WELLINGTON, Fl., February 7, 2017---Faced with a must-win situation, Grand Champions-Casablanca's sixth-chukker rally fell short against Valiente I Sunday in front of a packed house at Grand Champions Polo Club.
The foursome of Grant Ganzi, Nic Roldan, Inaki Laprida and Juancito Bollini lost a gut-wrenching 10-9 decision to Valiente I, which advanced intoSunday’s quarterfinals.
Led by 10-goaler Adolfo Cambiaso, Valiente I took advantage of Grand Champions-Casablanca’s penalties and missed scoring opportunities to gain an edge and at least a one-goal lead for four chukkers.
Valiente I led 4-3 at the half, 7-5 after the fourth and 9-8 after the fifth chukkers. Valiente I shut out Grand Champions-Casablanca in the third chukker and went penalty-free in the first half.
In the sixth chukker, with Valiente I (Bob Jornayvaz, Felipe Viana, Adolfo Cambiaso, Torito Ruiz) leading 10-8, Roldan converted a penalty-five to trail by only one, 10-9.
Grand Champions-Casablanca had three scoring opportunities in the final three minutes but fell short.
Grand Champions-Casablanca led in throw-ins, 12-8, but could convert only 6-of-14 shots from the field. Valiente I scored on 7-of-16 shots. Both teams converted 3-of-4 penalty shots.
Grand Champions-Casablanca committed 11 fouls while Valiente I had only six fouls, all in the second half. Valiente I kept Roldan off the penalty line for most of the game.
Roldan scored a game-high six goals, five from the field. Ganzi and Laprida each had one goal. The team also had a penalty-one.
Cambiaso had a game-high seven goals including three penalty conversions. Jornayvaz, Viana and Ruiz each had one.
“They are a tough team, they made the semis of the last tournament and they know each other pretty well,” Viana said. “This was just like every other game in this tournament, it was tough.
“This was a big win, we are through to the quarterfinals,” Viana said. “We have a lot of things to work on and improve on. Our biggest strength is Adolfo. He is great at improvising and changing systems. Every single time he is a Pandora’s box, he is full of surprises. You never know what he is going to come up with.”
Jornayvaz was coming back from a broken left leg suffered while playing in England. He used a mounting block and black mat to eliminate impact when dismounting and changing horses.
“It’s still not totally healed,” said Jornayvaz, who is preparing for the 26-goal season. “It still hurts when you have that impact.
“It’s so hard to start from scratch in the 26-goal,” Jornayvaz said. “You want them out there playing speed and playing competitively. We use the 20-goal as preparation. We would still love to play the finals of last year’s Ylvisaker.”
The 2016 final between Valiente I and Orchard Hill was cancelled after scheduling conflicts caused by heavy rain and wet fields.
Valiente I was coming off a lopsided 14-8 loss to Orchard Hill which Jornayvaz called “disappointing.”
“We have a very basic system with a few variations,” Jornayvaz said. “We don’t try to make it really complicated. Throughout the game we decided what we needed to adapt to. We are a very disciplined team with strong horsepower.”
Ruiz, 18, was coming off his MVP performance in GSA’s win in the Limited Edition 12-Goal Series Handicap Final at Grand Champions.
Grand Champions-Casablanca will now regroup and focus on the upcoming Feb. 22-March 11Sterling Cup (20-Goal) hosted by Grand Champions Polo Club.
The Sterling Cup is one of two classic tournaments Grand Champions Polo Club is bringing back. The Sterling Cup was the second tournament of the 22-goal season at Palm Beach Polo after the January Challenge Cup. It was considered the 22-goal championship and attracted as many as sixteen teams. The John T. Oxley Memorial Trophy will serve as the handicap subsidiary.
Fourteen teams are competing in the Ylvisaker Cup’s four brackets over three weeks. The top eight teams, finalized after Wednesday's two games, advance into Sunday’s quarterfinal round.
The final two Bracket III games are Wednesday. Coca-Cola (2-0) plays Equine Liquid Biocell (0-2) at noon and Villa del Lago/Modere (1-1) meets Horseware/Tackeria (1-1) at 3 p.m. Both games will be live streamed on USPA Polo Network with content provided by its Wellington-based production company ChukkerTV.
The prestigious tournament, established in 2003, is named after visionary business leader and lifelong polo enthusiast Bill Ylvisaker. Thea former captain of the Yale polo team founded the Palm Beach Polo and Country Club and created the Polo Training Foundation to teach and develop young polo players.
Ylvisaker was a 7-goal rated player and won three U.S. Opens, two Coronation Cups against England and Australia, Gold Cup and four national 20-goal championships. He was chairman of the U.S. Polo Association (1970-75) and inducted into the Polo Hall of Fame in 1994. He died February 5, 2010 at age 85.
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.
Casablanca, founded by polo players who understand the needs of today’s polo players, supplies a wide variety of polo products, equipment and apparel through superior quality, value and service around the world. Behind the Casablanca brand is a serious pledge to quality, excellence and elegance.
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).
Halo Polo Trophy (6 goal): Feb. 7, Banks Mill Feed vs. Pony Express, 4 p.m.; Feb. 10, Willow Farm vs. Hawk Hill, 2 p.m.;Feb. 11, The Polo School vs. Banks Mill Feed, 10 a.m., Equuleus vs. Grand Champions, 11:30 a.m., Smithfield vs. Horseware/Aliano, noon; Feb. 15, Willow Farm vs. Horseware/Aliano, 3 p.m., The Polo School vs. Pony Express,4 p.m.; Feb. 18: Hawk Hill vs. Horseware/Aliano, 10 a.m., Banks Mill vs. Grand Champions, 11:30 a.m.; Feb. 19, Grand Champions vs. Pony Express, 10 a.m., Smithfield vs. Willow Farm, noon; Equuleus vs. The Polo School, noon; Feb. 22, Banks Mill Feed vs. Equuleus, 4 p.m.; Feb. 25, Halo Polo Handicap Final, 10 a.m., Halo Polo Final, 4 p.m.
Top Pony 8 Goal Series: Feb. 10, Smithfield vs. Valiente, 4 p.m.; Feb. 11, Seacap vs. Odosan/Polologistics, 10 a.m., Valiente vs. Hawk Hill, noon; Feb. 12, Patagones vs. Smithfield, 10 a.m.; Feb. 16, Seacap vs. Valiente, 11 a.m.;Feb. 17, Odosan/Polologistics vs. Smithfield, 3 p.m.; Hawk Hill vs. Patagones, 4 p.m.; Feb. 19, Odosan/Polologistics vs. Hawk Hill, 10 a.m.; Feb. 23, Seacap vs. Patagones, 4 p.m.;Feb. 26, Top Pony Handicap Final, 10 a.m., Top Pony Final,noon.
USPA Sieber 12-Goal Memorial: Feb. 9, The Polo School vs. Patagones, 4 p.m.; Feb. 10, Skaneateles vs. Audi, 3:30 p.m.;Feb. 11, Dutta Corp vs. Cria Yatay, 2:30 p.m.; Feb. 12, Skaneateles vs. Audi, 10 a.m.; Feb. 13, GSA vs. Palm Beach Equine, 3:30 p.m.; Feb. 14, Skaneateles vs. The Polo School, 11 a.m., Patagones vs. Audi, 4 p.m.; Feb. 16, Dutta Corp vs. Palm Beach Equine, 3:30 p.m.; Feb. 19, Patagones vs. Skaneateles, 10 a.m., Cria Yatay vs. Palm Beach Equine,12:30 p.m.; Feb. 21, Dutta Corp vs. GSA, 3:30 p.m.; Feb. 23, Audi vs. The Polo School, 10 a.m.; Feb. 25, Sieber Memorial Handicap Final, 1 p.m., Sieber Memorial Final, 3 p.m.
Women’s League, every Wednesday, 10 and 11 a.m.
FEBRUARY 22-March 11: Sterling Cup (20 goal) and John T. Oxley Memorial Trophy (Subsidiary 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, 10 and 11 a.m.
MARCH 1-11: $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament (Single elimination).
MARCH 12: Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County, Inc. Celebrity Polo Charity Cup, 10 a.m.
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, every Wednesday, 10 and 11 a.m.
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.
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-Casablanca. 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.