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Pilot Makes World Polo League Debut, Plays Casablanca In Thursday Opener

WELLINGTON, Fla., March 13, 2024--Pilot, led by 10-goaler Facundo Pieres, will make its World Polo League debut in the Palm Beach Open on Thursday when it plays defending champion Casablanca in the opener at Grand Champions Polo Club.


By Sharon Robb

Photos by Candace Ferreira


A record ten teams will compete in the Palm Beach Open, the third tournament of the 26-goal season.



Facundo Pieres joins six 10-goalers in the field. The other 10-goalers are Hilario Ulloa, Juan Martin Nero, Adolfo Cambiaso, Poroto Cambiaso, Pablo MacDonough and Jeta Castagnola.


Pieres is ranked No. 1 in the World Polo Tour Rankings with 920 points, nine ahead of Barto Castagnola (911).


Pieres is ranked at 10 goals in the U.S., Argentina and Great Britain. He has won four Argentine Opens, six U.S. Opens, six British Opens, six Hurlingham Opens, eleven Tortugas Opens, six C.V. Whitney Cups and four Sotogrande Gold Cups among other tournaments throughout the world.



As team owner, two-time U.S. Open winner Curtis Pilot is America's top-ranked amateur, ranked eighth in the world. Last season he won the USPA Gold Cup, C.V. Whitney Cup and made it to the U.S. Open semifinal.


Sponsors and rosters are:

BRACKET ONE:  

Pilot: (26) Curtis Pilot, 0, TBA, Lucas James, 7, Facundo Pieres 10.

Kaia Polo Team: (22) Larry Austin, 0, Lerin Zubiaurre 7, Mariano Aguerre 7, Santi Tocalino 8.

Park Place: (25) Andrey Borodin 0, Joaquin Panelo 6, Juan Britos 9, Hilario Ulloa 10.


BRACKET TWO:

Casablanca: (26) Grant Ganzi, 3, Rufino Bensadon, 8, Sapo Caset, 9, Hilario Figueras, 6.

Alegria: Sugar Erskine, 6, TBA, Tincho Merlos, 7, Fred Mannix, 7.

Maltese Falcons: Mia Cambiaso, 2, TBA, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 7, Adolfo or Poroto Cambiaso, 10.


BRACKET THREE:

Senvest: (22) Rob / Richard Mashaal, 0, Facundo Llosa, 7, Magoo Laprida, 8, Pedro Falabella, 7.

Travieso: (26) Tony Calle 3, Tomacho Pieres 6, Pipe Vercellino 7, Juan Martin Nero, 10.

Aspen Valley: (25) Teo Calle, 0, Pancho Bensadon, 7, Gonzalito Pieres, 9, Juan Martín Zubia, 9.

Audi: (26) Marc Ganzi, 1, Jeta Castagnola, 10, Pablo MacDonough, 10, TBA 5.



Two brackets of three will play across, one bracket of four plays within. The cross bracket will have a full rank and the top two teams advance straight to the semifinals. The top team in the four team bracket will also advance. Then third place from cross bracket and second place from four-team play a playoff match for the final semifinal spot. This tournament will be played using handicaps.


In last year's Palm Beach Open Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, 3, Tomacho Pieres, 6, Barto Castagnola, 10, Jesse Bray, 7) held on for a 14-13 victory over Dead End (Evan White, Jr., 1, Pedro Falabella, 7, Magoo Laprida, 8/Gringo Colombres, 7, Facu Llosa, 7), 14-13. It was Casablanca's second WPL title of the season.



For the second time in two tournaments, Argentine 10-goaler Barto Castagnola was Most Valuable Player. The playmaker scored a team-high six goals and had some clutch plays in the final minutes to clinch the game.


The WPL, the winter season's biggest highlight, continues to make history as the only 26-goal polo played outside of Argentina.

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