WELLINGTON, Fla., February 4, 2019---The stage is set for the semifinal round of the prestigious Sterling Cup.
In second day action Sunday at Valiente Polo Farm, Colorado (Rob Jornayvaz, 2, Nick Johnson, 3, Diego Cavanagh, 9, Santi Torres, 6) came from behind to defeat Santa Clara (Lucas Escobar, 1, Nino Obregon, 6, Cubi Toccalino, 8, Luis Escobar, 5), 9-8.
Defending champion Valiente (Bautista Panelo, 3, Robertito Zedda, 4, Poroto Cambiaso, 3, Adolfo Cambiaso, 10) opened its title defense with a 14-9 victory over Sebucan (Pablo Pulido, 2, Jero del Carril, 7, Tommy Biddle, 5, Juan Bollini, 5).
On Wednesday, Colorado will face Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, 3, Tony Calle, 3, Juan Martin Nero, 10, Juancito Bollini, 4) at 11 a.m. Audi (Mia Cambiaso, 2, Marc Ganzi, 3, Juan Martin Zubia, 7, Nic Roldan, 8) will take on Valiente at 3 p.m. in a rematch of last year's championship final. The winners advance into Saturday's final at 3 p.m. at Grand Champions.
In the opening game, Santa Clara had the advantage with one game under its belt and jumped out to a 3-0 lead early in the second chukker.
Colorado, playing together for the first time, needed two chukkers to find its gameplan, chemistry and momentum. Jornayvaz and Johnson were also coming off a quick turnaround after losing a hardfought 9-8 final to Newport in the Limited Edition 12-Goal Series final the day before.
Colorado found its game late in the second and third chukkers reeling off three unaswered goals to tie at halftime, 3-3. The lead changed hands four times in the fourth and fifth chukkers before Colorado regained its momentum in the final chukker, outscoring Santa Clara, 3-1, with goals from Jornayvaz, Torres and Cavanagh.
"We didn't play a team practice before so we started a bit slow," Cavanaugh said. "We needed a few chukkers to get some rhythm. We had a really good fourth chukker and the last one. The last chukker we came back strong and scored the goals.
"Santa Clara is a great team, it is hard to believe they are 0-2," Cavanagh said. "They had played a game so they had more rhythm than us. Every game is really tight. This is the first time we played together but we really had fun."
Cavanagh is using the Sterling Cup to get into shape for the inaugural 26-goal World Polo League which makes its debut this week. Cavanagh is playing with Colorado's Rob Jornayvaz, Juan Martin Zubia and Jero del Carril.
"The World Polo League is important but we are going to take this Sterling Cup serious, too," Cavanaugh said. "Then we will think about the World Cup."
Cavanagh scored a game-high five goals. Jornayvaz added two goals and Torres had one. For Santa Clara, Luis Escobar had a team-high three goals. Toccalino had two goals, Obregon and Lucas Escobar each had one goal.
VALIENTE 14, SEBUCAN 9
Against Sebucan, one Cambiaso was good, but two Cambiasos was greater for fans excited to watch the future of polo.
The lopsided victory was special for Cambiaso, the world's top polo player rated at 10 goals, playing with his talented 13-year-old son Poroto, already rated at 3 goals.
Cambiaso, who scored two goals, watched his son score a game-high six goals including one in the opening chukker on a 200-yard run weaving through defenders to goal.
"It's always fun to play with your son," Cambiaso said. "I didn't say much to him. He has developed a lot compared to last year. One year is a lot and next year he is going to be even better. He needs some weight. He has good thinking, now he needs to get some weight."
The father and son duo will make it a real family affair on Wednesday when they play Audi featuring Cambiaso's 14-year-old daughter Mia.
"It's fun playing with and against my kids, it's a good experience," Cambiaso said. "The good thing is we are playing against each other so it will be fun. I like to win so we will see."
In 2012, at age seven, Poroto Cambiaso made his debut at the Palermo Field, hallowed site of the Argentine Open. At 13, he is the youngest player in the Sterling Cup.
In last year's Sterling Cup Adolfo, Mia and Poroto Cambiaso made history by winning their first ever high goal tournament together. Along with teammate Magoo Laprida, Valiente knocked off pre-tournament favorite Audi (Marc Ganzi, Henry Porter, Nic Roldan, Nico Pieres), 10-4, in the final. Mia Cambiaso was MVP.
Also scoring for Valiente in Sunday's game was Zedda with four goals and Panelo with two goals. Biddle had a game-high five goals for Sebucan. Cornell alum Pablo Pulido had two goals and del Carril added one goal.
The Sterling Cup is one of two prestigious tournaments that the nation’s busiest and most innovative polo club resurrected two years ago after a 22-year absence. It was resurrected by Grand Champions owners Melissa and Marc Ganzi in hopes of recapturing polo's glory days. It 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.
In addition to the strong field of players, the tournament is showcasing some of the best horses in the sport. Three awards will be presented: Best Playing Pony for the final game, Best Playing Pony for the tournament and the coveted American Polo Horse Association best registered horse of the game.
The APHA was created in 2006 by the legendary Polo Hall of Famer Sunny Hale to recognize polo ponies in America and encourages events that showcase them and hard-working dedication of grooms.
During the winter polo season, Grand Champions, the nation's largest and innovative USPA-sanctioned polo club, is hosting 22 tournaments: 6, 8, 12, 20, and 0 to 40 goals, WCT Finals and women's weekly league play and 26-goal World Polo League tournaments at both Grand Champions and Valiente Polo Farm.
Grand Champions tournaments attract a large international field of players from all corners of the world including India, Mexico, New Zealand, Chile, Costa Rica, Argentina, Canada, Ecuador, Brazil, Switzerland, France, Germany, Uruguay, Azerbaijan, South Africa, Nigeria, Venezuela and England.
Season highlights for 2019 are the Sterling Cup, March 1-31 $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament, March 1-16 John T. Oxley Memorial and March 3-24 $100,000 World Cup Tournament, a unique 0-40-goal, winner-take-all single-elimination tournament.
The biggest highlight of the season is the debut of the Feb. 5-April 15 World Polo League, the nation's only 26-goal league featuring some of the world's top players and team sponsors at Grand Champions and Valiente Polo Farm. The WPL will fill the void created when the U.S. Polo Association, the sport's governing body, announced it was lowering high goal polo to 18-22 goals at International Polo Club and would not have 26-goal polo and instead feature the Gauntlet Polo Series with the C.V. Whitney Cup, USPA Gold Cup and U.S. Open. The WPL will hold its draft and draw party on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Valiente. The public is welcome.
Grand Champions and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique 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 three polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation including one field for stick-and-ball with plans to build more polo fields in the future.
Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm caters to men, women and youth polo players at all levels and ages. 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, created by Grand Champions President Melissa Ganzi when the club first opened.
The Polo School, a stand-alone USPA-sanctioned polo club, is thriving. It is dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grass roots youth. Its mission is to provide individuals opportunities in polo at every economic and ability level. Scholarships are available. The Polo School operates in Wellington January through June and September through November. Headed by Director of Operations Juan Bollini, The Polo School has nurtured several men and women polo players now playing in the pro and amateur ranks since its inception.