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Maltese Falcons Soar To Sterling Cup Tournament Victory; Alejandro Novillo Astrada Named MVP

WELLINGTON, Fla., April 29, 2024---Maltese Falcons defeated Audi and Newport to capture the Sterling Cup Sunday at windy Grand Champions Polo Club.

By Sharon Robb

Photos by Candace Ferreira

On the final day of a two-day round robin, Maltese Facons (Melissa Ganzi, 0, Grant Ganzi, 3, Nic Roldan, 8, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 7) defeated Audi (Marc Ganzi, 1, Tomacho Pieres, 6, Pablo Spinacci, 6, Tommy Collingwood, 5), 9-6, and Newport (Gene Goldstein, 0, Jason Crowder, 5, Sugar Erskine, 6, Fred Mannix, 7), 14-13, to clinch the title.

Glenn Straub presented the prestigious solid gold trophy to the winners during the awards presentation.

The win marked the first time a mother-son duo won the Sterling Cup. They combined for seven goals on the final day. Melissa Ganzi finished with 11 for the tournament. It was the second historical tournament in a row for Melissa and Grant Ganzi. They also won the USPA Butler Handicap.

"I wanted to win it a little more than normal for that reason," Grant Ganzi said. "To win both tournaments with my mom is special and a unique opportunity."

Argentine 7-goaler Alejandro Novillo Astrada was Most Valuable Player.

Buttons, played by Melissa Ganzi and owned by Santa Rita Polo Farm, was the Grand Champions Best Playing Pony. The 13-year-old chestnut mare was bred by Joey Casey of Palm City Polo Club.

Yatay Tofi, a 9-year-old bay mare played by Pablo Spinacci and also owned by Santa Rita Polo Farm, was the American Polo Horse Association Best Playing Pony.

The victory was determined by net goals. Maltese Falcons finished with plus-two, Audi with zero and Newport with minus-two.

"It is a great tournament with a lot of tradition," Grant Ganzi said. "It's a great trophy that was played at the high goal level. A lot of great players are on it including Adolfo Cambiaso and Sebastian Merlos. A lot of very talented players have won it. It's definitely nice to win a trophy that has that much history and prestige."

The scores carried over from Friday's opening day action. Audi, with Santos Bollini playing for Marc Ganzi, defeated Newport, 4-2. Spinacci led scoring with two goals. Newport defeated Maltese Falcons, 7-6. Goldstein led with three goals and Mannix added two. Roldan and Melissa Ganzi each had two goals. In the third match, Maltese Falcons defeated Audi, 7-5. Melissa Ganzi had three goals.

"It was a tough tournament to win," Grant Ganzi said. "Luckily, we were able to win it. It was super competitive. It was anyone's game up until the end."

The Sterling Cup was resurrected eight years ago after a 22-year absence. It was brought back by Grand Champions President Melissa Ganzi in hopes of recapturing polo’s glory days.

It was the second tournament of the 22-goal season at the old Palm Beach Polo and Country Club after the January Challenge Cup and last played in 1995. It was considered the 22-goal championship and attracted as many as 18 teams including Saniva B.G.K., Pegasus, C.S. Brook, Grant’s Farm Manor, Revlon, Calumet Farm, Pony Express, Isla Carroll, White Birch and Catamount.

The 2023 winner was Scone, for the second time in three years. Scone (Sarah Siegel Magness, 0, Cody Ellis, 4, Poroto Cambiaso, 9, Pelon Stirling, 9).



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