WELLINGTON, Fl., April 5, 2017---Grand Champions Polo Club-based pro teams Audi and Flexjet will meet Thursday in the U.S. Open at International Polo Club Palm Beach.
Audi (Marc Ganzi, Nic Roldan, Magoo Laprida, Alejandro Novillo Astrada) and Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, Nico Pieres, Gonzalito Pieres, Rodrigo Andrade) are two of the strongest teams in the six-team field for the three-week tournament.
Two games are scheduled for Thursday. Audi and Flexjet play at 11 a.m. Coca-Cola and Travieso play at 5 p.m.
Travieso is making its 26-goal debut after getting its start at Grand Champions in the medium and 20-goal tournaments. Travieso, led by Argentine 9-goaler Sebastian Merlos, recently won both the 20-goal Sterling Cup and Molina Cup at Grand Champions. Merlos has won three U.S. Open titles, the last in 1998.
Flexjet is coming off a runner-up finish in the USPA Butler Handicap Cup in its high goal season debut. Flexjet lost a 12-9 decision to Coca-Cola but played well. Gonzalito Pieres scored a game-high seven goals.
Nico Pieres, recently raised to 10 goals in Argentina, missed the Butler Cup and joined the team for itsTuesday game against Valiente II in the opening round of the $100,000 World Cup after returning from playing in Dubai. The foursome may have lost but the chemistry is evident.
“I am really excited to play on this team,” 9-goaler Gonzalito Pieres said. “We are looking forward to playing in the U.S. Open. Opening with Audi is the draw. We have Audi and Travieso in our bracket. Hopefully, we have trained to start winning our first game and then see what happens on the weekend.”
Brothers Gonzalito, Facundo and Nico Pieres played with Marc Ganzi for Audi to win the 2009 U.S. Open title and would like to win it again with Melissa Ganzi.
“I enjoy playing a lot with Nico,” Gonzalito Pieres said. “We played as a team and we have Meli so we are quite excited to play again.”
Melissa Ganzi, USPA Florida Circuit Governor and Grand Champions President, is one of only two women competing in the high goal tournament. The other is Gillian Johnston of Coca-Cola, coming off its first 26-goal tournament win in the Butler Cup.
Audi, with a lineup of Marc Ganzi, Tomas Pieres, Gonzalito Pieres and Rodrigo Andrade made its high goal season debut in the USPA Gold Cup, where it was eliminated in the semifinals with a 12-8 loss to undefeated Valiente, which has won the C.V. Whitney and Gold Cup, the first two jewels of America’s Triple Crown in polo.
Weather permitting, the U.S. Open semifinals are April 19th and final is April 23 at 3 p.m.
Rated No. 1 by Consumer Reports as the best auto brand overall, Audi is a valued sponsor with a rich winning tradition in polo. The German automobile manufacturer designs, engineers, produces, markets and distributes luxury automobiles throughout the world including West Palm Beach.
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 tournament is being live-streamed on the USPA Polo Network at uspolo.org with content provided by production company and Wellington-based ChukkerTV. All games will also be available for on-demand viewing.
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 in all walks of life 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).
APRIL: $100,000 World Cup Tournament (0-26 Goals), APRIL 4-15: $100,000 World Cup Tournament (0-26 Goals), single- elimination: Thursday, 10 a.m., Casa Dio vs. GSA; Friday, 4:30 p.m., Orchard Hill vs. Travieso; Saturday, 4 p.m., San Saba vs. Deeridge; Second round, April 9-10.
APRIL 5-25: 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 and Flexjet. 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.