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Grand Champions Upsets Valiente In Overtime Thriller To Capture Founders Cup; Juan Martin Nero Tournament MVP; Rodrigo Andrade Tato's Game MVP

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Grand Champions Upsets Valiente In Overtime Thriller To Capture Founders Cup; Juan Martin Nero Tournament MVP; Rodrigo Andrade Tato's Game MVP
WELLINGTON, Fl., March 4, 2019---In one of polo's biggest upsets, Grand Champions knocked off Valiente, 12-11, in overtime to win the World Polo League Founders Cup Sunday at Valiente Polo Farm.

Founders Cup winners Grand Champions, Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Rodrigo Andrade and Juan Martin Nero.

In front of an overflow crowd, Argentine 10-goaler Juan Martin Nero scored the winning goal in the first two minutes of overtime to upset previously unbeaten Valiente (Bob Jornayvaz, 2, Agustin Nero, 6, Santi Torres, 6, Adolfo Cambiaso, 10). 

Juancito Bollini of Grand Champions leans into his shot with defender Agustin Nero of Valiente on his hip.

Playing together for the first time in the WPL's second tournament of the season, Grand Champions finished the eight-team, 26-goal tournament undefeated at 4-0. 

Agustin Nero of Valiente and Juan Martin Nero of Grand Champions stride for stride.

Nero and teammates Rodrigo Andrade, 9, Grant Ganzi, 3, and Juancito Bollini, 4, earned $60,000 in prize money.

"I don't know what happened, they say that we won," joked Nero, named the Tournament Most Valuable Player. Nero also earned the Catena Watch Play of the Day for his game-winner. Andrade was selected Tato's Game MVP.

Adolfo Cambiaso of Valiente hits downfield defended by Grant Ganzi and Juancito Bollini of Grand Champions.

"I saw Grant was with Adolfito, I was open and went for it," Nero said. "I said to myself 'I can't miss this goal.' I was completely alone. I was lucky to get it.

"This is huge for us," Nero said. "This is the first tournament we played together and we won. The game was really, good, it was open. We had a lot of fun."

Grant Ganzi of Grand Champions on his way to scoring in the fourth chukker.

The stunning victory marked a successful 26-goal final debut of longtime friends and teammates Grant Ganzi, 20, and Juancito Bollini, 22.

"I am at a loss for words, I can't describe it, this is insane," Ganzi said. "This is a huge upset. The last time Adolfo lost at this level other than last year's U.S. Open final was a long time ago. It's tough to beat these guys. Congrats to them, they have been playing unbelievable polo.

Juan Martin Nero of Grand Champions chases down Agustin Nero of Valiente.

"This is huge for the club, huge for the team, just a huge, huge win," Ganzi said. "This is my No. 1 win, for sure. At this level against the best in the world and taking Adolfo out on the last play, you can't top that."

Valiente opened with a 3-0 lead on handicap and extended it to 5-0 early in the first chukker. With Valiente leading, 7-3, Grand Champions clawed its way back scoring five unanswered goals in the third and fourth chukkers to take an 8-7 lead on Ganzi's goal run. The game was tied four times before Nero's heroics.

Agustin Nero of Valiente gets ready to hit the ball with Grant Ganzi of Grand Champions defending.

"We just had a determined mentality," Ganzi said. "We never gave up. We just kept going harder and harder at every play. We knew this team could come back. Against Scone, we were losing the whole game, too. It's been an uncommon pattern for us.

"We have had to give goals to teams at the beginning and it's been tough," Ganzi said. "We have been able to get ourselves out of it."

Adolfo Cambiaso of Valiente works the ball on the bounce with Juancito Bollini of Grand Champions defending.

Catena USA CEO Bill Kraft presents Tournament MVP Juan Martin Nero with a Catena watch for Play of the Day.

Nero finished with a game-high seven goals, including four on penalty conversions. Andrade had
four and Ganzi added one. Torres led Valiente with five goals, Cambiaso had two and Agustin Nero added one.

"I was super nervous before the game," Ganzi said. "It was probably the most nervous I have ever been before a game."
The Grand Champions Best Playing Pony of the Game was Dolfina Miami played and owned by Cambiaso in the fourth chukker.

The American Polo Horse Association Best Playing Pony of the final was Mermelada played by Agustin Nero in the sixth chukker and owned by J5 Equestrian.

The American Polo Horse Association best horse of the tournament was JM Muneca played by Juan Martin Nero in the second and sixth chukkers.
The American Polo Horse Association was created in 2006 by the legendary Polo Hall of Famer Sunny Hale to recognize polo ponies in America and encourages events that showcase them and hard-working dedication of grooms.
Grand Champions Best Playing Pony of the Game, Dolfina Miami.

Valiente, overtime winners of the season-opening All-Star Challenge Draw Tournament with Nero, Torres, Pablo MacDonough and Poroto Cambiaso, was the heavy favorite and looking for its second title. 

American Polo Horse Association Best Playing Pony of the final, Mermelada.

In the tournament semifinals, Grand Champions defeated Scone, 12-9, on Tuesday. Valiente defeated Colorado, 10-7, on Friday.

American Polo Horse Association Best Playing Pony of the Tournament, JM Muneca.

Also on Sunday, Scone (David Paradise, 0, Guillermo Terrera, 8, Alejandro Taranco, 8, Pelon Stirling, 10) won the subsidiary Powerhorse Cup and $40,000 in prize money with a 15-12 victory over Colorado (Rob Jornayvaz, 2, Juan Martin Zubia, 7, Diego Cavanagh, 9, Jero del Carril, 7).

Stirling scored a game-high eight goals and was Most Valuable Player. Liberata, played by Stirling, was Grand Champions Polo Club Best Playing Pony. Jordib, played by Rob Jornayvaz and owned by J5 Equestrian, was the American Polo Horse Association Best Playing Pony.

Grand Champions teammates show off their winning prize money check of $60,000, 
with awards presenter Josh Cohen of ESPN West Palm

In addition to Stirling's eight goals, Taranco added four goals, Terrera had two and Paradise had one. For Colorado, Zubia and Cavanagh each had three goals. Jornayvaz and Del Carril had two goals apiece. 

Colorado started out with a 2-0 lead on handicap. The game was close in the first half. After a 4-4 opening chukker, Scone outscored Colorado, 3-2, in the second chukker for a 7-6 advantage and Scone tied Colorado 2-2 in the third chukker with the
half tied at 9-9.

Melissa Ganzi smiles as Adolfo Cambiaso hugs Juancito Bollini and Marc Ganzi hugs their son Grant.

Scone kicked it up a gear in the second half, outscoring Colorado, 6-4, including a 3-0 fifth chukker to clinch the first 26-goal subsidiary title for Aussie team sponsor David Paradise in his 26-goal playing debut.

"This was great, they are really nice guys and I loved it," Paradise said. "It was fast, open polo. I would love to come back. It was really good polo. It was fun. It was really organized with a lot of good players, lot of good horses and a lot of nice people. I hope to come back.

World Polo League awards table for the Founders Cup final.

"These guys are so much on the ball, the other side couldn't afford to have any mistakes because they were on top of it straightaway," Paradise said. 

Added Stirling, "We played well. It was a very difficult team, they have been having a great season. Luckily we managed to get the two goals back quickly. We played very well in the second half. 

Powerhorse Cup winner Scone players Pelon Stirling, Alejandro Taranco, Guillermo Terrera and David Paradise with awards presenter and WPL co-founder Bob Jornayvaz.
Photo by Paddy Ramirez

"Hopefully, David had a good experience, we really enjoyed playing with him," Stirling said. "He's a lot of fun around us, he is like one of us so we can joke with him and he can joke with us so that makes it much more fun. It's been great for him to play this kind level of polo which he thought he was unable to and I think he is up for it. Hopefully, we will get him back next year."

The WPL is being live streamed on ESPN Deportes and ChukkerTV/Horseplay with Gus Whitelaw calling the action. For more information go to www.worldpolo.org.

Pelon Stirling of Scone steadies his reins as Diego Cavanagh of Colorado tries to get upright.

Co-founded by Grand Champions owners Melissa and Marc Ganzi and Valiente Polo Farm owner Bob Jornayvaz, the World Polo League is the only 26-goal polo in the world outside of Argentina. The WPL is preserving the highest level of polo and its rich, hallowed tradition in the U.S. 

The WPL has its own set of simpler fan-friendly rules to improve the flow and action of the game.

The WPL, with 14 tournament-quality fields to play on, includes the Feb. 19-March 3 Founders Cup, March 6-24 Palm Beach Open which gets under way on Wednesday with two games including the debut of SD Farms, and March 27-April 14 Triple Crown of Polo.

Colorado's Juan Martin Zubia hooks Pelon Stirling of Scone with help from teammate Jero del Carril.

The World Polo League is open to other teams that wish to compete in one or more of the tournaments. Games are offered on the flat (Open) and on Handicap.

The World Polo League has attracted a large international field of players from all corners of the world  including Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Nigeria, Uruguay and U.S.

Rob Jornayvaz of Colorado works the ball out of the air with David Paradise of Scone defending.

Grand Champions and Valiente are also launching the U.S. National Mixed Doubles Championship, featuring two men and two women with combined handicaps, in March.

In addition to the World Polo League, season highlights for 2019 at
Grand Champions are the Sterling Cup, March 1-31 $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament, March 1-16 John T. Oxley Memorial and March 3-24 $100,000 World Cup Tournament, a unique 0-40-goal, winner-take-all single-elimination tournament.

Alejandro Taranco of Scone follows up his shot with Diego Cavanagh of Colorado defending.
Photos by Ramon Casares

Grand Champions and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique polo facility in Wellington with 120 stalls in five self-contained barns, exercise track, five climate-controlled tack rooms, vet room, staff quarters, guest house and three polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation including one field for stick-and-ball with plans to build more polo fields in the future.

March 6-24, Palm Beach Open
March 27-April 14, Triple Crown of Polo

Wednesday, March 6:
11 a.m. SD Farms vs. Black Watch
4 p.m. Grand Champions vs. Alegria

Thursday, March 7:
11 a.m. Flexjet vs. Colorado
4 p.m. Audi vs. Valiente

Saturday, March 9:
11 a.m. Audi vs. Flexjet
4 p.m. Grand Champions vs. Black Watch

Sunday, March 10:
11 a.m. Valiente vs. Colorado
4 p.m. SD Farms vs. Alegria

Wednesday, March 13:
11 a.m. Grand Champions vs Flexjet
p.m.SD Farms vs Valiente

Thursday, March 14:
11 a.m. Colorado vs. Alegria
4 p.m. Audi vs. Black Watch

Saturday, March 16:
11 a.m. SD Farms vs. Flexjet
4 p.m. Grand Champions vs. Valiente

Sunday, March 17:
11 a.m. Colorado vs. Black Watch
4 p.m. Audi vs. Alegria

Wednesday, March 20:
TBD Subsidiary semifinals

Thursday, March 21:
TBD Palm Beach Open semifinals

Saturday, March 23:
TBD Subsidiary Final

Sunday, March 24:
TBD Palm Beach Open Final, GCPC Field 2

Games at Grand Champions Polo Club, Valiente Polo Farm and other local fields.

Chukker TV is live streaming the entire World Polo League season with film material content provided by Polo Channel. ChukkerTV, featuring cutting-edge technology, was the first to introduce state-of-the-art live streaming technology and instant replay in January, 2014 at Grand Champions Polo Club. For advertising opportunities please contact Mike Ferreira at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Rob Jornayvaz at Polo Channel at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Jan-Eric Franck
"The Voice of Polo"
ESPN West Palm (106.3FM) and ESPN Deportes (760AM) signed an exclusive contract with the World Polo League and will target the West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami markets with various broadcasts, commercials and exposure on radio, ESPN.com, ESPN app and social media platforms to promote the exciting new 26-goal league. With nearly two decades of sustained success in sports and entertainment broadcasting, Josh Cohen is among the most influential, respected and popular on-air personalities and live event hosts in South Florida. Julian Zaldivar has been a part of ESPN West Palm team and ESPN Deportes760AM manager since its inception. He is the host of Comunidad ESPN Monday through Friday that features all-sports talk and interviews with the Latino community leaders from the local Hispanic market.

Josh Cohen
Julian Zaldivar


WHERE: 13444 Southfields Road, on the corner of South Shore Boulevard and Lake Worth Road, Wellington, 33414.

DIRECTOR OF POLO: Juan Olivera, 561-644-5050, juan.olivera @gcpolo.com; hotline  561-644-5050.

INFORMATION: For spectators, there are great field side views for tournament action and also the Grand Champions Polo Club Boutique. The club is home base for pro teams Audi and Flexjet. Everyone is welcome to watch every level of polo in a relaxed atmosphere with food and refreshments during the featured games of the winter, spring and fall tournament seasons and other special events. Admission is free except for some special events.

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Grand Champions Polo Club, 13444 Southfields Road, Wellington, FL 33414
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