WPL’s Triple Crown Of Polo Semifinals Begin Wednesday; Dazos/La Fe Takes On Defending Champion Pampa Norte Biotricity

The countdown begins to the much-anticipated championship final of the Triple Crown of Polo at Grand Champions Polo Club.

By Sharon Robb

The semifinals of the crown jewel and fourth tournament of the World Polo League, get under way Wednesday with defending champion Pampa Norte Biotricity taking on Dazos/La Fe at 4 p.m. On Thursday at 11 a.m., Audi will play Globalport.

The two-week, eight-team tournament comes to an end on Sunday with the championship final at 4 p.m.

The last team to qualify for the semifinals was Globalport (Mikee Romero, 0, Pablo Polito, 10, Sapo Caset, 10, Facundo Obregon, 6) in Sunday’s feature game. The Phillipines-based team eliminated Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, 3, Tomacho Pieres, 6, Barto Castagnola, 10, Jesse Bray), 10-7. Casablanca, the only team to win two WPL titles this season, had won the All-Star Challenge and Palm Beach Open.

Global Port jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the opening chukker and kept its composure throughout the game. After a 5-2 second chukker, Casablanca dug itself out of a hole with a 3-1 third chukker to trail by only one, 6-5, at the half.

Casablanca kept fighting back tying the game twice but could not find its offensive punch when needed the most. Globalport pulled away with 3:33 left with its biggest lead of the game, 10-7. Casablanca had scoring opportunities but could not capitalize. Polito Pieres then worked the clock until the end of the game.

Caset scored a game-high six goals to lead Globalport. Polito Pieres had three and Obregon added one. Castagnola was held to three goals. Tomacho Pieres and Bray each had two.

Globalport outshot Casablanca, 17-14. The team were even on knock-ins, 7-7. Casablanca had a slight edge on throw-ins, 10-9. Casablanca had five fouls and Globalport had a tournament-low three fouls. Globalport was able to convert two 30-yard penalties.
It was a good day for Facundo Obregon, fully recovered from a broken leg sustained in Argentina. He was competing in his second tournament of the day. Earlier in the morning, Obregon and his Dracarys Polo Team won its third 12-goal tournament, the Top Pony 12-Goal, to cap a successful winter season.

The WPL teams have been competing for the magnificent Tiffany & Co-designed trophy. The Triple Crown of Polo 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.

Last year’s final was one of the biggest upsets of the WPL season with Pampa Norte/Biotricity knocking off defending champion Richard Mille. Pampa Norte/Biotricity (Waqaas Al-Siddiq, 0, Pipe Vercellino, 7, Inaki Laprida, 7, Martin Jauregui, 6), making its 26-goal finals debut, defeated Richard Mille (Santos Bollini, 2, Grant Ganzi, 3, Pablo MacDonough, 10, Juan Martin Nero, 10), 14-13. Vercellino, 27, of Chile was MVP. He led his team’s scoring with four goals, three on penalty conversions including two 60-yarders. Nero scored a game-high eight goals for Richard Mille.

The first three 2023 WPL tournaments during the league’s fifth season have thrilled fans, worldwide livestream viewing audiences and sponsors on world-class fields. The WPL has already crowned three champions.

Casablanca won the season-opening All-Star Challenge. Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, 3, Tomacho Pieres, 6, Barto Castagnola, 10, Jesse Bray, 7) defeated 2021 champion Richard Mille (Gilberto Sayao, 0, Gonzalito Pieres, 9, Pablo MacDonough, 10, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 7), 14-9. Barto Castagnola was MVP.

Audi (Marc Ganzi, 1, Jeta Castagnola, 10, Nic Roldan, 8, Freddie Mannix, 7) defended its title and finished undefeated (5-0) in the Founders Cup with a thrilling 14-13 overtime victory over Richard Mille (Patricio Mayor, 0, Gonzalito Pieres, 9, Lucas James, 7, Pablo MacDonough, 10). Jeta Castagnola was MVP.

Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, 3, Tomacho Pieres, 6, Barto Castagnola, 10, Jesse Bray, 7) also won the Palm Beach Open with a 14-13 victory over Dead End (Evan White, Jr., 1, Pedro Falabella, 7, Magoo Laprida, 8/Gringo Colombres, 7, Facu Llosa, 7). Castagnola was MVP.

The remaining WPL event is the April 20-23 Beach Polo World Cup Miami Beach.

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 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, The Polo School Women’s Weekly league play and 26-goal WPL tournaments at both Grand Champions and Santa Rita.

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 Polo School contact Director of Operations Juan Bollini at  561-346-1099 or General Manager Cale Newman at 561-876-2930.

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