Grand Champions, Audi Win In Triple Crown Of Polo Openers; Juan Martin Nero MVP; WPL Action Resumes Wednesday With Two Games

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WELLINGTON, Fl., April 1, 2019----Grand Champions, seeking its second tournament title in the inaugural World Polo League, won its Triple Crown of Polo opener Sunday at Grand Champions Polo Club.

In a hardfought battle, Grand Champions (Grant Ganzi, 3, Juancito Bollini, 4, Rodrigo Andrade, 9, Juan Martin Nero, 10) held on for a thrilling 9-8 victory over WPL (Poroto Cambiaso, 3, Guillermo Terrera, 8, Agustin Nero, 6, Diego Cavanagh, 9), making its league debut.

"That was a very tough team and we had to be a four-man team to beat them," Nero said. "We played really well today. It's always important to win the first game in a tournament like this with so many good teams.

"Grant and Juancito played really well and did a really good job in the front," Nero said. "Ro was amazing. We were happy that we win and now we have Audi in the second game."

Nero scored a team-high six goals including three penalty conversions and was named Most Valuable Player.

Ganzi had two goals and Andrade added one. For WPL, Diego Cavanagh led scoring with a team-high six goals. Agustin Nero and Terrara each had one goal.

After a scoreless opening chukker, Grand Champions, winners of the Founders Cup, were quicker to the ball and controlled most of the game. Grand Champions led by as many as three goals in the fourth (7-4) and fifth (8-5) chukkers.

"I think this was probably our most important game of the bracket," Bollini said. "We're all happy to be done with it. When I saw their roster, I knew we would be running a lot. They are very good. I'm very, very happy to win our first game. They don't miss a ball and they have fast horses."

WPL featured 13-year-old Poroto Cambiaso, son of polo great Adolfo Cambiaso, coming off 16 and 12-goal tournament wins this past week.

"This was a really big win, we needed it," Ganzi said. "We needed to come out strong. We had to play disciplined. That was an intense game. I love this team and I feel we are getting better with every game."

The Grand Champions Best Playing Pony was Spider, played by Cambiaso.

The American Polo Horse Association Best Playing Pony was Muneca played by Juan Martin Nero.

The American Polo Horse Association 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.

In the morning game at Jan Pamela Field, Audi (Marc Ganzi, 2, Nic Roldan, 8, Pablo MacDonough, 10, Kris Kampsen, 6) won its opener with a 16-15 victory over Mandarina (Melissa Ganzi, 0, Alfredo Bigatti, 8, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 8, Pablo Spinacci, 6). 

Audi had to overcome Mandarina's 5-0 lead on handicap. By the third chukker, Audi evened the score at 9-9 on Ganzi's 30-yard penalty conversion and went ahead 10-9 on Kampsen neck shot right before the half.

The teams battled back and forth in the second half. Audi led 12-11 after the fourth and 13-12 after the fifth. The teams were even 3-3 in the final chukker with Kampsen scoring the winning goal. 

For Audi, Ganzi and Pablo MacDonough shared scoring honors each with five goals. Roldan had four goals and Kampsen added two.

Melissa Ganzi led Mandarina with a game-high seven goals. Astrada had two goals and Spinacci added one. 

Two games are scheduled for Wednesday. At 11 a.m., the Bracket A losers, Alegria and Black Watch will play and at 4 p.m. the winners in Bracket A, J5 Equestrian rivals Colorado and Valiente will face off. The fields will be announced on Tuesday.

The WPL is being live streamed on ESPN Deportes and ChukkerTV/Polo Channel/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 set for Friday, April 5 at a site and time to be determined. Valiente (Bob Jornayvaz, Mia Novillo Astrada, Mia Cambiaso, Adolfo Cambiaso) will play Audi (Marc Ganzi, Pablo MacDonough/Juan Martin Nero, Nina Clarkin, Mili Sanchez).

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.