By: Rebecca Baldridge
Photos by: ChukkerTV
Miami, FL, April 29, 2021— Seminole Casino Coconut Creek defeated Land Rover by a score of 9-6 to capture the World Polo League Beach Polo title.
The third day of the WPL Beach Polo World Cup began with Seminole Casino Coconut Creek (Melissa Ganzi, Nacho Figueras, and Alejandro Novillo Astrada) vying for the Beach Polo title against Land Rover (Philip de Groot, Barto Castagnola, and Tito Gaudenzi). Land Rover, a 13-goal team, started the match with a two-goal advantage based on Seminole Casino Coconut Creek‘s 15-goal team handicap.
Melissa Ganzi goes for the long shot to goal
Seminole Casino Coconut Creek was off the mark quickly to compensate for Land Rover’s handicap advantage, with Nacho Figueras taking the ball to goal seconds into play. Melissa Ganzi followed by converting a Penalty 2, and Alejandro Novillo Astrada scored to end the first chukker with a 3-2 lead over Land Rover. Barto Castagnola was the first to score in the second period, knocking in Land Rover’s only goal of the chukker on a penalty. Ganzi and Novillo Astrada both put the ball through for Seminole Casino, who ended the half ahead 5-3.
Alejandro Novillo Astrada gains possession of the play with Barto Castagnola on the defense
At the beginning of the third chukker, Barto Castagnola saw the ball go just wide after firing off a powerful shot from downfield, with Figueras following up with a successful shot on goal. Barely a minute later, Novillo Astrada scored again for Seminole Casino Coconut Creek to put them ahead by 7-3. Castagnola broke through the defense to score, but Figueras broke from the pack to find the posts again.
Juan Bollini watches Grant Ganzi‘s long shot
Going into the final chukker, Seminole Casino Coconut Creek was leading 8-4. Land Rover was the first to score, with an important goal from Castagnola in attempt to close the gap. Melissa Ganzi answered with a goal of her own, taking her team’s lead back to four goals. As the clock ticked down, Novillo Astrada fouled Tito Gaudenzi, and Castagnola did the honors for Land Rover, converting a Penalty 2. The match ended in a 9-6 win for Seminole Casino Coconut Creek to take the Beach Polo title. Each of the Seminole Casino Coconut Creek players scored three goals, while Barto Castagnola scored all of Land Rover’s four goals from the field or penalty line.
Juancito Bollini and Jeta Castagnola race for possession of the ball
Following the championship match, The Setai (Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, and Torito Ruiz) took on World Polo League (Vinny Sangaline, Jeta Castagnola, and Juan Bollini) for the Casablanca Trophy. The Setai received one goal on handicap.
Juan Bollini assists Brazilian artist Romero Britto get his feel for the saddle before the Celebrity match
Juan Bollini struck first for WPL, with son Juancito answering to end the period 2-1 for The Setai. Jeta Castagnola put the first goal on the board in the second chukker with a Penalty 2 conversion, while Torito Ruiz put The Setai on the board to end the half 3-2 for his team. Vinny Sangaline scored an equalizer in the third chukker, while The Setai couldn’t manage to get on goal. The tables were turned in the final chukker, and Juancito Bollini put the ball through for The Setai. That was the only goal of the chukker and The Setai took the Casablanca Trophy with a final score of 4-3.
Tito Guadenzi and Gussie Busch battle for possession
Next came the highly anticipated Celebrity Charity Cup to benefit Give Back for Special Equestrians. The Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame (Marlon Humphrey of the Baltimore Ravens, Gussie Busch and Marc Ganzi) took on the Polo Training Foundation (Artist Romero Britto, Actor Sterling Jones, and Nacho Figueras). Romero Britto scored the only goal for the Museum of Polo, while Marc Ganzi scored two goals for PTF for the win. Marlon Humphrey, who only just began riding a month ago, looked impressively comfortable on his horse.
Juan Martin Zubia takes control as Horacio Heguy goes for the hook
PTF remained on the field and were joined by challengers Give Back for Special Equestrians (ESPN commentator Tucan Pereya, Miami news anchor Louis Aguirre, and Beach Polo organizer Tito Gaudenzi). Pereya put the ball through the posts with a neat nearside shot, followed by a remarkable out-of-the-air goal from Louis Aguirre. Marlon Humphrey took a successful shot on goal to score – a great way to commemorate his first-ever polo match – but the clock ran out before PTF could score again and Give Back for Special Equestrians won 2-1. The jerseys worn by the players in the Celebrity Cup were to be signed and auctioned raising $23,000 divided among the three charities.
Nic Roldan racing down the sand
In the final match of the day, the Villa Collection Cup, The Villa Collection/GFI (Marc Ganzi, Horacio Heguy, and Nic Roldan) took on Italkraft (Govinda Quish, Juan Martin Zubia, and Pablo Spinacci). Italkraft received two goals on handicap.
MVP Alejandro Novillo Astrada wins a Yacht Charter provided by Yachtlife
The first half of the match was a back-and-forth battle with a fair amount of shooting on goal to no result. Nic Roldan put the only goal on the board during the half, which ended with Italkraft leading 2-1 based on their handicap advantage. Roldan got down to work in the third chukker with a pair of back-to-back goals, while Italkraft continued to be frustrated in their efforts to score. In the final chukker, Govinda put the ball through on a Penalty 3 to tie the match up, but Marc Ganzi took the ball to goal to win the match for The Villa Collection/GFI by 4-3.