WELLINGTON, FL--November 5, 2017---On a perfect, windswept day for polo at Santa Rita Polo Farm's Aspen Field, Patagones held off Newport, 8-6, to capture the inaugural Daylight Savings Cup.
Patagones (Gilles Blain, 0, Benjamin Avendano, 1, Pablo Dorignac, 5, Jesse Bray, 5) and Newport (Gene Goldstein, 1, Lucas Arellano, 1, Jeff Blake, 6, Carlitos Gracida, 4) were evenly-matched from the opening chukker even though Patagones jumped out to a 3-0 lead after two chukkers.
Newport had its share of scoring opportunities early in the game but could not take advantage of them. Patagones led 4-1 at the half after a 1-1 third chukker.
The teams played evenly, 2-2 and 0-0, in the fourth and fifth chukkers before Newport outscored Patagones, 3-2, sparked by Goldstein's two sixth-chukker goals. Trailing 7-3 in the sixth chukker, Newport scored three unanswered goals to trail 7-6 with 1:02 left before Dorignac scored an insurance goal as time ran out.
Benjamin Avendano, 19, a sophomore at Lynn University, was selected Most Valuable Player. Avendano scored two goals, including one on a long run, and played well defensively.
"I am really happy with the team and how it worked out," said Avendano, who played with Blain and Dorignac for the first time. "We played well. The back players passed the ball up to the front a lot. It was a lot of fun. We understood each other really well."
Avendano is getting into shape for the upcoming winter season at Grand Champions. His horses are scheduled to arrive in two weeks. Patagones plans to field a team for the 12-goal season. Avendano also hopes to play with his brothers in the 8-goal season.
To play with and against top polo players during the fall season has helped Avendano improve his game, he said. He has been playing polo since he was 10.
"I like that my whole family and friends play polo," Avendano said. "I like the horses, too. Tournaments like this are fun. They are friendly and you get to meet a lot of people. Right now, I am at 60 percent of my game. I am trying to get better for the season."
Gilles Blain, a 2003 graduate of Johnson and Wales University and owner of the Rincon de Francia in Quito, Ecuador, won his first U.S. polo tournament in his Grand Champions debut.
"This is my first time in Wellington," Gilles said. "It is amazing here. The people are amazing, the horses are amazing, and weather is beautiful. Everything couldn't be better."
Blain has played at his Quito Polo Club in Checa Pichincha, just outside of Quito for ten years. He has played with Teo and Tony Calle and Hugo Barabucci and followed Travieso's success at Grand Champions.
"I am a zero, zero," Blain said with a smile. "I learned the game very old. I am here because of my son. He is the one who gets better than me."
Nicolas Blain, 11, is taking lessons at The Polo School with Director of Operations Juan Bollini, a former 8-goal player.
"Today was very amazing being on the winning team," Blain said. "I got a goal. I helped a little bit because this game was really hard. They make you run a little faster than other kind of games I have played."
Dorignac scored a game-high five goals. Avendano had two goals and Blain added one for Patagones. Goldstein led Newport with three goals. Blake scored two goals and Gracida had one.
The highlight of the fall season is the Nov. 25 doubleheader with the Carlos Gracida Memorial Legends of Polo and International Cup pitting defending champion Team USA against Brazil. Sponsorship packages are still available and tickets are on sale.
During fall, winter and spring seasons, Grand Champions Polo Club, the nation's largest club with 11 well-manicured fields, hosts polo tournaments ranging from six to 26-goal in addition to special events.
Grand Champions Polo Cup attracted a record 72 teams during its 2017 winter season that featured the $100,000 World Cup, $50,000 National 12-Goal, 20-Goal Sterling Cup and 20-Goal Molina Cup, and another 18 teams during the spring season.
The entire fall season will be live-streamed on Wellington-based ChukkerTV, leaders in polo broadcasting with cutting-edge technology. ChukkerTV also features team challenges and instant replay which made their debut at Grand Champions in January, 2014.
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.