WELLINGTON, April 13, 2022—The stage is set for the championship final of the World Polo League’s Triple Crown of Polo Saturday at 4 p.m. at Grand Champions Polo Club.
By Sharon Robb
Pampa Norte Biotricity, making its finals debut, will take on defending champion Richard Mille for the coveted trophy.
Pampa Norte Biotricity (Waqaas Al-Siddiq, 0, Inaki Laprida, 7, Pipe Vercellino, 7, Martin Jauregui, 6) advanced with a thrilling 14-13 win over Palm Beach Open champion Catamount (Scott Devon, 1, Toro Ruiz, 7, Poroto Cambiaso, 9, Nacho Novillo Astrada, 8).
Richard Mille (Grant Ganzi, 3, Pacquito de Narvaez, 2, Pablo MacDonough, 10, Juan Martin Nero, 10) advanced with a come-from-behind 14-11 win over Brookshire Polo (Scott Wood, 1, Pancho Bensadon, 7, Nic Roldan, 8, Jason Crowder, 5) in the other semifinal.
It is the fifth and final grass tournament of the World Polo League, now in its fourth year. The final WPL event is the April 29-May 1 WPL Beach Polo World Cup in Miami Beach.
To kick off Saturday’s festivities, a Work To Ride fundraiser game will be held at 2 p.m. featuring one pro playing with three Work To Ride players in a four chukker game.
Work To Ride is a non-profit organization that provides horsemanship education and equine sports training to low-income youth, ages 7 to 18, from under-resourced communities in the dense urban areas of Philadelphia. It is one of a handful of programs throughout the nation that use equine sports to improve the life prospects and outcomes of urban youth.
It has produced talented polo players, including alumnus and board member Kareem Rosser, that have gone on to receive scholarships to prestigious colleges for their athletic abilities. Rosser earned a scholarship to Valley Forge Military Academy and later went on to play at Colorado State. Rosser was also the 2015 Polo Training Foundation Male Intercollegiate Polo Player of the Year. He recently published a memoir, Crossing the Line: A Fearless Team of Brothers and the Sport that Changed Their Lives Forever.
Rosser will speak during Saturday’s event. Kiosks will be placed around the stadium for donations.
Work To Ride is in the midst of raising capital funds to renovate Philadelphia’s Chamounix Equestrian Center at Fairmount Park and create a new indoor equestrian arena. The new arena will enable Work To Ride to increase its’ youth participation, expand programming year-round, build co-operative partnerships with local institutions and host local, regional and national polo matches.
Grand Champions Polo Club president and owner Melissa Ganzi, who grew up in Philadelphia and graduated from University of Pennsylvania, and Dundas patron Sarah Siegel-Magness are co-chairing the committee to raise money.
In the Triple Crown of Polo semifinals, 20-goal Pampa Norte Biotricity built off its 5-0 handicap advantage to lead early in the game. Catamount reeled them in to tie 8-8 at the half and 12-12 after the fifth but Pampa Norte Biotricity took advantage of Catamount penalties and missed scoring opportunities for its biggest win of the 26-goal season.
“I think we did great,” Al-Siddiq said. “We were able to control the game and rotate which allowed us to release the ball and run. We were very aggressive with the man.
“The final is going to be very tough. You are talking about 26 goals obviously. Every game for us is about playing our game, enjoying our team and having fun. That carried us to the finals so we’ll take that same strategy and focus on having fun.”
Laprida led scoring with five goals. Vercellino, enjoying his best season in Wellington, had four goals, all on penalty conversions.
In an open, flowing game, Richard Mille rallied in the second half to overtake early leader Brookshire Polo. Brookshire led 5-2, 7-6 and 10-7 in the first half. Richard Mille started hitting the shots they were missing in the first half and pulled ahead of Brookshire when de Narvaez lofted the ball between the goal posts for an 11-10 lead. Richard Mille never trailed after that.
MacDonough scored a game-high eight goals and was selected Most Valuable Player in the April 10th Sunday feature game. Nero’s horse Matsu was the American Polo Horse Association Best Playing Pony. MacDonough’s Irenita Mascara was WPL Best Playing Pony.
Richard Mille and Pampa Norte Biotricity will be playing for the Triple Crown of Polo magnificent trophy designed by Tiffany & Co. The trophy is comprised of three separate trophies that fit perfectly together to create an entire polo scene that is breathtaking in sterling silver.
The WPL tournament winners will be inscribed on the trophy and added to an impressive list of teams that feature several top players including Sebastian Merlos, Mike Azzaro, Tommy Biddle, Adam Snow, Nic Roldan, Matias Magrini, Jeff Hall, Mariano Gonzalez, Michel Dorignac and Kris Kampsen.
The spectacular trophy was created for the ESPN2 television Triple Crown of Polo series created in 2005 with stops at Sarasota Polo Club, Las Colinas Polo Club in Dallas and Santa Barbara Polo Club the first year in 2006 and Sarasota and New Bridge Polo and Country Club in Aiken, S.C. in 2007 during its heyday before it went on hiatus.
The first four WPL tournaments during the league’s fourth season have thrilled fans, worldwide livestream viewing audiences and sponsors on world-class fields at Grand Champions, Santa Rita Polo Farm and Jan Pamela.
Last year’s Triple Crown of Polo winner, Richard Mille (Marc Ganzi, Jeta Castagnola, Pablo MacDonough and Paco de Narvaez) defeated Tamera (Ale Poma, Santi Torres, Diego Cavanagh, Jejo Taranco), 11-10, for their third title of the WPL season. MacDonough was MVP.
In the 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.
In the Founders Cup, Audi (Marc Ganzi, 2, Jeta Castagnola, 9, Barto Castagnola, 9, Paco de Narvaez, 6) defeated Seminole Casino Coconut Creek (Melissa Ganzi, 0, Gonzalito Pieres, 10, Juan Martin Zubia, 8, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 8), 13-9. De Narvaez was MVP.
In the Palm Beach Open, Catamount (Scott Devon, 1, Toro Ruiz, 7, Polito Pieres, 10, Nacho Novillo Astrada, 8)knocked off Richard Mille (Santos Bollini, 2, Grant Ganzi, 3, Pablo MacDonough, 10, Juan Martin Nero, 10), 9-7. Pieres was MVP.
During the 2021 WPL season, Richard Mille qualified for a record four championship finals, winning three of them.
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 Polo League has preserved the highest level of polo and its rich tradition in the U.S.
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 also hosts Sunset Chukkers and Cocktails, presented by Seminole Casino Coconut Creek held Tuesday late afternoon on Field One for players and guests at 4:45 p.m.
Grand Champions, the nation’s largest polo club, celebrating its 15th anniversary, is coming off its most successful fall season. The club is hosting various levels of polo.
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 and ultimate polo destination with 18 well-manicured polo fields including 13 world-class tournament grade, 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 Juan Bollini at 561-346-1099 or 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.