Bendura Bank will face Intocast in the championship final Sunday in the 20th Bendura Bank Snow Polo World Cup.
By Sharon Robb
Bendura Bank (Philip de Groot, 1, Adrian Laplacette, 7, Tito Gaudenzi, 3) advanced into the final with a thrilling 6-4 victory over Mackage (Hugo Baldwin, 1, Hernan Pieres, 4, Oli Hipwood, 6).
First-year sponsor Intocast (Matthias Normann, 1, Micky Duggan, 5, Martin Juaregui, 5) advanced with an impressive 9-4.5 win over World Polo League (Peter Cromm, 0, Agustin Wagner, 4, Patricio Neves, 6). It was the WPL’s first loss of the tournament.
Bentley Berlin (Melissa Ganzi, 0, Alfonso Pieres, 5, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 7) won its first game of the tournament with a 7-4.5 victory over Engel & Volkers (Henrique Schalldach, 2, Marcus Schalldach, 2, Leonardo Rodrigues, 7). Ganzi, the only woman competing in the tournament, scored a hat trick with three goals.
In the other game, Bodvar (Daniel Deistler, 0, Clemente Delfosse, 6, Patrick Maleitzke, 6) defeated Veuve Clicquot (Sebastian Schneeberger, 1, Martijn van Scherpenzeel, 2, Valentin Novillo Astrada, 7), 8-4.5.
Saturday’s games attracted 2,500 fans and 750 fans in the soldout VIP tent.
On Sunday teams will play for four cups. At 10:30 a.m., Engel & Volkers will play Veuve Clicquot for the Bodvar Rose Cup that will determine the seventh and eighth place teams; at 11:45 a.m., the WPL plays Mackage for the the Casablanca Cup for fifth and sixth place at 2 p.m.; followed by Bentley Berlin and Bodvar in the runner-up Kitzbuhel Cup at 1 p.m. and Bendura Bank finals at 2:15 p.m. The awards ceremony will follow at 3:30 p.m.
The event was started in 2003 by Tito Gaudenzi and his father Reto with four teams and 1,000 fans. It has grown into one of the country’s major sporting events, eight teams and attracts more than 15,000 fans over three days including a soldout VIP tent of 750 spectators.
Ganzi, coming off December’s St. Regis Snow Polo World Championship in Aspen, Colo., is the only woman competing in the tournament.
Ganzi is the first woman to win the 2018 Bendura Bank Snow Polo World Cup. She was the first woman to win the 35th Snow Polo World Cup St. Moritz in January, 2019. She was also the first woman to compete in the St. Moritz Snow Polo Tournament in 2016 and first woman to make the final in 2017. She is the first woman to win the St. Regis World Snow Polo Tournament for Flexjet in 2016.
Ganzi will also compete in the Jan. 27-29 St. Moritz event along with her son Grant and Astrada for World Polo League and husband Marc, Nic Roldan and Freddie Mannix for Team Clinique La Prairie.
Jan-Erik Franck, the voice of polo who also announces during the winter season at Grand Champions and Santa Rita Polo Farm, is handling the announcing in Kitzbuhel and St. Moritz in addition to the 26-goal World Polo League that begins in February in Wellington.
During the winter polo season, Grand Champions, the nation’s largest and most innovative USPA-sanctioned polo club, nestled in the heart of the world’s winter equestrian capital, is hosting tournaments: 6, 8, 12, 20, and 26-goal leagues, WCT Finals, women’s weekly league play and 26-goal World Polo League tournaments at both Grand Champions.
Grand Champions tournaments attract a large international field of players from all corners of the world including Argentina, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Canada, Ecuador, Brazil, Switzerland, France, England, Germany, Uruguay, Azerbaijan, South Africa, Venezuela, Chile, and England.
Season highlights for 2023 are the Sterling Cup, $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament, Sieber Memorial, John T. Oxley Memorial and $100,000 World Cup Tournament, a unique 0-40-goal, winner-take-all single-elimination tournament and special events including World Polo League Polo Pride and Sunset Chukkers and Cocktails.
The biggest highlight of the season is the fifth season of the World Polo League, the nation’s only 26-goal league featuring some of the world’s top players and team sponsors at Grand Champions. The WPL has been filling the void created when the U.S. Polo Association, the sport’s governing body, announced it was lowering high goal polo to 18-22 goals and would not have 26-goal polo.
Grand Champions, the nation’s largest polo club celebrating its 16th anniversary, and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique private 102-acre polo facility in Wellington with 212 stalls in nine self-contained barns, two tracks, five climate-controlled tack rooms, vet room, staff quarters, guest house and four polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation and short work arena. The club has 13 well-manicured fields including nine world-class fields at GCPC and Santa Rita Polo Farm.
The winter season will be live-streamed locally and worldwide on Wellington-based ChukkerTV (CTV).
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 Polo School, now located at the former Pony Express facility, operates in Wellington January through May and September through November. The stand-alone USPA-sanctioned polo club, is thriving. It is dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grass roots youth. Its mission is to provide individuals opportunities in polo at every economic and ability level. November. The Polo School has nurtured several junior, men and women polo players now playing in the pro and amateur ranks since its inception.
For more information on leagues or Polo School contact Director of Operations Juan Bollini at 561-346-1099 or Cale Newman at 561-876-2930.