Newport, Palm Beach Equine Meet Sunday In Santa Rita Abierto Final At Grand Champions

The scene is set for the championship final of the Santa Rita Abierto Sunday at Grand Champions Polo Club.

By Sharon Robb

Photos by Candace Ferreira

Newport and Palm Beach Equine, past winners of several tournments in the club’s 17-year history, will meet in the final at 10 a.m.

Newport (Gene Goldstein, 0, Pablo Spinacci, 6, Fred Mannix, 7, Tommy Collingwood, 5) held off Maltese Falcons (Melissa Ganzi, 0, Leo Mandelbaum, 2, Sugar Erskine, 6, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 7) for a 9-8 victory.

Palm Beach Equine (Grant Ganzi, 3, Jason Crowder, 5, Nic Roldan, 8, Scott Swerdlin, 0) rallied in the second half to defeat Audi (Tomacho Pieres, 6, Marc Ganzi, 1, Lorenzo Chavanne, 6T, Santos Bollini, 2), 10-7.

Audi and Maltese Falcons will play in the subsidiary Just For The Fun Of It Cup at 11:30 a.m.

The second of five tournaments in the spring season features six teams in the Santa Rita Abierto and Santa Rita Handicap.

In the morning opener, the game was close with six lead changes. Maltese Falcons jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the opening chukker behind the first of five Melissa Ganzi goals. Maltese Falcons tied Newport twice, 2-2 in the second chukker and 6-6 in the fourth but could get no closer.

Newport, making its spring debut, had two-goal leads in the second, third, fifth and sixth chukker before Astrada scored from 130 yards out with 33 seconds remaining in the game. Newport led 6-4 at the half.

Goldstein and Mannix shared leading scorer honors, each with four goals. Collingwood added one. Ganzi led Maltese Falcons with five goals. Astrada had two goals, including a safety-60 in the third chukker. Mandelbaum added one goal.

After missing scoring opportunities and trailing 4-3 at the half, Palm Beach Equine rallied in the second half to out score Audi, 7-3, behind an explosive attack that led to balanced scoring.

With Audi leading by two goals twice in the fifth chukker, 6-4 and 7-5, Palm Beach Equine started its rally with four minutes left in the fifth chukker when Roldan won the throw-in and scored from 60 yards out to cut Audi’s lead to one, 7-6.

Palm Beach Equine then scored four unanswered goals behind Crowder, Ganzi and Roldan and it was game over. Crowder stole the ball out of the air that led to his goal for a 9-7 lead. Ganzi scored a goal through a crowd for a 10-7 lead.

Ganzi and Crowder each scored four goals and Roldan had two for Palm Beach Equine. Bollini scored a game-high five goals for Audi. Ganzi and Chavanne each had one goal.

In the Santa Rita Handicap, Santa Rita (Rebecca Cohen, -1, Benji Daniels, 2, Sugar Erskine, 6, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 7) leads Grand Champions (Joelle Wyser Pratte, -1, Tucu Paz, 2, Tomacho Pieres, 6, Pablo Spinacci, 6), 6-5, after the first four chukkers of their match.

Pratte scored a game-high five goals. Cohen had a team-high four goals. Daniels and Astrada each had one. The scores will carry over into Sunday’s final at 1 p.m.

In last year’s Santa Rita Abierto, with 16 seconds left and the game tied 9-9, Travieso (Teo Calle, 0, Tony Calle, 3, Tomacho Pieres, 6, Jason Crowder, 5) converted a 30-yard penalty to defeat Casablanca (Alex Webb, 2, Grant Ganzi, 3, Nic Roldan, 8, Juan Bollini, 3), 10-9. Crowder was MVP.

During the spring season, amateur polo players get the chance to play with and against some of the world’s top professional polo players. It is geared towards improving polo skills and having fun.

The spring league is also a great opportunity for younger players to develop and hone their skills against their peers and more experienced players.

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