By Sharon Robb
WELLINGTON, Fl., March 31, 2018--Grand Champions Polo Club-based pro teams Flexjet and Audi will have the chance to bring home two trophies on Sunday at International Polo Club Palm Beach.
Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, A, Rodrigo Andrade, 9, Gonzalito Pieres, 9, Nico Pieres, 8) will play undefeated Valiente in the 3 p.m. final of the USPA Gold Cup, the second jewel of America's Triple Crown in polo.
Audi (Marc Ganzi, 2, Mike Azzaro, 6, Polito Pieres, 10, Nic Roldan, 9) will face Colorado (Robert Jornayvaz, 1, Juan Britos, 7, Magoo Laprida, 8, Diego Cavanagh, 9) in the subsidiary game at 10am. In their last meeting, Colorado defeated Audi, 11-10, in the final seconds.
Flexjet (3-1) advanced into the final with a thrilling 10-9 victory over Daily Racing Form (Jared Zenni, 5, Agustin Obregon, 5, Hilario Ulloa, 10, Mariano Obregon). It was the second time the talented foursome defeated the Daily Racing Form.
Flexjet was even more dominating in the second game behind Andrade who had one of his finest career games taking advantage of broken plays to score and stalling Daily Racing Form offensive drive in the final seconds.
With the game tied 9-9 after Ulloa converted a 60-yard penalty in the final two minutes, Gonzalito Pieres came back to clinch the win with a 40-yard penalty conversion. Andrade then stopped Ulloa's scoring attempt with 45 seconds left.
"We are trying to play good together as a team," said Gonzalito Pieres. "We know the potential that we have and we have to prove it in the right games."
Flexjet was 6-of-13 in field shot conversions and Daily Racing Form was 8-of-12. Flexjet was perfect at the penalty line 4-for-4 and Daily Racing Form was 1-of-3. Daily Racing Form led in fouls 15-7. The teams were equal in throw-ins with 11.
Gonzalito Pieres leads the team in goals with 14 and is 10-of-12 in penalty shots. Nico Pieres has 12 goals, Andrade has eight and Ganzi has three. Flexjet is shooting 40.3 percent from he field and 75 percent at the penalty line.
Valiente (4-0) (Bob Jornayvaz, 2, Tommy Beresford, 4, Facundo Pieres, 10, Adolfo Cambiaso, 10) advanced with a 9-8 win over Tonkawa (Jeff Hildebrand, A, Julian de Lusaretta, 7, Sapo Caset, 10, Mariano Aguerre, 9) in the other semifinal. Valiente opened the 26-goal tournament season with a 9-4 win over Colorado for the C.V. Whitney Cup and is looking to sweep all three Triple Crown tournaments.
"The idea is for Facundo to run with the ball, then he can score as many goals as we need," Cambiaso said. "Our plan is for me to give him good passes and he scores the goals. We are doing good with this plan, but we always have room for improvement."
Flexjet and Audi feature three members, brothers Gonzalito and Nico Pieres and cousin Polito Pieres, of the Ellerstina team that finished runner-up to longtime rival La Dolfina in the 124th Argentine Open.
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.
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. Audi, founded in 1909, oversees its worldwide operations from its headquarters in Ingolstadt, Bavaria, Germany and local distributorship in West Palm Beach.
USPA Polo Network is live streaming the IPC winter season with content from Wellington-based ChukkerTV.
Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique 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.
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.
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.
2018 Winter Schedule
(Subject to change because of weather and scheduling conflicts).
Saturday, 10 a.m., Top Pony 12-Goal Handicap Final: Valiente vs. Beverly Equestrian at Valiente; 1:30 p.m.,Top Pony 12-Goal Final, Patagones vs Skaneateles at GCPC#1.
Saturday, 4 p.m. John T. Oxley Memorial Cup Final, Travieso vs. Palm Beach Polo/Palm Beach Equine at GCPC#2.
Sunday, 10:30 a.m., Limited Edition 8-Goal Series Final: Patagones vs. Grand Champions/CrossFit El Cid at Patagones.
APRIL 3-8: WCT Finals; APRIL 1-18: Las Acacias 4-8 Goal; APRIL 1-14: $100,000 World Cup (0-40); APRIL 12-21: USPA National President's Cup.
April 3-8, Sunny Hale's Legacy, WCT Finals at Grand Champions.
Saturday, 10 a.m., PTF Florida Junior Committee Coaching Chukkers, The Polo School, at Pony Express.