WELLINGTON, Fl., March 31, 2017---Flexjet will make its high goal season debut Sunday at International Polo Club Palm Beach.
The talented foursome of 9-goalers Gonzalito Pieres and Rodrigo Andrade, 8-goaler Nico Pieres and Melissa Ganzi will play Coca-Cola (Gillian Johnston, Julian de Lusarreta, Julio Arellano and Miguel Novillo Astrada in the featured USPA Butler Handicap final at 3 p.m. on Engel & Volkers Field.
Coca-Cola is coming off a 9-6 loss to Valiente in last Sunday’s USPA Gold Cup final.
The USPA Butler Handicap Cup was a late addition to the IPC 26-goal tournament this season.
Gonzalito Pieres and Andrade are coming off playing in the USPA Gold Cup for Audi that was eliminated in the semifinal by Valiente with a 12-8 loss. It was Audi’s 26-goal debut and only third game of the season.
Gonzalito Pieres and his younger brother Nico were teammates on Audi’s 2009 U.S. Open champion. He also won the USPA Gold Cup and C.V. Whitney Cup in past years with Audi. The former 10-goaler has won nearly every major tournament throughout the world and is the team’s field general.
Andrade won the Queen’s Cup and Gold Cup the same year and has competed in the U.S. Open. After the U.S. season, Andrade is returning to England to play for RH along with Adolfo Cambiaso and Tommy Beresford.
Ganzi has been playing and training at both Santa Rita Polo Farm and Grand Champions and is coming off a successful snow polo season. Ganzi became the first woman to win a World Snow Polo Championship title with her Flexjet teammates Jesse Bray and Jason Crowder in Aspen in December and was runner-up in the Jan. 29 St. Moritz Snow Polo World Cup final with Bray, Alejandro Novillo Astrada and Tito Gaudenzi for Badrutt's Palace Hotel. Both Ganzi and her son, Grant, have won the Butler Handicap Cup.
Ganzi, the USPA Florida Circuit Governor and Grand Champions President, is one of the sport’s top women players and is one of only two women competing in the 26-goal season.
Audi (Marc Ganzi, Nic Roldan, Magoo Laprida, Alejandro Novillo Astrada) and Flexjet are based at Grand Champions Polo Club, one of the nation’s top clubs featuring tournaments from four-to-26 goal including next week’s $100,000 World Cup (0-26).
The Butler Handicap will serve as a tune-up for Flexjet for the U.S. Open that begins next week. Flexjet is one of six teams in the field and one of the favorites.
The Butler Handicap Cup, a USPA national tournament, was played last year at Greenwich Polo Club during its 20-goal season and won by White Birch (Santino Magrini, Hilario Ulloa, MVP Mariano Aguerre, Peter Brant).
The Cup, established in 1954, is named in honor of Paul Butler, in his early 60s at the time, as a subsidiary for the U.S. Open held at Oak Brook Polo Club in Illinois. In the late 90s and early 2000s, the Butler was played only a handful of times (1995, 2006, 2007) and in more recent times (2008-2014) served as a subsidiary to the USPA Gold Cup. In 2014 it was named an official national USPA event. This season the Cup returns to 26-goal status.
Flexjet has been a member of the Directional Aviation family of companies since 2013. They are committed to creating premium travel experiences and providing access to the most modern, technologically-advanced aircraft in the industry on a daily basis, going above and beyond world-class private travel experiences and unlike anything else in the sky.
The Butler Handicap final is being live-streamed on USPA Polo Network with content supplied from Wellington-based ChukkerTV, worldwide leaders in polo broadcasting.
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 GRAND CHAMPIONS WINTER SCHEDULE
(Subject to change because of weather and scheduling conflicts).
SATURDAY, APRIL 1: Molina Cup 20-goal Championship Final, Beverly Equestrian Polo vs. Travieso, 4 p.m. followed by $100,000 World Cup Draw; Limited Edition 8-Goal Final, Hawk Hill at Valiente, 10 a.m.; Limited Edition 8-Goal Handicap Final, 11 a.m., Skaneateles vs. Smithfield at GCPC; Series 1 Madelon Bourdieu 6-Goal Handicap Final, Grand Champions Polo Club vs. The Polo School at Santa Rita, 11:30 a.m.
SUNDAY, April 2: Top Pony 12-Goal Final, High Ground/GSA at Patagones, 10:30 a.m.; Madelon Bourdieu 6-Goal Final, Sebucan at Equuleus, 10 a.m.
APRIL 3-15: $100,000 World Cup Tournament (0-26 Goals), winner-take-all, single- elimination.
APRIL 4-25: Las Acacias (4-8 Goals).
APRIL 21-23: GCPC Abierto.
APRIL 28-30: USPA Eastern Challenge.
MAY 5-7: USPA Sun Cup
MAY 12-14: The Spring Challenge Cup.
MAY 19-21: Polo Gear Invitational.
MAY 26-29: The Memorial.
GRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUB
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 Casablanca. Everyone is welcome to watch every level of polo in a relaxed atmosphere that includes 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.