Audi, Valiente Win Big, Advance Into Sterling Cup Final At Grand Champions

 Juan Britos of Valiente on his way to scoring one of his six game-high goals.

Juan Britos of Valiente on his way to scoring one of his six game-high goals.

 

 By Sharon Robb

WELLINGTON, Fl., March 14, 2018---Audi and Valiente will meet in the much-anticipated final of the prestigious Sterling Cup at Grand Champions Polo Club.

AUDI 13, TONKAWA 11

Audi (Marc Ganzi, 2, Henry Porter, 2, Nic Roldan, 8, Nico Pieres, 8) dominated the game from start-to-finish to knock off previously undefeated Tonkawa (Cody Ellis, 3, Gringo Colombres, 7, Sterling Giannico, 7, Julian de Lusaretta, 7).

Audi improves to 3-1 and Tonkawa finishes with a 3-1 record.

Audi played its best game of the tournament against Tonkawa, using its fourth different lineup of the tournament and playing without 10-goaler Sapo Caset.

"I think this was a good win against a really good team," Pieres said. "They were a four-man team. We played well. Marc and Henry played an amazing game. They had a tough job today. It ended up by two but at one moment we were up by five and that's good for Audi.

"We dominated and we played our game," Pieres said. "We didn't let them in the game. We were always in control."

After a 2-2 opening chukker, Audi took control and took Tonkawa out of its game to lead the remaining chukkers, 6-4, 7-5, 9-7 and 11-8. 

"It was a very tough game, the whole game we were working really hard," said Porter, also a member of GSA that will try and defend its title in the final of the $50,000 National 12-Goal against Beverly Equestrian on Saturday. "I didn't feel like we slowed down at any point. 

"At the beginning of the game we wanted to get them to play our game and not to play theirs and it worked," Porter said. 

Early in the sixth chukker, Audi grabbed its biggest lead, 13-8, on Roldan's 30-yard penalty after Tonkawa lost its second-half challenge.

"We played well against a really tough team, it was a good win," Roldan said. "The four of us played a really solid game. Marc really stepped it up today. I think he had the best game of the tournament and that helped out a lot. Nico played amazing and Henry was solid. It was fun, we had a good time.

"We're excited to be in the finals and play against Valiente," Roldan said. "We know it's going to be tough but we feel good. We have a good system going and the four of us are playing well."

Roldan scored a game-high six goals, Pieres had four and Ganzi and Porter each had one goal.

"Valiente is going to be really tough," Pieres said. "Poroto (Cambiaso) is a young kid but really talented. We have to be careful with him because as soon as he hits the ball he can score from every where. We need to be focused and keep on playing like we have been doing."

Colombres led Tonkawa with five goals. Giannico added three, de Lusaretta two and Ellis one.

Before the game, a moment of silence was observed for Hall of Famer Steve Orthwein, 72, a kind and generous supporter of polo and true gentleman of the sport, who passed away in his sleep Monday in his Wellington home.

VALIENTE 12, TRAVIESO

Valiente (Poroto Cambiaso, 1, Bautista Panelo, 2, Juan Britos, 7, Adolfo Cambiaso, 10) was too quick and consistent for Travieso (Teo Calle, 1, Tony Calle, 3, Sebastian Merlos, 9, Tomas Garcia del Rio, 7) to overcome.

Valiente (3-1) led every chukker, 2-1, 4-2, 6-2, 8-3 and 10-4 to frustrate Travieso and take them out of their game early.

Father and son Adolfo and Poroto Cambiaso, who played together for the first time in a U.S. tournament last year in the $100,000 World Cup at Grand Champions, now hope to win their first tournament together. Standing in their way is Audi.

Britos scored a game-high six goals. Adolfo and Poroto Cambiaso each had three goals. Merlos and del Rio each had two goals for Travieso. Father and son Teo and Tony Calle each had one goal.

The Sterling Cup was resurrected by Grand Champions owners Melissa and Marc Ganzi in hopes of recapturing polo's glory days.

The Sterling Cup was the second tournament of the 22-goal season at Palm Beach Polo after the January Challenge Cup and last played in 1995. It was considered the 22-goal championship and attracted as many as eighteen teams.

It was first played in 1989 with Saniva B.G.K. winning the title. Other past winners include Pegasus, C.S. Brook, Grant’s Farm Manor, Revlon, Calumet Farm, Pony Express, Palm Beach Polo, Isla Carroll and White Birch.

Wellington-based ChukkerTV, leaders in polo broadcasting, is live streaming the Sterling Cup.

Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique private 100-acre polo facility in Wellington with 120 stalls in five self-contained barns, exercise track, five climate-controlled tack rooms, vet room, staff quarters, guest house and polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation and stick-and-ball fields.

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.

The club features monthly 6, 8 and 12-goal tournaments and women's weekly league play during the winter season in addition to two 16-20 tournaments, $50,000 National 12 Goal, $100,000 World Cup winner-take-all 0-40-goal tournament, WCT Tournament and USPA National President's Cup.

During the 2017 winter season Grand Champions attracted a record 72 teams and another 18 teams during the spring season.

Grand Champions 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 Club Hotline is 561-644-5050. It will be updated every day at 8 a.m. for both players and fans. The time and date of the Sterling Cup final, still to be determined, will be announced on the hotline.