Audi and Brookshire Polo picked up two hardfought wins Sunday at windy Grand Champions Polo Club.
By Sharon Robb
Audi (Marc Ganzi, 2, Jeta Castagnola, 9, Barto Castagnola, 9, Paco de Narvaez, 6) was pushed to the limit for the second consecutive game before defeating NetJets (Sugar Erskine, 6, Jason Crowder, 5, Nacho Figueras, 6, Tomacho Pieres, 4), 17-16.
In the featured game, Brookshire Polo (Scott Wood, 0, Rufino Bensadon, 8, Nic Roldan, 8, Pancho Bensadon, 7) led from start to finish to knock off Catamount (Scott Devon, 1, Torito Ruiz, 7, Polito Pieres, 10, Nacho Novillo Astrada, 8), 14-11.
Pancho Bensadon was named Most Valuable Player. Bienvenida, played by Pieres in the third chukker, was Best Playing Pony.
The two-week, nine-team tournament continues Tuesday with a tripleheader. NetJets plays Seminole Casino Coconut Creek on GCPC Field 3 at 10 a.m.; White Birch plays Alegria at Jan Pamela at 12:30 p.m. and Catamount plays Pampa Norte Biotricity at GCPC Field 1 at 3 p.m.
Unlike its opening game, Brookshire Polo was patient from the opening throw-in jumping out to a 6-2 lead in the first chukker. Rufino Bensadon scored two goals and Roldan added one to add to its 3-0 lead on handicap.
After a scoreless second chukker, Catamount found its offense after seven missed goals early in the game to outscore Brookshire Polo, 3-1, but Brookshire Polo maintained a 7-5 halftime lead.
In a fast-paced second half, Catamount tied the game at 7-7 on Devon’s goal with 6:09 left but it was the closest they would come as Brookshire Polo regained its momentum to outscore Catamount, 7-6, in the second half, including all penalty conversions in the sixth chukker.
Rufino Bensadon, with several big passes from Roldan, led Brookshire Polo with a game-high eight goals. Roldan had two and Pancho Bensadon added one goal. The team picked up three goals on handicap.
Torito Ruiz had a team-high seven goals for Catamount. Pieres had two goals and Devon and Novillo Astrada each had one goal.
In the early game, NetJets had upset on their minds clicking on all cylinders in the first half for leads of 5-2, 7-6 and 10-8. The momentum shifted in the second half with Audi outscoring NetJets, 9-6, but NetJets never stopped pressing.
The lead changed hands ten times before Jeta Castagnola scored the winning goal with 56 seconds left in the game. In Audi’s last-minute win over Seminole Casino Coconut Creek, it was also Jeta Castagnola who scored the game-winner with 46 seconds left.
NetJets had two scoring opportunities in the final minute of play. Figueras connected with Pieres close to the goal when Pieres tried to go inside leaned towards the ball, lost his balance and tumbled off his horse. He escaped injury and play continued with a fair play bowl-in. In the final seconds, Crowder connected with Figueras but was defended by de Narvaez.
Barto Castagnola and Ganzi shared scoring honors for Audi each with seven goals. Barto Castagnola added two. The team was also awarded a penalty one.
Pieres led NetJets with six goals and Erskine had four. Crowder and Figueras each had one goal.
In the WPL season-opening 26-goal All-Star Challenge tournament, Audi (Marc Ganzi, 2, Jeta Castagnola, 9, Barto Castagnola, 9, Paco de Narvaez, 6) defeated White Birch (Chris Brant, 0, Lerin Zubiaurre, 7, Mariano Aguerre, 7, Santi Toccalino, 8), 17-12. Jeta Castagnola was MVP.
Seminole Coconut Creek Casino (Melissa Ganzi, 0, Gonzalito Pieres, 10, Juan Martin Zubia, 8, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 8) defeated Brookshire Polo (Scott Wood, 0, Rufino Bensadon, 8, Nic Roldan, 8, Pancho Bensadon, 7), 10-9, to capture the Tommy Hitchcock Legacy Memorial. Pieres was MVP.
Founders Cup defending champion is Richard Mille (Marc Ganzi, Jeta Castagnola, Pablo MacDonough, Paco de Narvaez) which defeated Hawaii Polo Life (Santi Torres, Gringo Colombres, Jejo Taranco, Chris Dawson), 12-6. MacDonough was MVP.
During the 2021 WPL season, Richard Mille qualified for a record four championship finals, winning three of them. In the Palm Beach Open, Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Barto Castagnola, Juan Martin Nero) defeated Richard Mille (Marc Ganzi, Jeta Castagnola, Pablo MacDonough, Paco de Narvaez), 12-9. Barto Castagnola was MVP.
The World Polo League, now in its fourth year and only 26-goal polo played outside of Argentina, has attracted a large international field from around the world.
The world-class league will run through April 16. The World Polo League is preserving the highest level of polo and its rich tradition in the U.S.
The remaining WPL tournaments are the Palm Beach Open; Triple Crown of Polo and Beach Polo World Cup Miami Beach.
The WPL’s new Coco Cabana features polo fare, open bar, rose bar, cigar experience with Montecristo, Worth Avenue retail Pop-Up, Seminole Casino Coconut Creek giveaways and unique photo opportunities. Guests have the opportunity to purchase individual tickets at $250 per person inside the air-conditioned tent or a patio lounge for four guests at $1,000 which includes a bottle of Veuve Clicquot.
Grand Champions has also added Sunset Chukkers and Cocktails, presented by Seminole Casino Coconut Creek held Tuesday late afternoon on Field One for players and guests.
Grand Champions, the nation’s largest polo club, celebrating its 15th anniversary, is coming off its most successful fall season. Club officials hope to build off that success when it hosts 23 tournaments from January through April.
The high goal club tournaments feature the Sterling Cup, $100,000 World Cup and Santa Rita Abierto.
The 16-goal league play includes the Grand Champions Cup, Power Horse Invitational and Pedro Morrison Memorial.
The remaining 12-goal tournaments are the $50,000 National 12-Goal and Top Pony 12-Goal. The 8-goal tournaments left to play are the Top Pony 8-Goal and Limited Edition 8-Goal.
The 6-goal schedule continues with the Halo Polo Trophy and Madelon Bourdieu Memorial.
There is also the Polo School Grand Champions Women’s League, co-founded by Melissa Ganzi and Alina Carta, for all ages and playing ability held Wednesdays at 10 a.m. at Santa Rita Polo Farm.
Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique private 100-acre polo facility in Wellington with 120 stalls in several self-contained barns, exercise track, five climate-controlled tack rooms, vet room, staff quarters, guest house and polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation and stick-and-ball fields.
During fall, winter and spring seasons, Grand Champions Polo Club, the nation’s largest club with 13 well-manicured, world-class fields at GCPC and Santa Rita Polo Farm, hosts polo tournaments ranging from six to 26-goal including the 26-goal World Polo League in addition to special events.
The Polo School, now located at the former Pony Express facility, operates in Wellington January through May and September through November. For more information on the Fall Leagues or Polo School contact Director of Operations Juan Bollini at 561-346-1099 or General Manager Cale Newman at 561-876-2930.
Grand Champions Polo Club caters to men, women and youth polo players at all levels. Its’ expert staff can customize a complete playing experience including horses, pros and certified umpires in addition to lessons and practice sessions as part of its’ Polo On Demand program, the only polo club in the U.S. to offer the unique program.