On a rare occasion in high goal polo, it wasn’t about the wins and losses Friday at windswept Grand Champions Polo Club.
By Sharon Robb
It was about the polo community coming together to support Clemente “Corchito” Zavaleta and his family in the inaugural Zavaleta Perpetual Cup.
Some of the world’s top players competed in a four chukker, 38-goal game to benefit the recovery fund for Zavaleta.
The lineups featured five current 10 goalers including Hilario Ulloa, Juan Martin Nero, Facundo Pieres, Pablo MacDonough and Gonzalito Pieres and pending 10-goaler Barto Castagnola, who will be raised to 10 goals on December 1.
Park Place (Juan Britos, 9, Hilario Ulloa 10, Barto Castagnola 9, Juan Martin Nero, 10) defeated Pilot (Facundo Pieres, 10, Gonzalito Pieres, 10, Magoo Laprida, 8, Pablo MacDonough, 10), 4-2, in an emotionally-charged game.
Ulloa, who scored three goals, was named Most Valuable Player. Dalma, owned and played by Facundo Pieres, was Best Playing Pony. Henry Zavaleta presented the awards and embraced every player during the post-game ceremony.
The game was played in honor of the Argentine 7-goaler who suffered a serious accident while playing for Alegria in the World Polo League. The 36-year-old underwent two surgeries and remains in the hospital in stable condition.
“Messages and support from the polo community all around the world have been overwhelming,”said Facundo Pieres, a close longtime childhood friend of Corchito. “I was talking with Magoo Laprida and Hillario Ulloa, who are both quite close to Corchito, and we wanted to create an event to bring people together to show our support for his recovery.
“We asked the Ganzi family if Grand Champions would give us a place to play a match in his honor and they accepted without hesitation. I think the event was especially nice for his wife Isabella and the daughters as we celebrated our good friend and helped raise funds for his full recovery.”
With two 38-goal rated teams competing, it was the highest goal game ever held at Grand Champions in the club’s 15-year history. The game was live streamed worldwide by ChukkerTV and can be found on its website.
“Melissa and I were honored to host this important event in order to help the Zavaleta family in these challenging times,” said Marc Ganzi, co-owner of Grand Champions Polo Club. “It is moments like this when the polo community shines and steps up for our own, we view the polo community as one big family – and this is what families do for each other – we support each other in times of need.
“I want to give special praise and thanks to Curtis Pilot and Andrey Borodin, who graciously gave their support to this event by helping put two teams on the field and lead with us in raising of critical funds for Corchito’s recovery.”
A GoFundMe account, organized by Grand Champions Polo Club, has been established to raise funds for his medical bills and recovery. The goal amount is $800,000. Full details and website are listed below.