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World Polo League Kicks Off Historic Sixth Season Saturday With All-Star Challenge At Grand Champions; Travieso Plays Kaia Polo In Opener

WELLINGTON, Fla., February 15, 2024---The World Polo League opens its sixth season Saturday at Grand Champions Polo Club.

By Sharon Robb

Photos by Candace Ferreira

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

The star-studded league has attracted some of the world's top players including 10-goalers Pablo MacDonough, Jeta Castagnola and Juan Martin Nero, 9-goalers Juan Martin Zubia, Sapo Caset and Gonzalito Pieres, 7-goaler Alejandro Novillo Astrada and hometown favorite Nic Roldan, the second highest ranked American at 8 goals.

The world-class league will run through April 21. The World Polo League is about the preservation of the highest level of polo and its rich, hallowed tradition in United States polo The WPL has its own set of simpler fan-friendly rules to improve the flow of the game and world-class umpires led by Gaston Dorignac.

In the season-opener Saturday at 11 a.m., Travieso plays Kaia Polo at GCPC's Field 3.

The WPL, created in 2019, filled a void left when the U.S. Polo Association, the sport's governing body, announced it was lowering high goal polo to 18-22 goals and would not have 26-goal polo.

Among the star-studded lineup of players is  MacDonough, who earned the Gonzalo Heguy Most Valuable Player Award at the 130th Argentine Open which his team, La Natividad, won with an impressive 13-10 victory over Adolfo Cambiaso-led La Dolfina Saudi.

La Natividad teammate and fellow 10-goaler Jeta Castagnola returns to the WPL after winning the Javier Novillo Astrada Award as top scorer of the Argentine Open with 38 goals.

All-Star Challenge defending champion Casablanca heads a field of eight teams. Sponsors and teams are:

Alegria (25): Sugar Erskine, 6, Jason Crowder, 5, Pipe Vercellino, 7, Freddie Mannix, 7.

Audi (26): Marc Ganzi, 1, Jeta Castagnola, 10, Nic Roldan, 8, Pancho Bensadon, 7.

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

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

La Irenita (25): Gilberto Sayao, 0, Gonzalito Pieres, 9, Pablo MacDonough, 10, Tomacho Pieres, 6.

Maltese Falcons (23): Melissa Ganzi, 0, Martin Jauregui, 6, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 7, Juan Martin Nero, 10.

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

Travieso (25): Teo Calle, 1, Tincho Merlos, 7, Nacho Novillo Astrada, 8, Juan Martin Zubia, 9.

The WPL tournaments attract a large international field of players from all corners of the world including Argentina, India, Mexico,  Canada, Ecuador, Brazil, England, Germany, Uruguay, South Africa, Venezuela, Chile, and England.

Last year Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, 3, Tomacho Pieres, 6, Barto Castagnola, 10, Jesse Bray, 7) started off the eight-team tournament as underdogs and finished as champions.

Casablanca posted an impressive 14-9 victory over 2021 champion and tournament favorite Richard Mille (Gilberto Sayao, 0, Gonzalito Pieres, 9, Pablo MacDonough, 10, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 7). Argentine 10-goaler Barto Castagnola was named Most Valuable Player after scoring a game-high 11 goals.



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