Seminole Casino Coconut Creek Captures Sterling Cup; Juan Martin Zubia Named MVP

Seminole Casino Coconut Creek captured its first Sterling Cup Saturday at Grand Champions Polo Club.

By Sharon Robb

Seminole Casino Coconut Creek (Melissa Ganzi, 0, Gonzalito Pieres, 10, Juan Martin Zubia, 8, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 7) defeated Casablanca (Pablo Spinacci, 6, Tomacho Pieres, 6, Nacho Novillo Astrada, 8, Juan Bollini, 4), 16-12.

Juan Martin Zubia was named Most Valuable Player and after being presented with a set of keys by the Easter Bunny drove off with a new Jeep Renegade for his playing efforts.

Casablanca started off with a 1-0 lead based on handicap. Astrada matched it quickly with a goal after winning the throw-in.

Working well together, Seminole Casino Coconut Creek led 5-2 after the opening chukker, 8-3 at the end of the second chukker and 9-5 at halftime.

Seminole Casino Coconut Creek never trailed in the second half despite Casablanca closing the gap to 10-7 and 11-8 in the fourth chukker.

In the final two chukkers, Seminole Casino Coconut Creek maintained at least a three-goal lead.

Melissa Ganzi scored a game-high eight goals and was awarded a penalty-one. Zubia had three goals. Pieres and Astrada each had two goals. Astrada led Casablanca with five goals and Spinacci added four.

The Sterling Cup was resurrected six years ago after a 22-year absence. It was brought back by Grand Champions President Melissa Ganzi in hopes of recapturing polo’s glory days.

It was the second tournament of the 22-goal season at the old Palm Beach Polo and Country Club after the January Challenge Cup and last played in 1995. It was considered the 22-goal championship and attracted as many as 18 teams including Saniva B.G.K., Pegasus, C.S. Brook, Grant’s Farm Manor, Revlon, Calumet Farm, Pony Express, Isla Carroll, White Birch and Catamount.

In last year’s final, Scone held off La Indiana, 14-13, to capture the prestigious trophy. Father and son Adolfo and Poroto Cambiaso, Peke Gonzalez and Australian patron David Paradice came from behind to defeat La Indiana (Nico Escobar, Jeff Hall, Polito Pieres, Milo Dorignac) in a battle of unbeaten teams.

Grand Champions, the nation’s largest and busiest polo club celebrating its 15th anniversary, is coming off successful fall and winter seasons. The club will begin its spring season on Friday with the Eastern Challenge.

Grand Champions is host to the World Polo League, which completed its five-tournament grass schedule on Saturday. It is the only 26-goal polo played outside of Argentina and attracted a large international field from around the world. The WPL Beach Polo World Cup is set for April 29-May 1 and WPL Polo Pride, May 27-29.

Grand Champions also hosts Sunset Chukkers and Cocktails, presented by Seminole Casino Coconut Creek held Tuesday late afternoon at 4:45 p.m. on Field One for players and guests.

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 18 well-manicured fields including 13 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.



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