WELLINGTON, FL-January 30, 2017-After getting knocked off last year, Cartier returned to the winners’ circle with a hardfought 7-4 victory over Badrutt’s Palace Hotel in the St. Moritz Snow Polo World Cup final in front of 7,000 fans.
With a breathtaking backdrop of the snow-capped Engadin Valley, the 16-goal team of 1-goaler Rommy Gianni of Italy, 2-goaler Charlie Wooldridge of England, 6-goaler Chris Hyde of England and 7-goaler Dario Musso of Argentina reclaimed the coveted Cartier Trophy.
It was the first time Badrutt’s foursome of Melissa Ganzi, 8-goaler Alejandro Novillo Astrada of Argentina, 5-goaler Jesse Bray and 2-goaler Tito Gaudenzi played together as a team.
“I am very proud of how our team played to get here,” Ganzi said. “Obviously, it is disappointing not to win. But to lose to such a strong team that is so well-organized and has won here for many years and trained in Europe in preparation for coming here is okay. They are a very strong team and I was honored to play in the final.
“We are a new team," Ganzi said. "It was the first time that our team played together. This is hometown for Tito and I played in snow polo in Aspen. Jesse had only seen snow for the first time in Aspen this past year. Alejandro has played in Aspen once and here many, many years ago. I just was hopeful to have a good time which we did.”
Trailing 3-1 at the half, Badrutt’s Palace Hotel rallied for back-to-back goals to tie the game at 3-3 but was unable to take advantage of scoring opportunities or stop Cartier’s three-goal scoring barrage in the fourth and final chukker.
“We had a tough half chukker and that’s what’s so dangerous about the Cartier team," Ganzi said. "If you let your guard down, they can score instantly and that’s what happened. Otherwise we were very even and well-matched. We look forward to coming back next year. Each year we are improving. We were third last year, second this year and hopefully we can win next year.”
Cartier was the pre-tournament favorite.
“We wanted to win, we always believed we could win,” said Gianni, after winning his second St. Moritz title. “They were a good team. They all played very well and had experience. It came down to the fourth chukker.
“Chris and Dario are two excellent players and two leaders and were the difference,” Gianni said. “We played very hard in the final.”
It was the first appearance in the championship final by Badrutt’s 15-goal team. Badrutt’s Palace Hotel scored 17 goals in three games.
Hyde was named Most Valuable Player after winning his sixth St. Moritz title. His gray mare, Promise, was selected Best Playing Pony.
“This is the best the surface has been and played really fast,” Hyde said. “That was a very tough team.”
In the consolation game, Champagne Perrier-Jouet (Fabian Bolanterio, 5; Luca Meier, 1, Lucas Labat, 7, Fabio Meier, 1) won the La Martina Cup with a 5-4 victory over Maserati (James Beh, 1, Joevy Beh, 5, Chevy Beh, 5, Garvy Beh, 5) in the consolation final.
In early tournament action, Badrutt’s Palace Hotel opened with an impressive 7-1 victory over Maserati and Cartier defeated Perrier-Jouet, 7-4, on Friday. In the semifinals, Badrutt’s Palace Hotel again led from start to finish to defeat Perrier-Jouet, 6-2, and Cartier advanced into the final with a win over Maserati.
Ganzi, the Florida Circuit Governor and Grand Champions Polo Club president, returned to the 33rd event after making history in last year’s tournament. Ganzi was the first woman to compete in the snow polo tournament since its inception in 1985 and now is the first woman to appear in a final.
Ganzi was hoping to make it two in a row after winning the World Snow Polo Championship held in December in Aspen where she and her husband Marc own Aspen Valley Polo Club and host the snow polo tournament.
Ganzi, Bray and Jason Crowder of Flexjet knocked off defending champion U.S. Polo Assn., 7-4, to win its first snow polo title. Bray, making his snow polo debut, was Most Valuable Player.
In last year’s St. Moritz event, Badrutt’s Palace Hotel captured the La Martina Cup. Ganzi, Mariano Gracida, Agustin (Tincho) Merlos and Gaudenzi won a thrilling 5-3 victory over Perrier-Jouet (Cedric Schweri, Luca Zindel, Aluisio Rosa, Olavo Novaes) in front of a sellout crowd.
In the championship final, Team Maserati (Rommy Gianni, Luciano Vazquez, Dario Musso, Frankie Menendes) knocked off defending champion Cartier (Spencer McCarthy, Charlie Wooldridge, Chris Hyde, Nacho Gonzalez), 5-4. Musso was named Most Valuable Player.
This year’s St. Moritz event attracted a record crowd of 15,000 over three days.
Since the tournament’s inception, admission to the event has always been free including access to the stands. The VIP tickets were sold out.
Badrutt’s Palace is the birthplace of Alpine winter sports and favorite European destination. The five-star hotel recently celebrated 120 years since opening its doors. It won the award for Most Renowned Luxury Hotel 2016 at the HotelSpa Awards.
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 only polo club in the U.S. to offer the unique program.
The Polo School at Grand Champions, a 501c3 organization, is dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grass roots youth. Its mission is to provide individuals opportunities in polo. The Polo School operates in Wellington January through June and September through November.
2017 WINTER SCHEDULE
(Subject to change because of weather and scheduling conflicts).
Metropolitan Cup (6 goal): Tuesday, Championship Final at Santa Rita Aspen Field, Willow Farm vs. Bank Mills Feed, 10 a.m.
Aspen Valley Cup (8 goal): Saturday, Handicap Final, Odosan vs. Patagones; Sunday, Final, Hawk Hill vs. Seacap (tentative).
The Limited Edition Series (12 goal): Thursday, Handicap Final, Beverly Equestrian vs. GSA, 3:30 p.m. (tentative)
FEBRUARY: 1-26, Halo Polo Trophy (6 goal) and Top Pony 8 Goal Series; 1-25, USPA Sieber Memorial Trophy; Women’s League, every Wednesday.
FEBRUARY 22-March 11: Sterling Cup (20 goal) and John T. Oxley Memorial Trophy (Subs. Handicap).
MARCH: 1-26, Madelon Bourdieu Memorial (6 goal) and The Limited Edition 8-Goal Series; 1-25, The Top Pony 12-Goal Series; Women’s League, every Wednesday.
MARCH 1-11: $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament (Single elimination).
MARCH 15-April 1: National 20-Goal; Santa Rita Abierto (Subs. Handicap).
APRIL 1-15: $100,000 World Cup Tournament (0-26 Goals), winner-take-all single elimination.
APRIL 1-25: Las Acacias (4-8 Goals), Women’s League, everyWednesday.
APRIL 5-8: WCT Finals and Women’s Polo Week.
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 561-373-0073.
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, Flexjet and first-year team Grand Champions Polo Club. Everyone is welcome to watch every level of polo in a relaxed atmosphere that includes complimentary 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.