WELLINGTON, Fl., April 7----Even though the lineup had a different look, GSA continued its winning ways on Day 3 of the $100,000 World Cup Thursday at Grand Champions Polo Club.
Global Student Accomodation (GSA), the winningest 12-goal team during the winter season, defeated Casa Dio, 15-12, in the opening round.
With Juan Martin Zubia and Santino Magrini back home in Argentina, GSA regulars Henry Porter and Torito Ruiz were joined by their coach Matias Magrini and Joaquin Panelo, another talented young up-and-comer, in the lineup.
“The kids unluckily couldn’t come from Argentina,” said Magrini, still nursing a pulled riding muscle. “We tried to get them to come, but it was difficult. Even though we missed them, these three kids we have are very good.
“Joaquin is amazing,” Magrini said. “We invited him yesterday because we still had hope that Juan Martin could come but he couldn’t. Joaquin came in with no practice at all but he fits perfectly with this group of talented kids. He is one of the best for me.”
The lineup change moved GSA from a 12-goal team to a 17-goal team against 22-goal Casa Dio (Juan Martin Obregon, Mariano Obregon, Juan Monteverde, Carlucho Arellano) to open the game with a 5-0 lead.
“The whole strategy was to play polo and to have fun,” Magrini said. “If we won great, if we didn’t we still had fun. I had a lot of fun, it was a great game.”
Arellano scored Casa Dio’s first goal with 3:51 left in the opening chukker but two minutes later Panelo came back with a goal to maintain GSA’s five-goal lead, 6-1.
“I think the first chukker they were a little bit shocked after we got a few breakaway goals and that gave us a good head start,” Porter said. “The second half is when they started getting angry with each other and started breaking apart.”
GSA never allowed Casa Dio to find its rhythm with a swarming defense and balanced offensive attack. GSA had leads of 8-2 after the second, 9-3 at the half, 12-5 after the fourth and 14-7 after the fifth.
Casa Dio scored four unanswered goals, three by Arellano, in the sixth chukker but ran out of time.
Ruiz, 18, led GSA in scoring with six goals. Magrini and Panelo each had two goals. Arellano scored a game-high seven goals. Porter of Great Britain, competing in his final U.S. tournament of the season, was outstanding on defense turning away three potential goals off the line.
Porter said he wasn’t worried about not having the original GSA team lineup.
“With Matias there any way you always have an extra player,” Porter said. “We spent the previous two days working on the best possible team we could make. We all played together before. It went really well and Joaquin was on fire.”
GSA will now play 21-goal team Palm Beach Illustrated (Jared Zenni, Santi Torres, Agustin Obregon, Tommy Collingwood), 14-8 winners over IPC in the second round of the winner-take-all World Cup featuring a club record sixteen teams.
“They are a very tough team,” Porter said. “They are a similar team to what we just played because they are a four-man team and it’s a very tough four-man team. We will start with four goals and hopefully we will be playing with a 12-goal team. Otherwise, maybe we will play with this team again if the other guys can’t make it.”
Magrini said he is not sure whether he will play again and hasn’t decided on the lineup for the second round.
World Cup action continues Friday with one game scheduled at Grand Champions Polo Club on Field One at 4:30 p.m.Orchard Hill (Polito Pieres, Juan Chavanne, Facundo Pieres, Steve Van Andel), rated at 26 goals, will play 6-goal Travieso (Mackenzie Weisz, Tony Calle, Julio Ezcurra, Juanse Olivera) in a chapter out of David and Goliath.
At 14, Mackie Weisz, son of pro Andres Weisz, is one of the youngest players in the tournament. Olivera and Will Jacobs of Deeridge are also 14.
The World Cup is the second of two classic and prestigious tournaments that Grand Champions owners and high goal polo players Melissa and Marc Ganzi are reviving thanks to the generosity of Glenn Straub of Palm Beach Polo, where they were last played in the late 1990s. The first tournament they revived was the Sterling Cup.
The prestigious World Cup is a tournament steeped in tradition. American businessman and polo player Bill Ylvisaker, then CEO of a Fortune 200 battery company in Chicago, created the Gould World Polo Championship with a prize purse of $150,000.
It was first held in 1976 at the Butler Polo Grounds in Oak Brook, Illinois. Ylvisaker's staff sent out invitations to countries all over the world known to have top-ranked pro polo teams.
Three teams from the United States were recruited and joined Mexico, India, England and Argentina in the field. The inaugural event was won by Argentina, attracted great crowds and was deemed a success.
In 1977, Ylvisaker bought 2,000 acres to develop a polo resort. The Palm Beach Polo and Country Club was built with 14 polo fields and soon became the polo capital of the world.
The first season at the new club featured the $150,000 Michelob World Cup Polo Championship. Held April 3-15, it was the highlight of the season attracting top players and sponsors from around the world. Back then it was the world’s richest and most premier polo event and one of the most significant polo championships.
In 1988, Landmark purchased the club for $25 million and continued the club’s growth until it was sold at auction in 1993 to Straub.
The tournament will be live-streamed on 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 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: Friday, 4:30 p.m., Orchard Hill vs. Travieso, Field One; Saturday, 4 p.m., San Saba vs. Deeridge; Second round, April 9-10.
APRIL: 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.