WELLINGTON, FL., March 28, 2023—Dracarys won its first tournament at Grand Champions Polo Club and it was a big one.
By Sharon Robb
Dracarys (Chetan Krishna, -1/Biljit Sierra, -1, Leon Schwencke, 3, Facundo Obregon, 6, Brandon Phillips, 4) led from start to finish to defeat Rafool Polo (Ray Rafool, -1, Jack Whitman, 2, Henry Porter, 4, Felipe Viana, 6), 12-8, in the championship final of the $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament Sunday at Grand Champions Polo Club.
Schwencke, 17, was named Most Valuable Player. Fifteen-year-old Frozen, owned and played by Ray Rafool, was Best Playing Pony.
The chemistry was obvious among the Dracarys players who have been playing together all winter. The team won the 12-Goal in Port Mayaca in February and are undefeated in nine games.
“We know we have a good game plan,” said Dracarys team manager and veteran player Brandon Phillips. “We did not think we would get out that quickly in the lead by any means. Being able to play on a nice big field like that with all of our horses being prepared and geared for this tournament it really was nice how it all worked out. It was a team win. It was great to be able to do it.”
Dracarys jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the opening chukker and never trailed. Dracarys led 6-2, 8-2, 9-3 and 11-5 before Rafool Polo started clawing its way back with a 3-1 sixth chukker.
“We knew they were a very good team,” Phillips said. “We watched their semifinal. They had a great win against Loudmouth.”
Krishna, owner of Meadow Brook Polo Club in Westbury, N.Y., one of the oldest polo clubs in the U.S., had hoped to play in the final but a back spasm during warm-ups forced him to sit out the game. Baljit Sierra of Novo Polo was at the game ready to help out and replaced him in the lineup.
Krishna started playing polo four years ago. This is the patron’s first season stepping up at this level. Dracarys plans on playing the Limited Edition 12-Goal at Grand Champions to finish up its season. From there the team will head to Meadow Brook to play.
Dracarys led in shots on goal, 18-16; knock-ins, 9-6 and fouls, 10-9. Rafool Polo led in throw-ins, 10-9. Each team scored off three penalties. In the first half, Dracarys led in shots on goal, 11-4.
Obregon led Dracarys in scoring with a game-high six goals. Phillips had three goals, Whitman had two and Sierra added one. Obregon finished with eleven and Phillips eight goals for the tournament. Viana and Porter each had three for Rafool Polo.
The team name Dracarys is from the Game of Thrones and House of Dragon. It is a command the Targaryens use when they wanted their dragons to breathe fire.
The last $50,000 National 12-Goal tournament winner was 2021 champion Parrotheads (Nachi Viana, Roni Duke, Jason Wates, Felipe Viana), 12-8 winners over Beverly Equestrian (Bill Ballhaus, Keko Magrini, Tolito Ocampo, Hilario Figueras). Nachi Viana was MVP. The tournament was not held in 2022.
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 four at Santa Rita.
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, Polo School Ladies Weekly League play and 26-goal WPL tournaments at both Grand Champions and Santa Rita.
Remaining season highlights for the winter season are the John T. Oxley Memorial and $100,000 World Cup Tournament, Great Futures Celebrity Polo, WCT Finals, WPL Polo Pride, Sunset Chukkers & Cocktails and WPL Beach Polo World Cup Miami Beach.
The winter season is being live-streamed locally and worldwide on Wellington-based ChukkerTV (CTV Sports).
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 the Polo School contact Director of Operations Juan Bollini at 561-346-1099 or General Manager Cale Newman at 561-876-2930.