$100,000 World Cup Tournament Presented By Audi Resumes Tuesday At Grand Champions

By Sharon Robb

 Nina Clarkin

Nina Clarkin

WELLINGTON, Fl., April 10, 2018---Defending champion Palm Beach Illustrated and tournament favorite GSA remain alive headed into Tuesday's quarterfinal round of the $100,000 World Cup presented by Audi at Grand Champions Polo Club.

Three games are scheduled for Tuesday including a game that features an all-woman team led by 10-goaler Nina Clarkin of Great Britain. 

Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, A, Nico Pieres, 8, Gonzalito Pieres,9, Rodrigo Andrade, 9) plays GSA (Kristos Magrini, 1, Santino Magrini, 3, Henry Porter, 2, Toro Ruiz, 5) at 10 a.m.; Coca-Cola (Gillian Johnston, 2, Hope Arellano, 0, Nina Clarkin, 3, Mia Cambiaso, 5) plays Palm Beach Illustrated (Peco Polledo, 6, Carlitos Gracida, 4, Tommy Collingwood, 5, Juan Monteverde, 5) at 1 p.m. and Grand Champions Polo Club (Grant Ganzi, 2, Juancito Bollini, 4, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 8, Juan Martin Nero, 10) plays Valiente (Mariano Gracida, 4, Roberto Zedda, 4, Pablo Spinacci, 6, Diego Cavanagh, 9) at 3 p.m.

The highly-anticipated tournament is showcasing the sport of polo and players at every level competing for the winner-take-all richest prize purse in the nation.

One of the sport's most prestigious tournaments attracted 12 teams from 0-to-26 goal rating. The inaugural champion was Palm Beach Illustrated, a 21-goal underdog with players Jared Zenni, Santi Torres, Agustin Obregon and Tommy Collingwood, all young, talented rising stars.

Collingwood is the only returning player off last year's winner. He will be joined by Peco Polledo, Carlitos Gracida and Juan Monteverde for a 20-goal team.

The most unique team is Coca-Cola, a 6-goal rated team featuring Gillian Johnston, Hope Arellano, Nina Clarkin and Mia Cambiaso. The team is using the men's rankings. All four players are coming off Sunday's successful Sunny Hale's Legacy WCT Final at Grand Champions.

Clarkin, rated at 10 goals in the women's ratings and Cambiaso, rated at 5 goals, were members of the winning Open Division champion Chateau D'esclans.  Johnston, rated at 6 goals, and Arellano, rated at 4 goals, were members of the winning 16-goal champion G-String/Amista Polo. As a women's rated team they total 25 goals.

In some of the earlier games, Deeridge knocked off Aspen Valley Polo Club, 10-8 in the tournament's first quarterfinal game; Valiente defeated Audi, 12-7; GSA defeated Pony Express, 16-10; Palm Beach Illustrated downed Sebucan, 18-10; and Aspen Valley Polo Club defeated Equuleus 12-10.

The tournament was resurrected by Grand Champions owners and polo players Melissa and Marc Ganzi thanks to the generosity of Glenn Straub of Palm Beach Polo, where it was last played in the late 1990s.

What makes the tournament so unique is the fact it's open to teams 0-26 goal on handicap, similar to the Copa Republica in Argentina where teams of any handicap from 0-to-40 can compete. Last year the lowest rated team was Equuleus at four goals and highest ranked teams were Orchard Hill, Audi, Valiente and Flexjet at 26 goals. The tournament also featured 10-goaler Adolfo Cambiaso playing with his son Poroto in a U.S. tournament for the first time.

In last year's final, Palm Beach Illustrated won the eight-day tournament with an impressive 13-7 victory over Valiente I.

Many players and sponsors said the tournament was a great opportunity to showcase the sport's younger players. Each player receives $25,000 in prize money. 

On April 6th, Deeridge hosted a World Cup Party for sponsors, players and family at the Wellington National Golf Club.

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. 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 by Wellington-based ChukkerTV.

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 10 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, Sunny Hale's Legacy WCT Final 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.

2018 Winter Schedule

(Subject to change because of weather and scheduling conflicts).

APRIL:

$100,000 World Cup presented by Audi: Tuesday, 10 a.m. Flexjet vs. GSA, GCPC Field 3; 1 p.m., Coca-Cola vs. Palm Beach Illustrated at Patagones; 3 p.m., Grand Champions Polo Club at Valiente; Thursday, Semifinals; Saturday, Championship final, 4 p.m.

Halo Polo 6-Goal Trophy Final, Tuesday, 4 p.m., Team Kampsen vs. Shamrock, at GCPC Field 5.

Other tournaments: Las Acacias 4-8 Goal; USPA National President's Cup.