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Grand Champions, Audi Win In Triple Crown Of Polo Openers; Juan Martin Nero MVP; WPL Action Resumes Wednesday With Two Games

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Grand Champions, Audi Win In Triple Crown Of Polo Openers; Juan Martin Nero MVP; WPL Action Resumes Wednesday With Two Games
WELLINGTON, Fl., April 1, 2019----Grand Champions, seeking its second tournament title in the inaugural World Polo League, won its Triple Crown of Polo opener Sunday at Grand Champions Polo Club.

Grand Champions winning teammates Juan Martin Nero, Rodrigo Andrade, Juancito Bollini and Grant Ganzi with awards presenter Bettina Bahlsen.

By Sharon Robb
In a hardfought battle, Grand Champions (Grant Ganzi, 3, Juancito Bollini, 4, Rodrigo Andrade, 9, Juan Martin Nero, 10) held on for a thrilling 9-8 victory over WPL (Poroto Cambiaso, 3, Guillermo Terrera, 8, Agustin Nero, 6, Diego Cavanagh, 9), making its league debut.

Agustin Nero of WPL and Juancito Bollini of Grand Champions race for the ball.

"That was a very tough team and we had to be a four-man team to beat them," Nero said. "We played really well today. It's always important to win the first game in a tournament like this with so many good teams.

Juancito Bollini of Grand Champions defends Poroto Cambiaso of WPL.

"Grant and Juancito played really well and did a really good job in the front," Nero said. "Ro was amazing. We were happy that we win and now we have Audi in the second game."

Grand Champions teammates Grant Ganzi and Juancito Bollini close in on Diego Cavanagh of WPL.

Nero scored a team-high six goals including three penalty conversions and was named Most Valuable Player.

Ganzi had two goals and Andrade added one. For WPL, Diego Cavanagh led scoring with a team-high six goals. Agustin Nero and Terrara each had one goal.

Grant Ganzi of Grand Champions leans into his shot with Agustin Nero of WPL defending.

After a scoreless opening chukker, Grand Champions, winners of the Founders Cup, were quicker to the ball and controlled most of the game. Grand Champions led by as many as three goals in the fourth (7-4) and fifth (8-5) chukkers.

It's a horse race between Juan Martin Nero of Grand Champions and Diego Cavanagh of WPL.

"I think this was probably our most important game of the bracket," Bollini said. "We're all happy to be done with it. When I saw their roster, I knew we would be running a lot. They are very good. I'm very, very happy to win our first game. They don't miss a ball and they have fast horses."

Rodrigo Andrade of Grand Champions hits the ball out of the air with Agustin Nero of WPL defending.

WPL featured 13-year-old Poroto Cambiaso, son of polo great Adolfo Cambiaso, coming off 16 and 12-goal tournament wins this past week.

Poroto Cambiaso of WPL stride for stride with Rodrigo Andrade of Grand Champions.

"This was a really big win, we needed it," Ganzi said. "We needed to come out strong. We had to play disciplined. That was an intense game. I love this team and I feel we are getting better with every game."

Grand Champions Best Playing Pony Spider, played by Poroto Cambiaso.

The Grand Champions Best Playing Pony was Spider, played by Cambiaso.

The American Polo Horse Association Best Playing Pony was Muneca played by Juan Martin Nero.

American Polo Horse Association Best Playing Pony Muneca played by Juan Martin Nero.

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.

In the morning game at Jan Pamela Field, Audi (Marc Ganzi, 2, Nic Roldan, 8, Pablo MacDonough, 10, Kris Kampsen, 6) won its opener with a 16-15 victory over Mandarina (Melissa Ganzi, 0, Alfredo Bigatti, 8, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 8, Pablo Spinacci, 6). 

Guillermo Terrera of WPL watches his neck shot.

Audi had to overcome Mandarina's 5-0 lead on handicap. By the third chukker, Audi evened the score at 9-9 on Ganzi's 30-yard penalty conversion and went ahead 10-9 on Kampsen neck shot right before the half.

WPL's Agustin Nero stretches to hook Juan Martin Nero of Grand Champions.

The teams battled back and forth in the second half. Audi led 12-11 after the fourth and 13-12 after the fifth. The teams were even 3-3 in the final chukker with Kampsen scoring the winning goal. 

Grant Ganzi of Grand Champions flying on all fours as he hits the ball out of the air.

For Audi, Ganzi and Pablo MacDonough shared scoring honors each with five goals. Roldan had four goals and Kampsen added two.

Nic Roldan of Audi gets wrapped up in his neck shot.

Melissa Ganzi led Mandarina with a game-high seven goals. Astrada had two goals and Spinacci added one. 

Audi's Marc Ganzi drives the ball downfield.

Two games are scheduled for Wednesday. At 11 a.m., the Bracket A losers, Alegria and Black Watch will play and at 4 p.m. the winners in Bracket A, J5 Equestrian rivals Colorado and Valiente will face off. The fields will be announced on Tuesday.

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

Alfredo Bigatti of Mandarina has possession with Nic Roldan of Audi defending.

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.

Alfredo Bigatti of Mandarina hits the near side back shot to leading scorer Melissa Ganzi.

The WPL, with tournament-quality fields to play on, features the All-Star Challenge Draw Tournament, Founders Cup, Palm Beach Open and Triple Crown of Polo. The WPL is open to teams that wish to compete in one or more of the tournaments. Games are offered on the flat (Open) and on Handicap.

Pablo MacDonough of Audi works the ball out of the air.

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

Kris Kampsen of Audi goes for the big hit downfield.

Grand Champions and Valiente are also launching the U.S. National Mixed Doubles Championship, featuring two men and two women with combined handicaps set for Friday, April 5 at a site and time to be determined. Valiente (Bob Jornayvaz, Mia Novillo Astrada, Mia Cambiaso, Adolfo Cambiaso) will play Audi (Marc Ganzi, Pablo MacDonough/Juan Martin Nero, Nina Clarkin, Mili Sanchez).

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

Grand Champions and WPL players, umpires and awards presenter Bettina Bahlsen.


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.

Grand Champions awards table for World Polo League Sunday Feature Game.
Photos by Ramon Casares

 
2019 WORLD POLO LEAGUE SCHEDULE


APRIL
March 27-April 14, Triple Crown of Polo


Wednesday, 4/3:
11 a.m. Alegria vs Black Watch
4 p.m. Colorado vs Valiente 

Thursday, 4/4:
11 a.m. Loser vs. Loser, Bracket B
4 p.m. Winner vs. Winner, Bracket B

Friday, 4/5:
WPL U.S. National Mixed Doubles Championship Finals
Valiente vs Audi 

Saturday, 4/6:

11 a.m. Winner Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 Bracket A
4 p.m. Winner Game 2 vs. Loser Game 1, Bracket A


Sunday, 4/7:
11 a.m. Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4, Bracket B
4 p.m. Winner Game 4 vs. Loser Game 3, Bracket B, GCPC Field 2

Wednesday, 4/10:
11 a.m. Subsidiary Semifinal
4 p.m. Subsidiary Semifinal

Thursday, 4/11:
11 a.m. Triple Crown of Polo Semifinal
4 p.m. Triple Crown of Polo Semifinal

Saturday, 4/13:
Subsidiary Final

Sunday, 4/14:
4 p.m. Triple Crown of Polo Championship 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

GRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUB

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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