|Opening World Polo League Tournament|
In news from across the pond, the initial tournament of the World Polo League (WPL) – the All-Star Challenge has been played at Grand Champions Polo Club, in Wellington, Florida. Founded by Grand Champions owners Melissa and Marc Ganzi, the WPL is the only 26-goal polo in the world outside of Argentina and was their response to the US Open being downgraded to 22 goal in 2019. The All-Star Challenge will be followed by a series of tournaments that will include: Founder’s Cup, Palm Beach Open, Triple Crown of Polo, and Beach Polo World Cup; culminating with Miami Beach Polo on 21-25 April.
To kick things off for the WPL a healthy seven teams entered to compete in the 26 goal All-Star Challenge. The qualifiers boiled down to the Final between Hawaii Polo Life and Richard Mille. Fresh from their success together in the Argentine Open it was interesting to see Pablo Mc Donough orchestrating the Richard Mille team against his Palermo team mate Adolfo Cambiaso, who was playing with his son Poroto for Hawaii Polo Life. The formidable Cambiaso father-and -son duo rounded off the UK high goal season with a win in the Cowdray Gold Cup, so it truly was a 10 goal master class as the two teams headed by these Goliaths of the polo world battled it out for the first of the WPL tournaments.
Hawaii Polo Life looked strong initially, with Poroto marking his dominance, despite his young age by seizing control of the game and running straight to goal, but Jeta Castagnola, Mac Donough and their crew were not going down without a fight. Close marking and great four man polo ensued, with the end result too close to call at the end of the first half with Hawaii Polo Life in the lead by 5-3.
Trouble started for Hawaii Polo Life in the fourth chukka when they challenged the umpire’s call on a right of way violation. They lost the challenge and incurred a technical foul for unsportsmanlike conduct, allowing Jeta Castagnola and Marc Ganzi to score on penalty shots. Richard Mille converted four penalties during this pivotal chukka, while Jejo Taranco scored one goal for Hawaii Polo Life. The chukka ended with Richard Mille leading 7-6. From then on Richard Mille dominated the play, stretching their lead to 13 with only 2 in reply from their opponents and so it was that Richard Mille carried the day, winning with a final score of 13-8.
Pablo MacDonough, who was named Most Valuable Player, commented after the game, “We knew it would be a tough game against that team, but the fifth chukka was decisive.” The Argentine Polo Association Best Playing Pony was La Dolfina Volaris, a seven-year-old mare played in the second chukka by Poroto Cambiaso. The World Polo League Best Playing Pony was Clavel, owned and played by Paco de Narvaez. Whilst the American Polo Horse Association Best Playing Pony was Irenita Rastrojera, played by Pablo MacDonough. Next up for the WPL is the Founder’s Cup, which is due to start on 21 February. Currently all matches are closed to the public due to Covid-19 restrictions, but matches can be viewed on ChukkerTV. Click here to watch.
All-Star Challenge Final Teams:
Richard Mille (26): Marc Ganzi (2), Camilo ‘Jeta’ Castagnola (8), Pablo Mac Donough (10) & Paco De Narváez (6)
Hawaii Polo Life (26): Chris Dawson (2), Jejo Taranco (8), Poroto Cambiaso (6) & Adolfo Cambiaso (10)
Photograph: Richard Mille, winners of All-Star Challenge. By ChukkerTV