Colorado Wins Triple Crown Of Polo Opener; Alegria Plays Valiente Saturday

26.JPG

WELLINGTON, Fl., March 30, 2019----The prestigious Triple Crown of Polo, the fourth and final tournament of the inaugural World Polo League, opened play Friday at Valiente Polo Farm.

In front of a good crowd, Colorado (Rob Jornayvaz, 2, Juan Martin Zubia, 7, Adolfo Cambiaso, 10, Jero del Carril, 7) looks to be an early tournament favorite after an impressive 21-13 victory over Black Watch (Juan Cruz Merlos, 5, Nacho Figueras, 6, Lucas Lalor 5, Juan Bollini, 5).

It was the most goals scored in a single game in the young history of the World Polo League. Colorado also avenged one of its few losses in the WPL, 8-6, To Black Watch in bracket play during the Palm Beach Open.

It was the first time Cambiaso played with Del Carril and only the second time with Zubia. The first was in Argentina against Uruguay led by Pelon Stirling.

"It was a good way to start the tournament," Cambiaso said. "We didn't play great, we are trying to find a system. I didn't think about the game at 6-0, we were just trying to find out the way we play. That was my thinking. I knew if we played well we could score a lot of goals. This team has much more potential."

Black Watch opened with a 6-0 lead on handicap and Lalor scored with 4:07 left in the opening chukker for a 7-0 advantage. Colorado scored three goals in the first to trail 7-3.

"It's definitely not good when you start the game 6-0 and the first chukker they score on you and it's 7-0, and you're, okay, this is going to be a long game," Jornayvaz said. "We were a little relaxed coming into it at first but then we started getting structure and by the second half we were focused. We weren't playing the best we possibly could have, but it was good. I really enjoy playing with these guys.

"We have a solid team," Jornayvaz said. "There is more horsepower on this team which definitely helps. Jero and Juanma were playing super serious today. Obviously, when Adolfo jumps on the field it makes you really focus a lot more."

As many times as Jornayvaz and Cambiaso have played with and against each other in games and practice, Jornayvaz is amazed at the 10-goaler's talent and field leadership.

"He sees the game better than anyone else," Jornayvaz said. "He makes everyone better by coaching on the field and explaining what to do and the right plays. It makes you relaxed in one sense because you have less to think about when you're on the field because he is doing all the thinking for you as a team. He brings out the best in people. Whenever he gets the ball the entire other team looks at him so it gives all of us a bit of extra time on the field because everyone is looking at him. It is the Adolfo effect."

Behind Cambiaso, Colorado quickly made up the deficit, outscoring Black Watch, 6-2, in the second chukker to tie the game 9-9 with 34 seconds left when Cambiaso got the throw-in and raced to goal. 

Colorado scored three unanswered goals for a 12-9 lead before Black Watch recovered and Merlos scored to trail only 12-10 at the half.

With more horsepower and firepower, Colorado extended its lead to 17-10 after shutting out Black Watch 5-0 in the fourth chukker. Colorado outscored Black Watch, 4-3, in the final two chukkers.

"I am happy with the win," Cambiaso said. "We have to improve but it's better to improve while you are winning than when you are losing."

Asked whether Colorado is a tournament favorite, Cambiaso answered, "Why not?"

At 56, former 8-goaler Juan Bollini made history as the oldest player to make his World Polo League debut. 

The cancer survivor last played 26-goal polo in the 2008 Gold Cup. Before that Bollini played against Martin Zubia at the now defunct Royal Palm Polo Sports Club in Boca Raton. Now more than 20 years later he played against his 19-year-old son Juan Martin Zubia.

"He did amazing," Cambiaso said. "He is really fit. It is amazing how fit he is. He is in the gym every day. He does the right things to beat you and he knows how to play polo." 

Bollini was diagnosed with colon cancer on June 2, 2016 after undergoing a colonoscopy. Since his full recovery he has been an inspiration to his family, friends and students at The Polo School where he is director and head instructor. 

"We played as hard as we could," Bollini said. "I came out with my horses and they were not ready to play at this level after playing 12-goal. It wasn't a battle out there and I am getting close to 60, but I do whatever it takes to help this new league, Marc and Melissa (Ganzi) and this organization.

"I love the game and I love to compete," Bollini said. "At my age trying to compete against the best ever is something you don't see every day. Just to compete at this level is a plus. To come back from cancer where I am now, I can't be more pleased with my career or my life. I also appreciate Marc and Melissa to allow me to do this. They believe in this league and they love polo." 

Cambiaso and Zubia shared scoring honors for Colorado, each with seven goals. Del Carril had five goals and Jornayvaz added two goals.

Merlos led Black Watch with three goals. Lalor had two goals. Figueras and Bollini each had one goal.

On Saturday, Alegria, coming off its Molina Cup victory against Valiente, will open up against Valiente at 4 p.m. at Valiente Polo Farm Field One. On Sunday, two games are scheduled. At 10 a.m., Mandarina plays Audi at Jan Pamela Field 3 and in the 4 p.m. feature game at Grand Champions Polo Club Field 2, WPL plays Grand Champions.

The WPL is being live streamed on ESPN Deportes and ChukkerTV/Horseplay with Gus Whitelaw calling the action. For more information go to www.worldpolo.org.

Co-founded by Grand Champions owners Melissa and Marc Ganzi and Valiente Polo Farm owner Bob Jornayvaz, the World Polo League is the only 26-goal polo in the world outside of Argentina. The WPL is preserving the highest level of polo and its rich, hallowed tradition in the U.S. 

The WPL has its own set of simpler fan-friendly rules to improve the flow and action of the game.

The WPL, with tournament-quality fields to play on, features the All-Star Challenge Draw Tournament, Founders Cup, Palm Beach Open and Triple Crown of Polo. The WPL is open to teams that wish to compete in one or more of the tournaments. Games are offered on the flat (Open) and on Handicap.

The World Polo League has attracted a large international field of players from all corners of the world  including  Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Nigeria, New Zealand, Uruguay and U.S.

Grand Champions and Valiente are also launching the U.S. National Mixed Doubles Championship, featuring two men and two women with combined handicaps this month.

In addition to the World Polo League, season highlights for 2019 at Grand Champions are the Sterling Cup, $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament, John T. Oxley Memorial and $100,000 World Cup Tournament, a unique 0-40-goal, winner-take-all single-elimination tournament and WCT Finals.

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.