolfina. Nero is fully recovered from a broken ankle sustained in the Argentine Open final. Other players in the star-studded league are Rodrigo Andrade, Nic Roldan, Diego Cavanagh, Alejandro and Nacho Novillo Astrada, Sebastian and Tincho Merlos, Juan Martin Zubia, Jero del Carril and Nacho Figueras. The official team sponsors and rosters will be announced when finalized.
Co-founded by Grand Champions owners Melissa and Marc Ganzi and Valiente Polo Farm and J5Equestrian owner Bob Jornayvaz, the three-month high goal league is the only 26-goal polo in the world outside of Argentina, preserving the highest level of polo and its rich, hallowed tradition in the U.S.
“We just couldn’t have had a better first season of polo,” Jornayvaz said. “We got the polo really, really right and that’s what the first season was all about, getting the polo right and provingto the world we could do what we said we were going to do and that was put on world-class polo at world-class speeds. I think we changed the game in a very significant way.”
The World Polo League attracted a large internationalfield of players from all corners of the world including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Nigeria, New Zealand, Uruguay and U.S. “I am really happy with the sportsmanship in the league and very pleased with how far we came as a league in one short year,” Marc Ganzi said. “I think we have shown people a lot…wide open polo at its best.” “Everyone worked hard to make this league a success its’ first year,” said Melissa Ganzi. “We couldn’t have asked for a more successful year and can’t wait for this season. It’s going to be amazing.” Smicklas echoed the co-founders’ sentiments and added, “I can’t even begin to tell you how significant to me that 26-goal level is maintained in this country. I have never seen the U.S. not have 26-goal polo.
“The second season is looking like it is beginning to flourish even farther than last year. I am absolutely sure that this level of polo is more attractive polo to watch. It’s the fastest and most thrilling.
“Every sponsor and team owner felt the safest they felt in the WPL under our guidelines and that’s a huge statement for amateur players. No patron was scared or felt in danger. That says a lot about the professional players we have in the World Polo League.”
The four WPL tournaments during the inaugural season thrilled record crowds, worldwide livestream viewing audiences and sponsors at Grand Champions Polo Club, Valiente Polo Farm and Jan Pamela Field.
In the season-opening All-Star Challenge Tournament, Valiente (Agustin Nero, 6, Santi Torres, 6, Pablo MacDonough, 10, Poroto Cambiaso, 3) took a 10-9 overtime victory over Colorado (Rob Jornayvaz, 2, Juan Martin Zubia, 7, Rodrigo Andrade, 9, Jero del Carril, 7).
In the Founders Cup final, Grand Champions (Grant Ganzi, 3, Juancito Bollini, 4, Rodrigo Andrade, 9, Juan Martin Nero, 10) knocked off Valiente (Bob Jornayvaz, 2, Agustin Nero, 6, Santi Torres, 6, Adolfo Cambiaso, 10), 12-11 in overtime. In the Palm Beach Open, SD Farms (Sayyu Dantata, 2, Santi Torres, 6, Guillermo Terrera, 8, Adolfo Cambiaso, 10) won its first 26-goal title in team history with an 11-6 rout of Audi (Marc Ganzi, 2, Nic Roldan, 8, Pablo MacDonough, 10, Kris Kampsen, 6). It was also the first 26-goal WPL tournament wins for Dantata and Cambiaso.
In a thrilling rain-soaked season finale, Colorado (Rob Jornayvaz, 2, Juan Martin Zubia, 7, Jero del Carril, 7, Adolfo Cambiaso, 10) held off Audi (Marc Ganzi, 2, Nic Roldan, 8, Pablo MacDonough, 10, Kris Kampsen, 6), 9-8, to win the prestigious Triple Crown of Polo.
The league’s top scorers were: Pelon Stirling, 74; Pablo MacDonough, 73; Juan Martin Nero, 71; Guillermo Terrera, 69; Diego Cavanagh, 63; Adolfo Cambiaso, 61; Juan Martin Zubia, 61; Jero del Carril, 57; Juan Martin Obregon, 56; and Nic Roldan, 53.
In a first-of-its-kind tournament, Valiente (Bob Jornayvaz, Pamela Flanagan, Mia Cambiaso, Adolfo Cambiaso) defeated Audi (Milli Sanchez, Nina Clarkin, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Marc Ganzi), 6-4, in the WPL U.S. National Mixed Doubles Polo Championship. Organizers hope to have at least four teams compete this season.
Created by Bob Jornayvaz, the unique game featured two men and two women with combined handicaps on each team. 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. The club features 18 safe and well-manicured fields including 11 tournament-grade polo fields.
2020 WORLD POLO LEAGUE SCHEDULE
Feb. 3, All-Star Challenge Draw
Feb. 5-16, All-Star Challenge
Feb. 19-Mar. 1, Founder’s Cup
Mar. 4-22, Palm Beach Open
Mar. 28-Apr. 18, Triple Crown of Polo Apr. 6-12, U.S.
National Mixed Doubles Polo Championship
Games at Grand Champions Polo Club, Valiente Polo Farm and other local fields, call our hotline to receive daily game and field information.