Category Archives: Polo

Lechuza Caracas Makes Its Mark in US Open, Defeats Defending Champion Alegria Assist Card

Hilario Ulloa and Nico Pieres. Photos: Alex Pacheco.

Wellington, FL – March 29, 2015 – The U.S. Open Polo Championship continued in full force Sunday, with an exciting triple play at the International Polo Club Palm Beach. In all three games, a single point dictated the outcome, and two games went into overtime.

In the featured match on Engel & Völkers field, Lechuza Caracas defeated Alegria Assist Card 13-12 in overtime. Agustin Garcia Grossi was named Most Valuable Player. Hilario Ulloa’s mount in the second and sixth chukkers, Clave, was Best Playing Pony.

Earlier in the day, Orchard Hill took a 15-14 overtime victory over Valiente, and Audi defeated FlexJet 11-10.

For a winning team, polo is a game played as much in the head as it is on the field. Lechuza Caracas put that principle into action Sunday when it stared down the mighty Alegria Assist Card team, defending champion of the U.S. Open. Taking a gamble (and a leap of faith) that paid off in spades, Lechuza Caracas won by hedging its bets on a strategic move: scrambling the lineup.

That move has worked at times for other teams, but it is risky business. Just ask Agustin Garcia Grossi. “We’re lucky we scored the last goal,” he said moments after he made the hit that broke the 12-12 tie in overtime.

Granted, Lady Luck is always hovering over the polo field, but Sunday another intangible force was at work. Playing a mind game as much as an athletic one, the Lechuza Caracas squadron took out its opponent by turning polo into a shell game. The question of the day was: Is that Nico Pieres or Agustin Garcia Grossi under those Foster Grants?

In an eleventh-hour switcheroo that had even the announcers guessing for a bit, Lechuza Caracas swapped the positions of two of its key players. The decision was made so shortly before the start of the game that the program and the scoreboard still showed them in their old positions. But Pieres, who usually plays number two, was wearing the number three jersey, and Grossi, the team’s steadfast number three, was sporting a two on his back.

The reason became evident soon enough. Pieres was all over the ball, the field and the scoreboard from start to finish. The high-scorer of the game with nine goals, he was omnipresent throughout the match, scoring at least one point (and sometimes three) in every chukker of regulation play. Almost without exception, his success was facilitated by Grossi, who made it his perpetual mission to mow a path for Pieres to carry the ball through.

Why did this strategy work better than the original formula, when Pieres was playing number two and Garcia number three?

“The change of positions helped us a lot because we can send Flaco (Grossi) forward. He’s more powerful than me,” said Pieres. “Then I could work with the ball more, and I’m a bit better at that.”

The impetus for the change, said the two, was the team’s disappointment over its record this season in 26-goal play. “We changed the lineup because we didn’t do so well in the last tournament,” said Grossi, referring to the USPA Piaget Gold Cup. Lechuza Caracas had one win and three losses in that tournament and was knocked out of contention in the quarterfinals.

There were no signs of the past in Sunday’s game. Lechuza Caracas came onto the field with the eye of the tiger. At every possible opportunity, one or another of its players pounced upon the ball as though it were live prey. Alegria Assist Card showed a similar resolve, but it seemed to be tinged with a touch of uncertainty about how to thwart the newly invigorated and restructured Lechuza Caracas band of brothers.

Pieres, who scored the first field goal, stormed onto the field with a steely-eyed look that could knock the breath out of an elephant. With consummate speed and power – and with Grossi running interference – he cut to the center and outran a herd of defenders to tie the game at 1-all. That set the tone for the rest of the game. Pieres and Grossi melded into a tag team, keeping Alegria scoreless in the second chukker and bringing Lechuza Caracas into the lead for the first time in the third chukker. Picking up a long pass downfield from Pieres, Grossi made a supremely confident cutshot that rolled the ball in within inches of the goalpost, moving Lechuza Caracas into a 5-4 lead.

Alegria Assist Card retook the lead courtesy of Hilario Ulloa, who scored on a penalty shot. Moments before, Mariano Aguerre had sent a centering shot to Ulloa, which drew a whistle, and a foul was called in favor of Alegria Assist Card. In what seemed on its face a curious move (but turned out not to be), Alegria Assist Card challenged the call on ball placement. Had it been successful, the challenge would have changed the penalty two to a penalty one (an automatic goal for Alegria Assist Card). The call stood, and Ulloa scored on the penalty two, giving Alegria a 6-5 lead at the end of the first half.

The pace picked up decidedly in the second half. Taking the ball on the nearside, Sterling Giannini worked the room with finesse, zigzagging like mad to get past the defenders and deliver the ball to Ulloa. With a burst of speed, Ulloa ran it into goal, giving Alegria Assist Card a two-point lead. Juan Martin Nero, the only 10-goaler on the field, outran Julian Mannix and sent a slick pass to Pieres, who rode his speed stick toward goal and swatted in a pinpoint shot. Pieres followed up his own act in the fifth chukker, making three goals (two of them from the field).

In Ping-Pong fashion, the score swapped back and forth between a tie and a one-point lead for most of the sixth chukker. At a pivotal juncture, a Pieres play drew a whistle smack in front of Alegria’s goalmouth, resulting in a penalty one for Alegria. Lechuza Caracas unsuccessfully challenged the automatic goal.

With just 47 seconds left in regulation play, a penalty three was moved to a penalty two in favor of Alegria Assist Card. Ulloa took the shot and tied the game at 12-all, sending it into overtime. The seventh chukker went on for an excruciating two-and-a-half minutes until Grossi sealed the deal for Lechuza Caracas.

Nero said he felt there was more to his team’s win than its lineup change. Although he agreed that the Pieres-Grossi swap-out had been helpful, he also pointed to Lechuza Caracas’ intense preparation during the previous week. Even more crucial, he said, was Sunday’s outstanding performance by the team’s captain, Victor Vargas, who played his normal number one position.

“Today the key was Victor,” said Nero. “He made a big difference. They couldn’t pass him. He kept them away so we could score.”

Orchard Hill Overcomes Valiente 15-14 in a Game of Endurance

The highly anticipated show down between 10-goalers Adolfo Cambiaso (Valiente) and Facundo Pieres (Orchard Hill) came to an abrupt end 35 seconds into the first U.S. Open match for both teams when Cambiaso retired from the match with a hip injury. Sapo Caset, also rated 10 goals, replaced Cambiaso and performed admirably in his understudy role, challenging Facundo and galvanizing Valiente to a sixth chukker comeback to force overtime, but after all the delays, lineup changes, lead changes and injuries, Orchard Hill prevailed 15-14 over Valiente.

Sapo Caset and Facundo Pieres
Sapo Caset and Facundo Pieres

“That was the longest game I have ever played!” declared a weary Steve van Andel after the match. “That was a tough game. It was back and forth; they did a good job staying on us.”

When asked about the substitution of Caset for the injured Cambiaso, Facundo Pieres commented, “It was a bit of a change, but we know how they play. They played without so much pressure, which I think helped them, especially Alejo and Terrera, and they complicated us. With all the delays we couldn’t play the game we wanted, but we are happy we won.”

There was a long delay at the start of the match while the injured Cambiaso determined if he could play or not, the delay and roster change for Valiente seemed to throw both teams off their rhythm in the first two chukkers. Caset and Facundo Pieres dueled it out from the penalty line, Caset even converting a 90-yard penalty five which is a rare feat in polo, but the goals came slow for both teams and the score was only 4- 3 in favor of Valiente after the second chukker. Play opened up in the third chukker as the Valiente team started to click with Caset. Guillermo Terrera tallied a pair of field goals for Valiente, and Bob Jornayvaz added another when he anticipated a broken play near goal. Orchard Hill countered with field goals from Polito Pieres and Ezequiel Ferrario sandwiched around another penalty four conversion by Facundo.

Orchard Hill erased the Valiente lead in the fourth chukker behind two more penalty four conversions from Facundo Pieres. Some strong blocking from the Orchard Hill players led to a splendid run by Facundo on a blaze faced chestnut. Valiente held steady with two goals, the teams entered the fifth chukker tied at 9-all.

The fifth chukker was all Orchard Hill. Facundo Pieres continued his sharp shooting success from the 60-yard line on penalty fours and cousin Polito chimed in with a gutsy field goal through traffic. Play was held up again when Alejo Taranco hit the ground after a collision, but Orchard Hill kept the momentum rolling to finish out the chukker in the lead 12-9.

Valiente showed determination in the face of adversity in the sixth, relentlessly driving the ball down field and forcing Orchard Hill into a penalty one situation. After Valiente was awarded the automatic goal on the penalty one, Caset stole the ball on the ensuing throw in and quickly turned and fired to bring Valiente within one goal of the lead. Facundo Pieres countered with his seventh penalty four conversion of the game, but Caset rose to the occasion and scored two more penalty goals to send the game to sudden death overtime with the score tied at 14 all.

The Orchard Hill team won the first bowl in, delivered the ball and a horse length’s head start to Facundo Pieres. He did what he does better than anyone in the world and ran the ball down field to goal for the win.

“Fortunately we squeaked through in the end!” said a relieved van Andel post match. Orchard Hill will take a 1-0 record into their next U.S. Open match against Las Monjitas on Sunday April 5 at International Polo Club Palm Beach.

Facundo Pieres was already thinking about the next match. “It was so important to win the first game of the Open; now we prepare to play our game for the next match.”

Audi Speeds Past FlexJet 11-10

Grant Ganzi and Rodrigo Andrade
Grant Ganzi and Rodrigo Andrade

Audi defeated FlexJet 11-10 in bracket play in the U.S. Open Polo Championship at the International Polo Club Palm Beach. The match pit Marc Ganzi of the Audi team, last week’s victors of the Piaget Gold Cup, against his son, Grant Ganzi, each rated one-goal.

Both teams came out swinging, with goal attempts going wide for Audi and FlexJet. A penalty conversion by Miguel Astrada put FlexJet on the board with the first goal of the match. A neckshot by Gonzalito Pieres evened out the score. Rodrigo Andrade quickly drilled a long shot along the ground to put Audi in the lead. Tough, quick play ensued by both teams, which would characterize the play throughout the match.

In the second chukker, FlexJet fired back with a stolen ball by Nic Roldan breaking up an Audi play, and Astrada capitalized on it. He flipped in a goal under pressure and made the score 2-all. Pieres, always the cool customer, picked the ball from Astrada and drove a goal in to put Audi back in the lead. Roldan and Astrada teamed up, showing off their excellent passing game with supreme confidence, resulting in a goal by Astrada.

Roldan followed up with another assist, this time to Laprida, putting FlexJet ahead by one. Fred Mannix kicked it into high gear and dribbled the ball into the goalmouth, with Andrade backing him up to make the goal. Roldan fired off a signature long pass for Laprida who scored another goal for FlexJet, making the score 5-4 at the end of the second chukker.

After some fierce play at the top of the third chukker, a penalty conversion by Pieres tied the score 5-5. FlexJet quickly racked up two more goals in an effort to solidify their lead before the end of the half. Pieres rocketed out of the throw-in with a score that brought Audi within one at the end of the third chukker.

Audi revved it up in the third chukker, starting out strong with a goal by Andrade on the run. Another penalty conversion by Pieres made the score 8-7. An incredible team play by FlexJet culminated in a goal, tying the score 8-8. Intense play for the remainder of the fourth chukker had spectators guessing what the outcome of each play would be.

The fifth chukker was scoreless for the first few minutes, and it was Mannix who broke the dry spell with a near side back shot and a score for Audi. A penalty in favor of FlexJet was challenged by Audi. Each team is allowed one opportunity to challenge a call. The team may use at any time during the game to disagree with a call and ask for an instant replay. The game is stopped and the disputed play is evaluated by the instant replay judge, who makes the final decision. If the team wins its challenge, they are allowed to keep their one challenge in the game. If it loses, they are not allowed a challenge for the remainder of the game. In this case, the call was overturned and Audi retained their ability to challenge.

Roldan kicked off the sixth chukker blazing to the goal, but his attempt went wide. Laprida made a run in the next play, flipping the ball to Roldan who succeeded in this attempt and tied up the match 9-9. A penalty in favor of Audi was challenged by FlexJet but upheld, resulting in a conversion by Pieres. FlexJet continued to fight for the win, with Laprida dodging defenders to drive in a goal and tie the score with just minutes remaining. Audi responded quickly, putting the final goal in with 18 seconds before the final horn.

Both Pieres and Marc Ganzi agreed that the game was an incredibly important match for them to win, especially after their tournament win in the Piaget Gold Cup.

“Always, the first game after winning is tough because, unfortunately, you’re more relaxed and the other teams are more afraid of you, and they go for it with everything,” said Pieres.

“We knew we had to win today. It’s the first game of the [US] Open. You’ve got to go all in,” said Ganzi.

Play in the U.S. Open Polo Championship continues on Wednesday, April 1 with Valiente taking on Las Monjitas at 4 p.m. at the International Polo Club Palm Beach.

International Polo Club Palm Beach Fast Facts

What: Created by players for players, the International Polo Club Palm Beach was born out of the dream to build a facility to showcase the incredible skills of the ponies and players that dominate the sport.

Members and guests enjoy panoramic views of the action from field side box seats or lawn and terrace seating. Sponsors and fans convene at The Winners Circle to congratulate the players during the awards presentation following the games.

Gourmet brunches, après polo celebrations and the prerequisite charitable events will take place in The Pavilion, designed to accommodate large parties, corporate clients, as well as family and friends.

Featured Highlights:

Herbie Pennell Cup – 20 Goal
Jan. 1-4, 2015

Joe Barry Memorial Cup – 20 Goal
Jan. 4-25, 2015

Ylvisaker Cup – 20 Goal
Jan. 28 – February 22, 2015

Iglehart Cup – 20 Goal
Feb. 28 – March 8, 2015

USPA C. V. Whitney Cup – 26 Goal
Feb. 15 – March 1, 2015

Piaget USPA Gold Cup® – 26 Goal
March 4-22, 2015

111th Maserati U.S. Open Polo Championship® – 26 Goal
March 25 – April 19, 2015

Directions:

From the Turnpike:
Take the Lake Worth Exit
Head west on FL-802 W/Lake Worth Rd toward Hooks Rd
Continue to follow Lake Worth Rd (3.9 miles)
Turn right onto 120th Ave S
Destination will be ahead on the left (0.4 miles)

From I-95:
Exit Forest Hill Blvd, head West
Make Left turn onto 441/St Rd 7
Make Right turn onto Lake Worth Rd
Make Right turn onto 120th Ave S
Destination on Left

Information:
3667 120th Ave S, Wellington, FL 33414
International Polo Club Palm Beach: 561-204-5687
Mallet Grille: 561-282-5340
Spa & Fitness Center: 561-282-5288
Tennis Pro Shop: 561-795-7228
Polo Operations Office: 561-282-5283
Polo Hotline: 561-282-5290

Website:
www.internationalpoloclub.com

For Tickets:
http://internationalpoloclub.ticketleap.com/

Hotels:
Hampton Inn & Suites – (561) 472-9696 – Approximately 2 miles
Hampton Inn – (561) 472-5980 – Approximately 4 miles
Four Seasons Resort – (561) 582-2800 – Approximately 9 miles
The Breakers – (561) 655-6611 – Approximately 9 miles
Kimpton Tideline Ocean Resort & Spa – (561) 540-6440 – Approximately 9 miles

Management:
John Wash – President of Club Operations
jwash@internationalpoloclub.com
561-282-5353

MEDIA CONTACT:
Phelps Media Group, Inc.
12012 South Shore Blvd #105
Wellington, FL 33414
561-753-3389 (phone)
561-753-3386 (fax)
pmginfo@phelpsmediagroup.com
PhelpsMediaGroup.com

Arellano Clinches 9-8 Win for Coca-Cola, Defeats Las Monjitas in First Game of US Open

Facundo Sola and Pelon Stirling. Photos: Alex Pacheco.

Wellington, FL – March 28, 2015 – Coca-Cola defeated Las Monjitas 9-8 in the final seconds of the opening match of the 111th U.S. Open Polo Championship at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC).

In a match fraught with tension, Coca-Cola fought nonstop for the win. Arellano, a steady hand in the Coca-Cola backfield, slammed in the game-winning goal just seconds before the final horn. It was a highly physical game throughout, with ride-off after ride-off dominated by Astrada and Arellano. All the while, Stirling’s cool, calm and collected hand on the reins kept Coca-Cola’s eyes on the prize.

Both teams leapt into action from the get-go with fast and even play that characterized the entire game. When a penalty three defended shot was called in favor of Coca-Cola, Las Monjitas seized the opportunity. Eduardo Astrada blocked the shot and took it out of the Coca-Cola goalmouth, shooting a pass to Sebastian Merlos. Merlos took the ball downfield and sent a pass to Astrada, who maneuvered the ball through two Coca-Cola defenders to score.

After heavy defensive plays by Coca-Cola and some wide shots by Las Monjitas, Julio Arellano – the high-scorer of the game with seven goals – evened the score 1-1 at the end the first chukker. Pelon Stirling struck like lightning out of the first throw-in of the second chukker, driving a goal in within the first 25 seconds. A penalty conversion by Facundo Sola tied the score again.

Astrada and Sola teamed up for Sola to tap in a goal, giving Las Monjitas a momentary lead. Arellano, a consummate gamesman, shot a pass to Sugar Erskine, who scored, retying the score. In the next play, Sola wove his way through traffic to regain the lead for Las Monjitas at the end of the second chukker.

Sugar Erskine, Sebastian Merlos and Julio Arellano
Sugar Erskine, Sebastian Merlos and Julio Arellano

A penalty conversion by Arellano tied the score 4-4 at the top of to the third chukker. Power plays by both teams had spectators on the edge of their seats as both teams continually fought for control of the ball. A penalty conversion by Arellano gave Coca-Cola the lead for the first time in the game. Astrada and Sola once again demonstrated their passing game, resulting in another goal for Las Monjitas. A wide penalty shot by Stirling kept the score tied going into the second half.

A string of wide shots at the start of the fourth chukker had everyone guessing as to who would be the first to score. Astrada ended up the winner, stealing the ball from Stirling to tap in a goal and make the score 6-5. Wide shots continued to plague Coca-Cola, which was scoreless in the fourth chukker. Arellano broke that streak in the next chukker, accelerating into breakaways and dodging defenders to make two consecutive goals.

With that, Coca-Cola took charge of the game, opening up the pace and making numerous attempts on goal. A turning penalty in favor of Coca-Cola was overturned after a challenge by Las Monjitas. A conversion by Arellano put Coca-Cola back in a one-point lead at the end of the fifth chukker.

Arellano took a Coca-Cola knock-in, bringing the ball back into play and sending it downfield to Stirling, who snatched it out of the air. Stirling sent the ball along to speed demon Gillian Johnston, who took it to the goalmouth. Arellano backed her up and tapped the ball in, shifting Coca-Cola into a two-point lead. Sola responded with a goal on a nearside neckshot.

Las Monjitas won yet another challenge. Sola took off and scored out of the throw-in, tying the score 8-8. Then a center hit penalty call was challenged by both teams (one on the validity of the call and the other on ball placement) but was upheld. Coca-Cola jumped on an opportunity and ran the ball through traffic. Arellano scored the game-winning goal with 29 seconds left in regulation play.

Arellano was excited and grateful about Coca-Cola’s victory. “I’m glad we were able to pull it off because a lot of times you can’t,” he said. “In the last two chukkers, Pelon said, ‘Let’s open it up’ – and it worked.”

Erskine also credited Stirling with ruling the outcome. “Pelon controlled the whole game all by himself from the back. That’s what made the difference,” he said. “We had to play a lot of defense. We knew the game was going to be like that. They played a very controlled game, so we didn’t get to run up and down the field the way we usually do.”

Stirling agreed that stepping up the pace led to Coca-Cola’s victory.

“The way we’ve been playing this season is more open polo,” he said. “During halftime I decided to tell the boys that we were kind of playing their game, and I think that made the difference in the last two chukkers. We managed to run a little bit more and get those last two plays, which gave us an advantage.”

The U.S. Open continues Sunday, March 29 with three games at IPC. Audi opposes FlexJet at 10 a.m., followed by Orchard Hill vs. Valiente at noon. Lechuza Caracas plays Alegria Assist Card in the featured match at 3 p.m. on Engel & Völkers field.

International Polo Club Palm Beach Fast Facts

What: Created by players for players, the International Polo Club Palm Beach was born out of the dream to build a facility to showcase the incredible skills of the ponies and players that dominate the sport.

Members and guests enjoy panoramic views of the action from field side box seats or lawn and terrace seating. Sponsors and fans convene at The Winners Circle to congratulate the players during the awards presentation following the games.

Gourmet brunches, après polo celebrations and the prerequisite charitable events will take place in The Pavilion, designed to accommodate large parties, corporate clients, as well as family and friends.

Featured Highlights:

Herbie Pennell Cup – 20 Goal
Jan. 1-4, 2015

Joe Barry Memorial Cup – 20 Goal
Jan. 4-25, 2015

Ylvisaker Cup – 20 Goal
Jan. 28 – February 22, 2015

Iglehart Cup – 20 Goal
Feb. 28 – March 8, 2015

USPA C. V. Whitney Cup – 26 Goal
Feb. 15 – March 1, 2015

Piaget USPA Gold Cup® – 26 Goal
March 4-22, 2015

111th Maserati U.S. Open Polo Championship® – 26 Goal
March 25 – April 19, 2015

Directions:

From the Turnpike:
Take the Lake Worth Exit
Head west on FL-802 W/Lake Worth Rd toward Hooks Rd
Continue to follow Lake Worth Rd (3.9 miles)
Turn right onto 120th Ave S
Destination will be ahead on the left (0.4 miles)

From I-95:
Exit Forest Hill Blvd, head West
Make Left turn onto 441/St Rd 7
Make Right turn onto Lake Worth Rd
Make Right turn onto 120th Ave S
Destination on Left

Information:
3667 120th Ave S, Wellington, FL 33414
International Polo Club Palm Beach: 561-204-5687
Mallet Grille: 561-282-5340
Spa & Fitness Center: 561-282-5288
Tennis Pro Shop: 561-795-7228
Polo Operations Office: 561-282-5283
Polo Hotline: 561-282-5290

Website:
www.internationalpoloclub.com

For Tickets:
http://internationalpoloclub.ticketleap.com/

Hotels:
Hampton Inn & Suites – (561) 472-9696 – Approximately 2 miles
Hampton Inn – (561) 472-5980 – Approximately 4 miles
Four Seasons Resort – (561) 582-2800 – Approximately 9 miles
The Breakers – (561) 655-6611 – Approximately 9 miles
Kimpton Tideline Ocean Resort & Spa – (561) 540-6440 – Approximately 9 miles

Management:
John Wash – President of Club Operations
jwash@internationalpoloclub.com
561-282-5353

MEDIA CONTACT:
Phelps Media Group, Inc.
12012 South Shore Blvd #105
Wellington, FL 33414
561-753-3389 (phone)
561-753-3386 (fax)
pmginfo@phelpsmediagroup.com
PhelpsMediaGroup.com

Casablanca Marches Off with Polo Training Foundation Challenge

Matias Gonzalez of Casablanca attempts the hook on Wes Finlayson of GJ Racing. Photo by Alex Pacheco.

Wellington, FL, March 22, 2015 – From a Published Press Release – Casablanca scored the winning goal in the final two minutes to defeat Grand Champions, 3-2, to capture the Polo Training Foundation March Challenge on Monday at Everglades Polo Club.

Three teams of highly-skilled junior polo players competed in the two-hour event.

The teams were GJ Racing (Blake Ashcroft, Justin Daniels, Wes Finlayson, John Hand), Grand Champions (Juancito Bollini, Grant Ganzi, Liam Lott, Guillerhme Maia), and Casablanca (Agustin Arellano, Matias Gonzalez, Ian MacTaggart, Jack McLean).

Trailing 2-0 going after two Bollini goals, into the final chukker, Gonzalez opened the chukker with a 50-yard goal. A minute later, McLean scored to tie the game at 2-2.

After Bollini defended Gonzalez’ scoring attempt, MacTaggart came back to score the game-winner with two minutes left in regulation.

Casablanca and Grand Champions players have competed with and against each other in past tournaments.

“Our team had great chemistry on the field,” Arellano said. “It meshed really well together. We never all played together on the same team before but we all played really well together.

“Matias is a great back and crushes the ball. Jack and Ian were great with the ball pulling the team forward. I tried to help in the middle.

“We all knew everyone else who was playing and we all watch each other so we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” Arellano said.

Grand Champions’ Juancito Bollini, a sophomore at Florida Atlantic University, was named Most Valuable Player.

Arellano’s 8-year-old gray thoroughbred mare Milkshake was awarded Best Playing Pony.

“My dad had bought her as a 4-year-old and didn’t get along with her at all,” Arellano said of his father, Julio, a top American player and member of Coca-Cola’s pro team. “He let me play her a little bit and I loved her. I ended up buying her from him. She’s turned out to be my best horse.”

Arellano enjoyed playing with and against his friends.

“It’s so much fun to play against other players your age and to challenge yourself at this level,” Arellano said. “This is so fast; everyone is just running and having fun. It’s great.

“The PTF is awesome; this is what has brought me to the level I am today,” Arellano said. “It’s just amazing. They do such a good job getting all the kids out here to play.”

McLean, 14, an out-of-state player, enjoys playing against the best junior players to hone his polo skills. McLean competed in both the PTF March Challenge and Buzz Welker Memorial.

About the Polo Training Foundation

Since 1967, the Polo Training Foundation has been committed to excellence in the great sport of polo. The PTF supports polo training at all levels by providing funds for the development of current and future generations of players and umpires. The Foundation’s many programs include beginner clinics designed to teach young people the principles of polo and international player exchanges. Through its activities, the PTF seeks to encourage the highest standards of sportsmanship and to promote international good will through polo competition. For more information the website at: www.polotraining.org.

To contact the PTF:

Haley Bryan
hbryan2485@aol.com
Phone: (803) 215-3577

Jennifer McLeavy
jenniferannpoor@yahoo.com
floridajrpolo@yahoo.com
Phone: (561) 670-3616

Audi Drives Off with USPA Piaget Gold Cup

Gonzalito Pieres and Polito Pieres. Photos: Liz Lamont Images/Phelps Media Group.

Wellington, FL – March 22, 2015 – Audi triumphed over Orchard Hill 16-15 in overtime Sunday to win the 2015 USPA Piaget Gold Cup in the featured match on Engel & Völkers field at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC). It marked the second time Audi has clinched the Gold Cup, having won in 2011, also at IPC.

Gonzalito Pieres and his mount, Rosparita, were recognized for their stellar play in the 2015 final. Pieres, who made the winning goal aboard the mare, was named MVP. Rosparita, who Pieres also played in the second and sixth chukkers, received the Best-Playing Pony award for the match. The Horse of the Tournament award went to Jackie, Polito Pieres’ mount in the fourth chukker.

Earlier in the day, Coca-Cola won the Engel & Völkers Tesoro Cup, defeating Lechuza Caracas 14-11.

It all came down to a penalty shot – and the dead-eye aim of Gonzalito Pieres – to seal the deal for Audi. In an overtime fraught with more anxiety than the stands seemed able to contain, Pieres slammed in his tenth goal, taking the win with authority.

It was a déjà vu moment for Audi, which had also won the 2011 Gold Cup in overtime on a penalty shot by a Pieres. That time it was Nico Pieres, whose slot was filled this year by Freddie Mannix. Other than that, Audi’s lineup was the same Sunday as it had been in its 2011 win.

With just four seconds left in regulation play, Facundo Pieres stole the ball and tied the game at 15-all. Then came the clincher. Audi won the throw-in, but Andrade lost control of the ball. Ganzi snagged it and shot an immediate pass to Mannix, who played a very effective and aggressive number 4 throughout the match. Polito Pieres stole the ball from Mannix. The whistle sounded, with a penalty three awarded to Audi. Orchard Hill challenged the call, and officials reviewed the play on instant replay (provided by horseplay.tv, which live-streamed the game) for what felt to spectators like an eternity. Then came the ruling, which everyone knew in all likelihood would dictate the outcome of the tournament: The foul stood. Game over.

The match had begun 1-0 for Audi because of its handicap in the 26-goal tournament. For the first few chukkers both teams played very tight, almost on top of each other, to keep the opposing team from getting the line. At the end of the first chukker Audi was leading 3-1, with all the goals on the board Pieres points (Gonzalito and Facundo). The two brothers peppered the scoreboard with more points in the second. Gonzolito Pieres pulled off two equally amazing consecutive plays. In the first he jumped on a bouncing ball, bought himself some time on the outside of the pack and made a single slick shot straight into goal. In the next play he stole the ball from his cousin, Polito Pieres, and worked it on both sides of his pony. Going full tilt boogie, it looked like he was on the verge of losing the ball, but in a flash he reached back and made a pinpoint pass to Mannix, who ran it into goal.

Both teams seemed apprehensive and remained heavy on the defense until about three-quarters of the way into the third chukker, when things started to loosen up. The first half ended 8-6 for Audi. Facundo Pieres went on a scoring frenzy in the fourth, racking up four points and bringing Orchard Hill into a slim lead for the first and only time in the game. Andrade made a neckshot, and Mannix jumped on the line. Riding a gray speed stick, he poured it on, passing three, then four, then five players and running the ball straight into goal. From that point on, the score swapped back and forth between a tie and a one-point lead, which Audi stretched to two in the fifth and sixth chukkers. Gonzalito Pieres promptly did it again for Audi, but Polito and Facundo Pieres came right back with three goals – the last of which, courtesy of Facundo Pieres, tied the game at 15-all with just four seconds left in regulation play.

How did it feel going into overtime?

“Our hands were around our own neck,” said Mannix with a laugh as he pretended to choke himself. “It would have been hard to not win this game being up by two with a minute and 40 to go, but Polito’s an amazing player and he made a great play, and Facundo made an incredible goal there at the end.” He gave a nod toward Gonzolito Pieres. “We’re just lucky that we have a great player here – Gonzolito made it look easy at the end. What a game!”

Gonzolito Pieres said he found it “a bit frustrating the way that we had the game nearly won with a penalty five, and I had possession of the ball and Polito took it and they tied the game. It was important that we won the last throw-in and came back. We believe in the team. We tried to open up the game, and we did it well.”

Ganzi was thrilled with the outcome. “It feels amazing!” he said. “We’ve worked so hard for the last three years to get back to this place.” He attributed Audi’s win to “the whole organization, from Melissa (his wife), to the horses, to the fields, to the players, to making the plan with Gonzolito and Freddie back in August. It’s a dream. We fought really hard to get back here, and it means a lot to the whole organization. It’s a culmination of a lot of hard work and keeping to our dream.

“This team showed a lot of heart today. We stayed really disciplined and compact in our defense. We didn’t give them a lot. You really have to play every minute of the game against Facundo and Polito.”

Ganzi had awoken Sunday morning not knowing whether he would be playing in the final. Four days ago he injured his shoulder in the semifinals, and his son, Grant Ganzi, subbed in. The 16-year-old remained on deck Sunday in case he was needed again.

“I hit a few balls at 9:30 this morning to see how my arm was, and it felt OK,” said Marc Ganzi. He periodically reassessed his condition, not making the final decision to play until about 15 minutes before the game.

Both Audi and Orchard Hill came into the final undefeated. “That’s a great team,” said Ganzi of his opponents. “They played amazing. They’re champions. They’re the team to beat here, still. The U.S. Open’s going to go through them; we know it.”

Coca-Cola Runs the Field
Defeats Lechuza Caracas 14-11

Coca-Cola defeated Lechuza Caracas 14-11 in the final of the Engel & Völkers Tesoro Cup. Gillian Johnston was awarded Most Valuable Player and Pelon Stirling’s sixth chukker mount Renato was presented with Best Playing Pony.

Pelon Stirling and Nico Pieres
Pelon Stirling and Nico Pieres

Coca-Cola took control of the game from the very first throw-in, immediately making a run to goal and playing their signature passing game to score the first goal of the game. Gillian Johnston made the first of several blazing fast runs to drive a goal in from a pass from Sugar Erskine and make the score 2-0. A penalty conversion from Pelon Stirling and an amazing pick from Johnston ended the first chukker with Coca-Cola firmly in the lead.

Two more unanswered goals had Coca-Cola leading 6-0 in the beginning of the second chukker. A penalty shot by Julio Arellano was blocked by Nico Pieres who shot a pass to Juan Martin Nero. Nero went on the run and put the first goal up on the board for Lechuza Caracas.

A penalty conversion by Arellano made the score 7-1. In what was the play of the game, Arellano had possession of the ball in traffic and Erskine made a perfectly timed hook on the defending Lechuza Caracas player to allow Arellano to drive the ball through the uprights. At that point Lechuza Caracas took off on a scoring spree, making four unanswered goals to end the half 8-5.

Two penalty conversions by Lechuza Caracas put them within one goal of Coca-Cola at the beginning of the fourth chukker. Arellano thought otherwise, and scored two goals in rapid succession. To start off the fifth chukker, Erskine picked Agustin Garcia Grossi and flipped the ball into the goal to make the score 11-7.

Coca-Cola’s passing game came into play. Arellano sent Stirling a pass. Stirling drove the ball to Johnston, who sealed the deal. Lechuza Caracas took a page from Coca-Cola’s book. Nero passed to Victor Vargas. Vargas took the ball through traffic, flipped it to Pieres who finished the job to end the fifth chukker 12-8.

A breakaway by Johnston increased Coca-Cola’s lead to five goals, but Lechuza Caracas turned on the heat to bring them within two goals. A final goal by Stirling with a minute left in the match created an insurmountable lead, and Coca-Cola ended the game 14-11.

Arellano credited Johnston’s speed and accuracy for their win.

“Our MVP put us in the lead today and we just had to maintain it,” said Arellano with a smile. “She (Johnston) was on fire today.”

Stirling felt that this game was a good warm-up for the U.S. Open, which begins on Saturday, March 28.

“We were a little bit unlucky in the [USPA Piaget] Gold Cup. We lost the penalty shootout with Lechuza Caracas and Valiente,” said Stirling. “Our last game was quite a while ago, so it was good for us to get a good run in before next weekend when the Open starts to kind of wake up again and get into a game rhythm.”

International Polo Club Palm Beach Fast Facts

What: Created by players for players, the International Polo Club Palm Beach was born out of the dream to build a facility to showcase the incredible skills of the ponies and players that dominate the sport.

Members and guests enjoy panoramic views of the action from field side box seats or lawn and terrace seating. Sponsors and fans convene at The Winners Circle to congratulate the players during the awards presentation following the games.

Gourmet brunches, après polo celebrations and the prerequisite charitable events will take place in The Pavilion, designed to accommodate large parties, corporate clients, as well as family and friends.

Featured Highlights:

Herbie Pennell Cup – 20 Goal
Jan. 1-4, 2015

Joe Barry Memorial Cup – 20 Goal
Jan. 4-25, 2015

Ylvisaker Cup – 20 Goal
Jan. 28 – February 22, 2015

Iglehart Cup – 20 Goal
Feb. 28 – March 8, 2015

USPA C. V. Whitney Cup – 26 Goal
Feb. 15 – March 1, 2015

Piaget USPA Gold Cup® – 26 Goal
March 4-22, 2015

111th Maserati U.S. Open Polo Championship® – 26 Goal
March 25 – April 19, 2015

Directions:

From the Turnpike:
Take the Lake Worth Exit
Head west on FL-802 W/Lake Worth Rd toward Hooks Rd
Continue to follow Lake Worth Rd (3.9 miles)
Turn right onto 120th Ave S
Destination will be ahead on the left (0.4 miles)

From I-95:
Exit Forest Hill Blvd, head West
Make Left turn onto 441/St Rd 7
Make Right turn onto Lake Worth Rd
Make Right turn onto 120th Ave S
Destination on Left

Information:
3667 120th Ave S, Wellington, FL 33414
International Polo Club Palm Beach: 561-204-5687
Mallet Grille: 561-282-5340
Spa & Fitness Center: 561-282-5288
Tennis Pro Shop: 561-795-7228
Polo Operations Office: 561-282-5283
Polo Hotline: 561-282-5290

Website:
www.internationalpoloclub.com

For Tickets:
http://internationalpoloclub.ticketleap.com/

Hotels:
Hampton Inn & Suites – (561) 472-9696 – Approximately 2 miles
Hampton Inn – (561) 472-5980 – Approximately 4 miles
Four Seasons Resort – (561) 582-2800 – Approximately 9 miles
The Breakers – (561) 655-6611 – Approximately 9 miles
Kimpton Tideline Ocean Resort & Spa – (561) 540-6440 – Approximately 9 miles

Management:
John Wash – President of Club Operations
jwash@internationalpoloclub.com
561-282-5353

MEDIA CONTACT:
Phelps Media Group, Inc.
12012 South Shore Blvd #105
Wellington, FL 33414
561-753-3389 (phone)
561-753-3386 (fax)
pmginfo@phelpsmediagroup.com
PhelpsMediaGroup.com

One Point Lands Audi and Orchard Hill in USPA Piaget Gold Cup Finals

Facundo Sola, Segundo Merlos and Rodrigo Andrade. Photos: Liz Lamont Images/Phelps Media Group.

Audi Takes Las Monjitas Down to the Wire, 13-12

Wellington, FL – March 18, 2015 – With both of Wednesday’s semifinal matches ending 13-12, Orchard Hill defeated Alegria in overtime and Audi bested Las Monjitas in the USPA Piaget Gold Cup at the International Polo Club (IPC).

Try to imagine being 16 years old and getting the news that you have to play in the prestigious 26-goal USPA Piaget Gold Cup Final – and you have just three days to get ready.

Welcome to Grant Ganzi’s world. In the fifth chukker of Wednesday’s semifinals between Audi and Las Monjitas, he suddenly found himself having to sub into the number one position for Audi, which went on to defeat the powerful Las Monjitas team 13-12. His father, Marc Ganzi, had been playing the position – and playing it extremely well – until he injured his shoulder.

“I had never been in a situation like this in my life,” said Grant Ganzi, a junior at St. Andrew’s School. “There was a lot of pressure on my back, and it was really hard. Going in cold is never easy, but I had to be here and be ready. I’ve been ready for three months in case, God forbid, something should happen to my dad. When he fell off, I knew I had to do it, and mentally I couldn’t let it get to me.”

If it did, it certainly didn’t show. Grant Ganzi did a masterful job of controlling his nerves as he held his own on the field with the top players in the world. The match was power polo at its ultimate.

The game opened with an automatic point for Audi based on its 25-goal handicap. Two goals by Gonzalito Pieres and one each by Facundo Sola and Sebastian Merlos brought Audi into a 3-2 lead in the first chukker. In the first 30 seconds of the second chukker, Sola – who has a penchant for coming in hot out of nowhere – ran the ball down the field with supreme confidence as Merlos warded off a tribe of determined defenders. Sola slammed the ball through the goal posts, tying the score at 3-all, and followed up with two more goals in quick succession to move Las Monjitas into the lead. With 18 seconds left in the chukker, Fred Mannix tied the game at 5-all.

In what seemed like a flash, Las Monjitas shot into a two-point lead. In the first play of the third chukker, Pieres lost control of the ball to Sola, who made a run for the money and took a half-shot on goal. Pieres snatched the ball from the goalmouth, drawing a whistle. Las Monjitas picked up a point on a penalty one (to be followed by another in the next chukker). Eduardo Astrada scored on the subsequent shot, turning the initial play into a two-for-one for his team. He gave a repeat performance in the fourth chukker with five seconds left on the clock. Astrada was going for goal with Pieres in pursuit when the whistle blew, resulting in another Audi technical. Once again, Astrada made the goal, bringing Las Monjitas into a 10-7 lead.

Scoreless in the fourth chukker, Audi poured it on in the fifth and sixth, winning several throw-ins and making six more goals (all but one by Pieres). Las Monjitas came back with two goals (one by Sola and the other by Segundo Merlos, the other teenager in the match).

With two-and-a-half minutes left in the fifth chukker and Las Monjitas leading 11-9, Grant Ganzi found himself catapulted into the game, playing against another talented teenager, Segundo Merlos, both of them mixed in with a slew of professional powerhouses. Sola, an 8-goaler, made five goals total in the match, performing as skillfully as his 9-goalers teammates Astrada and Sebastian Merlos. Sola tied the game at 12-all with a minute-and-a-half left in the final chukker. A final penalty goal by Pieres topped off the day for Audi.

Segundo Merlos was playing in place of Camilo Bautista, a strategic repositioning on the part of Las Monjitas, which had lost 16-12 in bracket play against Audi last week.

“They played without Camilo, and they had a different tactic,” said Pieres. While Bautista normally doesn’t come to the ball after a hit, he said, “They were sending Segundo in when it was hit.” Also, he said, normally one of Audi’s best plays is made on the throw-in. “But they were blocking the field really well from us. They were dominating a bit in the beginning, and we weren’t playing our best polo. But we knew our team was set to be in the final.”

In Marc Ganzi’s view, it was a game well fought by both teams. “Kudos to them – they played a hell of a game,” he said. “They learned a lot from the last time they played us, and today they were ready to play.”

He added that he was proud of his son for subbing in for him. “Grant came in and played well, really poised. All season we’ve told him to be ready, and unfortunately today he got the call. But he was ready for it. He’s been playing great all season. Now he has three days to get ready, learn the horses and be super committed.”

After the match, he gave his son marching orders for the rest of the week: “You’ll get up at 5:30 in the morning, ride horses, go to school, and come home and ride more horses. We have three days to figure out which ones play best for you.”

Mannix, meanwhile, was still in the moment. He said he felt like he was floating. “You always want to be in the finals, and (being in) the final for the Gold Cup is amazing!” he said. “It was a good team effort. I’m very happy with the team and very happy with the horses – it was just a beautiful ending to a very tough game.”

Orchard Hill Plays with Swagger
Defeats Alegria Assist Card 13-12 in OT

Orchard Hill defeated Alegria Assist Card 13-12 in overtime in the semifinal of the USPA Piaget Gold Cup at the International Polo Club Palm Beach.

In the highly anticipated semifinal match-up of Alegria Assist Card against Orchard Hill, Alegria Assist Card leapt into action out of the first throw-in to drive the ball downfield for a goal attempt. After the shot went wide, Orchard Hill used every player to get the job done and score the first goal of the match. Facundo Pieres then converted to give Orchard Hill a 2-0 lead.

Ezequiel Martinez Ferrario and Sterling Giannico
Ezequiel Martinez Ferrario and Sterling Giannico

Hilario Ulloa made an incredible defensive play, taking the ball out of the goalmouth with mere inches to spare and shot the ball downfield to Mariano Aguerre. Julian Mannix sealed the deal to end the first chukker 2-1. Aguerre and Ulloa continued to play on fire into the second chukker, making a breathtaking run to goal. Ulloa sank another goal before Ezequiel Ferrario fired back with a goal of his own to tie the score 3-3.

The game remained fraught with suspense in the third chukker with strong defensive plays on both sides. Mannix took advantage of a missed backshot to tap a goal in on the run and take the lead for Alegria Assist Card. Facundo Pieres completed another penalty conversion to tie the game again at the end of the third chukker.

Facundo Pieres showcased his penalty shooting skills to make the score 5-4 in favor of Orchard Hill, but Mannix had other ideas as he dodged defenders in the next play to score. A penalty one awarded to Alegria Assist Card put them in the lead momentarily. Polito Pieres went on a scoring streak, driving in back to back goals. Facundo Pieres solidified their lead by crushing a shot downfield to end the fourth chukker.

Ulloa kept Alegria Assist Card within striking distance with a goal, and in the next play, things got Western. A penalty against Alegria Assist Card was met with heated debate, ultimately resulting in a penalty two, which Facundo Pieres converted to make the score 9-7. Ferrario accelerated into a breakaway to receive a backshot pass from Facundo Pieres and score. Ulloa sank a penalty conversion to make the score 10-8. Polito Pieres ran the ball through heavy traffic to score and end the fifth chukker.

Alegria Assist Card got busy in the sixth chukker, with Mannix and Aguerre assisting Ulloa in sequential goals. Mannix took the ball nearly end to end to tie the score 11-all. Facundo Pieres nabbed the ball out of the throw-in and demonstrated his incredible ball control down the field effortlessly sending it through the uprights to score. Ulloa responded with a run of his own to tie the game 12-12 and send it into overtime.

A penalty in favor of Alegria Assist Card seemed to foreshadow the conclusion of the match, but Orchard Hill had their ace in the hole. Polito Pieres stole the ball and drove downfield with the ball seemingly glued to the end of his mallet. He tapped the ball in with authority to score. With that goal Orchard Hill advanced to the final of the USPA Piaget Gold Cup.

For patron Steve Van Andel, all of their team’s energy was focused on winning today’s match.

“I haven’t even thought of [the final]. I was just thinking about today,” said Van Andel.

For Facundo Pieres, seeing his teammate/cousin score the final goal was thrilling.

“The last goal that Polito made, it was amazing,” said Facundo Pieres.

The 26-goal USPA Piaget Gold Cup Final will be the 3 p.m. featured match at IPC, March 22, preceded by the Tesoro Cup subsidiary at noon. The 18-goal Liberty Cup Final takes place Thursday, March 19 at noon at IPC.

International Polo Club Palm Beach Fast Facts

What: Created by players for players, the International Polo Club Palm Beach was born out of the dream to build a facility to showcase the incredible skills of the ponies and players that dominate the sport.

Members and guests enjoy panoramic views of the action from field side box seats or lawn and terrace seating. Sponsors and fans convene at The Winners Circle to congratulate the players during the awards presentation following the games.

Gourmet brunches, après polo celebrations and the prerequisite charitable events will take place in The Pavilion, designed to accommodate large parties, corporate clients, as well as family and friends.

Featured Highlights:

Herbie Pennell Cup – 20 Goal
Jan. 1-4, 2015

Joe Barry Memorial Cup – 20 Goal
Jan. 4-25, 2015

Ylvisaker Cup – 20 Goal
Jan. 28 – February 22, 2015

Iglehart Cup – 20 Goal
Feb. 28 – March 8, 2015

USPA C. V. Whitney Cup – 26 Goal
Feb. 15 – March 1, 2015

Piaget USPA Gold Cup® – 26 Goal
March 4-22, 2015

111th Maserati U.S. Open Polo Championship® – 26 Goal
March 25 – April 19, 2015

Directions:

From the Turnpike:
Take the Lake Worth Exit
Head west on FL-802 W/Lake Worth Rd toward Hooks Rd
Continue to follow Lake Worth Rd (3.9 miles)
Turn right onto 120th Ave S
Destination will be ahead on the left (0.4 miles)

From I-95:
Exit Forest Hill Blvd, head West
Make Left turn onto 441/St Rd 7
Make Right turn onto Lake Worth Rd
Make Right turn onto 120th Ave S
Destination on Left

Information:
3667 120th Ave S, Wellington, FL 33414
International Polo Club Palm Beach: 561-204-5687
Mallet Grille: 561-282-5340
Spa & Fitness Center: 561-282-5288
Tennis Pro Shop: 561-795-7228
Polo Operations Office: 561-282-5283
Polo Hotline: 561-282-5290

Website:
www.internationalpoloclub.com

For Tickets:
http://internationalpoloclub.ticketleap.com/

Hotels:
Hampton Inn & Suites – (561) 472-9696 – Approximately 2 miles
Hampton Inn – (561) 472-5980 – Approximately 4 miles
Four Seasons Resort – (561) 582-2800 – Approximately 9 miles
The Breakers – (561) 655-6611 – Approximately 9 miles
Kimpton Tideline Ocean Resort & Spa – (561) 540-6440 – Approximately 9 miles

Management:
John Wash – President of Club Operations
jwash@internationalpoloclub.com
561-282-5353

MEDIA CONTACT:
Phelps Media Group, Inc.
12012 South Shore Blvd #105
Wellington, FL 33414
561-753-3389 (phone)
561-753-3386 (fax)
pmginfo@phelpsmediagroup.com
PhelpsMediaGroup.com

Cambiaso Catapults Valiente to Victory, Eclipses Coca-Cola 12-8 in Final Chukker

Pelon Stering and Adolfo Cambiaso. Photos: Liz Lamont Images/Phelps Media Group.

Wellington, FL – March 12, 2015 – Three exciting matches and a penalty shootout took place at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC) as play continued Thursday in the 26-goal USPA Piaget Gold Cup. Valiente defeated Coca-Cola 12-8, with both sides of the field so lined with vehicles and spectators that it looked like a Sunday feature match minus the grandstand. Audi bested Las Monjitas 16-12 and Orchard Hill took Lechuza Caracas 12-11.

Alejo Taranco looked at Bob Jornayvaz after the game and came out with the understatement of the season: “I felt like we clicked more today.”

“Clicked” doesn’t even begin to describe the 42 minutes of synchronicity the four Valiente players displayed. Their playbook looked like it had been choreographed by Martha Graham. With the hand (if not the mallet) of megastar Adolfo Cambiaso in nearly every play, Valiente’s action was cohesive beyond belief.

All the way until the final chukker, the score was either tied or separated by a point. Although the action on the field was fast, the game began in fits and starts, with seven whistles in the first chukker. Cambiaso put increasing pressure on Julio Arellano in the second chukker, every now and then charging down the field glued to Arellano’s hip. The two intermittently took turns throwing a hook on each other and otherwise mixing it up.

Arellano was by no means the only recipient of Cambiaso’s attention. The game soon turned into a battle of the Titans between the two 10-goalers. Cambiaso had Pelon Sterling in his crosshairs from the get-go, and vice versa. They seemed to read each other’s plays as though looking through crystal balls (not surprising, given that three years ago they played on a Valiente team together). In the second chukker Cambiaso took the shot on a penalty three, making a 40-yard drive with spot-on accuracy – only to be thwarted by Sterling, who blocked it from cruising into goal. The two tangled again in the third chukker, when Sterling rode Cambiaso off the ball and made a dropshot direct to the mallet of Erskine, who scored.

In a textbook example of how to play polo at its pinnacle, Sterling tied the game at 4-all in the third chukker. After finagling the ball away from Cambiaso and company, he surveyed the field while on the fly aboard a full-steam-ahead gray. The moment a window cracked open, he took a shot from at least 80 yards out and easily found the goal.

For most of the first half, Taranco had been assigned to cover Sterling, with Guillermo Terrera on Erskine. A midgame powwow with Cambiaso resulted in a strategic shift that paid off in spades for Valiente. At the master’s direction, Taranco and Terrera swapped targets for the rest of the game, a move that seemed to keep Coca-Cola guessing how long it was going to last.

The fourth chukker saw renewed Cambiaso-Arellano friction, with one or the other trying to pressure his opponent into a foul (a skill that Cambiaso has nearly branded). One of their more intense skirmishes resulted in an automatic goal on a penalty one, which broke the tie and gave Coca-Cola a 5-4 lead.

Valiente had to regain ground, and Taranco came through for his team with two consecutive goals, the first on a penalty. Then he scored from the field on a play that showed the prowess of both teams. It began with Gillian Johnston slickly picking off Cambiaso’s backshot. He swooped in, took it back in his claws and toyed with it for a bit, leaving his opponents puzzling over what he had in store. Suddenly the ball was hurtling through the air toward goal, and just as quickly Erskine dispatched himself to stop it. Taranco, who had been waiting in the wings, read the play perfectly. He redirected the ball out of Erskine’s self-appointed danger zone and tapped it into goal.

Coca-Cola stormed into the fifth chukker determined to get the upper hand. In a smooth-as-silk series of touches, the ball sailed directly from Sterling to Arellano to Johnston and straight into goal to tie the score 6-all. Then it was Erskine’s turn to score for the team in red. On a determined run, he checked over his shoulder for a split second and then snapped his head forward, turned the corner, moved inside and slammed the ball into goal. (Announcer Gus Whitelaw said it looked like Erskine had looked back to ask, “Who’s there?” and answered himself, “Who cares?” as he smoked on.)

Erskine perpetually made himself the bane of Valiente’s existence. That came as no surprise to the team in white, nor did the strength of Coca-Cola as a unit. As Taranco said of his opponents, “We knew from the beginning that it wasn’t going to be easy. They play simple and classic polo, and they do it very well.”

It all came down to the final chukker, which began tied at 8-all. The game could just as easily have gone in Coca-Cola’s favor, but Valiente pulled the rug out from under their opponents. Cambiaso was at the controls from the moment the chukker opened until the final horn. He scored two goals, followed by one each by Taranco and Bob Jornayvaz. Those four goals went unanswered by Coca-Cola.

“We had a very good sixth chukker, which we needed,” said Taranco. “And we have Adolfo! He made a big difference in how the game ended.”

The quarterfinals of the USPA Piaget Gold Cup will be held Sunday, March 15 at IPC. Alegria plays Valiente at noon and Las Monjitas faces Lechuza Caracas in the 3 p.m. featured match on Engel & Völkers field.

Orchard Hill Hangs Tough to Defeat Lechuza Caracas

Orchard Hill vanquished Lechuza Caracas 12-11 in a nail biter to garner an undefeated record in USPA Piaget Gold Cup bracket play at International Polo Club Palm Beach. Facundo Pieres scored the final goal to secure the win just before the last horn. Facundo had nine goals in the match to outscore all players, including his brother Nico who trailed him with eight goals scored.

Ezequiel Martinez Ferrario and Nico Pieres
Ezequiel Martinez Ferrario and Nico Pieres

The third round match had strategic importance for both teams. Orchard Hill entered the match with a 2-0 record and had the goal in mind of securing the top spot in Bracket II and the bye to the semifinals. Lechuza wanted to win to avoid a shootout scenario that could potentially lead to elimination from the tournament.

Orchard Hill superstar Facundo Pieres emphasized the significance of the win, “It was important to win and go straight to the semifinal. We have played a lot of polo, first with the C. V. Whitney final, then we played hard against Lechuza and Coca Cola. It would have been very hard on our horses to play a quarter this weekend in the heat.”

The first half had a lot of quick runs to goal and great teamwork from each team. It also featured some great defense especially from Lechuza’s 10-goal player Juan Martin Nero. Nero played stellar defense against the normally invincible Facundo Pieres, it took Facundo until almost the end of the second chukker to get a goal from the field

After a steeply angled cut shot to goal from the corner by Nero in the first chukker, Lechuza in turn struggled to evade the quick sticks of Orchard Hill. Fortunately for Lechuza, Nico Pieres was shooting his penalties with authority. Nico Pieres was perfect on his penalties including three first half penalty four conversions from the 60 yard line. Thanks to the accuracy of Nico Pieres, Lechuza rode off the field at halftime with a slim 6-5 lead.

Orchard Hill found another realm of speed after the halftime break. Polito and Facundo Pieres teamed up for three flying goals from the field, outrunning Lechuza throughout the chukker. But they couldn’t outrun the steady penalty shooting of Nico Pieres, who continued his perfect performance from the penalty line to the match tied at 8 all.

Orchard Hill briefly took the lead in the fifth as Facundo Pieres won the initial lineup and darted to goal, Nico countered with his first field goal to keep the score tied 9 all.

As temperatures soared on the sultry day, so did the tension level heading into the sixth chukker. The teams traded goals, neither team willing to give an inch. First Nero scored, then Facundo converted a penalty four. Agustine Grossi won a lineup close to goal for a quick shot, only to see Polito dribble the ball through the pack to tie it back up at 11 all. With 1:19 left in the chukker, Orchard Hill was awarded a penalty 5 near mid field. Facundo went to the sidelines for his spare, which was C. V. Whitney Best Playing Pony NutraSweet. The agile mare carried Facundo around the Lechuza defenders, got him back to the ball after a Lechuza back shot, and Facundo and NutraSweet swept through the goal to make the score 12-11 for Orchard Hill just before the end of the chukker.

“That game was not easy. They were super tough!” exclaimed Orchard Hill captain Steve van Andel after the match. “They didn’t let up much. We finally had to start shooting from farther away and it worked, we pulled it out in the end.”

Orchard Hill will be fine-tuning their semifinal strategy this weekend while the quarterfinal teams battle it out on Sunday, March 15 at International Polo Club for the right to play them.

Audi Plays the Game Wide-Open
Defeats Las Monjitas 16-12

Audi defeated Las Monjitas 16-12 in bracket play for the USPA Piaget Gold Cup at the International Polo Club Palm Beach.

The match started out with Audi in the lead 1-0 due to handicap, but Las Monjitas did not let it ride for long. After shots by both teams went wide, Las Monjitas warmed up and got down to business. Camilo Bautista scored the first goal of the match on the field, tying the score briefly before Facundo Sola and Sebastian Merlos went on a scoring spree for the remainder of the chukker, ending it 4-1.

Merlos and Sola started out the second chukker in the same fashion, scoring two more goals within the first minutes. However, the tide began to turn as Marc Ganzi drove the ball up field for Rodrigo Andrade to tap in. A foul in the goalmouth had Audi awarded a penalty one, and Fred Mannix hit a backshot for Gonzalito Pieres that brought Audi within three points of Las Monjitas.

Audi took advantage of the situation and took the bull by the horns, rapidly scoring two more goals to make the score 6-5. Another foul in the goalmouth resulted in a second penalty one for Audi, and Mannix sealed the second goal with a backshot Audi to take the lead 7-6. Two more penalty conversions before the end of the second chukker put Audi firmly in the lead 9-6 going into the third chukker.

Both teams fought valiantly to score in the third chukker, but shot after shot went wide in what seemed like a wide streak of la mala leche, or bad luck. Pieres managed to make one penalty conversion before the half, increasing Audi’s lead to 10-6 at halftime. Las Monjitas rallied with a penalty conversion to start off the fourth chukker, but Pieres drove in an answering conversion to maintain Audi’s four-goal lead.

Las Monjitas continued to chip away at Audi’s lead, with Audi responding with goals of their own. The chukker ended 12-9. Merlos tapped in a goal while evading defenders to bring his team within two at the beginning of the fifth chukker. Pieres racked up another penalty conversion, and Andrade made the shot of the game, taking the ball from Audi’s backfield all the way down field and sinking a cut shot from 70 yards out. Ganzi drilled in a goal on the run to end the fifth chukker 15-10.

The sixth chukker started similarly to the third with wide shots on both sides, but Andrade delivered the knockout punch with a breakaway goal to put one up on the scoreboard for Audi. Bautista charged down the field and tapped a goal in for Las Monjitas to make the score 16-11. A final safety penalty conversion by Merlos ended the match 16-12.

Audi patron Ganzi credited his team’s strategy for their success.

“That was a tough team we beat today,” said Ganzi. “They play a very specific brand of polo and it’s very effective. We spent the first chukker looking at them and looking at the ball. We weren’t looking at the man. Once we spread them, we could cut the angles. If you can spread all four guys out, you create space and you have openings.”

Pieres felt that the time between this game and the semi-finals was a welcome relief for everyone.

“I think it will be good for [the horses] to rest this weekend because we have been playing Thursday through Sunday,” said Pieres. “It will be good for everybody – and the horses too.

Lechuza and Valiente Take Advantage of a Second Chance to Advance to USPA Piaget Gold Cup Quarterfinals

Sharpshooters Nico Pieres and Adolfo Cambiaso were perfect and nearly perfect from the penalty line to advance their teams through the penalty shootout tiebreaker to the USPA Piaget Gold Cup quarterfinals.

By virtue of the 1-2 tie in Bracket II in which all three teams had beaten each other, Coca-Cola, Lechuza Caracas and Valiente found themselves settling the tie with penalties. Earlier in the day, Lechuza suffered a heartbreaking loss at the last second to Orchard Hill, while Valiente edged out Coca-Cola in the last chukker to get their first win of the tournament and arrive at the shootout. The winner and runner-up of the shootout advances to the quarterfinals, with the winner playing a lower ranked team from the other bracket. The third place team does not advance. Each team sent their best penalty shooter to shoot penalties and face the pressure.

Nico Pieres began, followed by Adolfo Cambiaso, then Julio Arellano. Players shoot in the same order throughout the shootout. All three players nailed the initial penalty attempt from the 40 yards line.

The next step was penalty attempts from the 60 yards line. In a game, the 60-yard penalty four is defended, in a shootout tiebreaker it is not. Pieres split the goal posts on his attempt, Cambiaso followed with a successful conversion as well. Arellano walked up to the ball, concentrating hard, swung and the ball veered left of the goal. Pieres and Cambiaso breathed sighs of relief.

With Lechuza and Valiente qualified for the quarterfinals at this point, the pressure was reduced as Pieres and Cambiaso continued to shoot from the 60-yard line for bracket position. Both were supremely accurate through the next two shots. After Pieres’ fourth 60-yard attempt went straight through the goal, Cambiaso’s fourth 60-yard shot veered off course.

Nico Pieres found redemption for his Lechuza team in the tiebreaker after their loss earlier in the day to Orchard Hill. “We were unlucky against Orchard Hill, and we did not play a good game against Coca-Cola, but I think we deserve to be in these quarterfinals.” He was also perfect for the day, in both the game and the tiebreaker, on his penalty shots. “I have been practicing a lot the last week, because in the 20 goal I wasn’t hitting the penalties well. I have been practicing a lot with Milo and doing better,” referring to Milo Fernandez Araujo, the coach for Lechuza Caracas.

For the quarterfinals of the USPA Piaget Gold Cup Valiente plays Alegria at noon and Lechuza Caracas squares off against Las Monjitas at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 15 at International Polo Club Palm Beach.

LIBERTY CUP
The 18-goal Liberty Cup resumes Friday, March 13 at IPC.

International Polo Club Palm Beach Fast Facts

What: Created by players for players, the International Polo Club Palm Beach was born out of the dream to build a facility to showcase the incredible skills of the ponies and players that dominate the sport.

Members and guests enjoy panoramic views of the action from field side box seats or lawn and terrace seating. Sponsors and fans convene at The Winners Circle to congratulate the players during the awards presentation following the games.

Gourmet brunches, après polo celebrations and the prerequisite charitable events will take place in The Pavilion, designed to accommodate large parties, corporate clients, as well as family and friends.

Featured Highlights:

Herbie Pennell Cup – 20 Goal
Jan. 1-4, 2015

Joe Barry Memorial Cup – 20 Goal
Jan. 4-25, 2015

Ylvisaker Cup – 20 Goal
Jan. 28 – February 22, 2015

Iglehart Cup – 20 Goal
Feb. 28 – March 8, 2015

USPA C. V. Whitney Cup – 26 Goal
Feb. 15 – March 1, 2015

Piaget USPA Gold Cup® – 26 Goal
March 4-22, 2015

111th Maserati U.S. Open Polo Championship® – 26 Goal
March 25 – April 19, 2015

Directions:

From the Turnpike:
Take the Lake Worth Exit
Head west on FL-802 W/Lake Worth Rd toward Hooks Rd
Continue to follow Lake Worth Rd (3.9 miles)
Turn right onto 120th Ave S
Destination will be ahead on the left (0.4 miles)

From I-95:
Exit Forest Hill Blvd, head West
Make Left turn onto 441/St Rd 7
Make Right turn onto Lake Worth Rd
Make Right turn onto 120th Ave S
Destination on Left

Information:
3667 120th Ave S, Wellington, FL 33414
International Polo Club Palm Beach: 561-204-5687
Mallet Grille: 561-282-5340
Spa & Fitness Center: 561-282-5288
Tennis Pro Shop: 561-795-7228
Polo Operations Office: 561-282-5283
Polo Hotline: 561-282-5290

Website:
www.internationalpoloclub.com

For Tickets:
http://internationalpoloclub.ticketleap.com/

Hotels:
Hampton Inn & Suites – (561) 472-9696 – Approximately 2 miles
Hampton Inn – (561) 472-5980 – Approximately 4 miles
Four Seasons Resort – (561) 582-2800 – Approximately 9 miles
The Breakers – (561) 655-6611 – Approximately 9 miles
Kimpton Tideline Ocean Resort & Spa – (561) 540-6440 – Approximately 9 miles

Management:
John Wash – President of Club Operations
jwash@internationalpoloclub.com
561-282-5353

MEDIA CONTACT:
Phelps Media Group, Inc.
12012 South Shore Blvd #105
Wellington, FL 33414
561-753-3389 (phone)
561-753-3386 (fax)
pmginfo@phelpsmediagroup.com
PhelpsMediaGroup.com

Pieres Power Carries the Day for Orchard Hill

Ezequiel Martinez Ferrario, Alejo Taranco, Polito Pieres, Facundo Pieres and Adolfo Cambiaso. Photos: Liz Lamont Images/Phelps Media Group.

Wellington, FL – March 8, 2015 – Sunday was a cauldron of excitement at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC), with four high-stakes matches in the 26-goal USPA Piaget Gold Cup. Audi defeated Engel & Völkers 11-7; Alegria was victorious over Las Monjitas 9-8, and Coca-Cola clinched a 10-8 win over Lechuza Caracas.

In the featured match on Engel & Völkers field, Orchard Hill pushed ahead of Valiente to win 14-12. Ezequiel Ferrario was named Most Valuable Player. The Best Playing Pony award went to Jackie, owned by Las Machitos. The horse carried Polito Pieres to his five goals in the pivotal fourth chukker. This was Orchard Hill’s second 26-goal tournament win on the Engel & Völkers field. The team was awarded the C. V. Whitney Cup one week ago.

If polo was a card game, and you knew the deck had a pair of Piereses and a Cambiaso in it, how would you play your hand?

That was the question of the day on Engel & Völkers field Sunday. The answer kept changing from chukker to chukker, as the three 10-goalers took turns being the wild card. (That includes Polito Pieres, who is rated 10 in Argentina and may be on the bullet train to the same destination in this country.)

Between the two of them, the Pieres cousins scored an astounding 13 goals for Orchard Hill, with the team’s other point made by patron Steve Van Andel. Valiente’s scoring was more evenly spread out, as often is the case. All four teammates made goals, with the most (four) courtesy of Adolfo Cambiaso.

Even though it held the Cambiaso card – and played it to its advantage – it soon became clear that for Valiente the game was going to be about containing Facundo Pieres. Cambiaso kept after him nonstop, escalating the pressure throughout the match. At times the game was as physical as it was mental, with an occasional smattering of whistles, bumps and vocalizations punctuating the play.

That came as no surprise to anyone, least of all Van Andel. “Whenever you have the best players in the world going against each other, it’s going to be a tough game – and it was,” he said. “These are all tough teams, but Valiente is super tough.”

Nonetheless, Orchard Hill kept its opponents at bay, with Valiente trailing by a point for the first two chukkers. Valiente perked up in the third, with Alejo Taranco putting on some serious hustle to make a goal. Cambiaso followed that up, tying the game at 6-all at the end of the first half.

As Polito Pieres noted, “It was a very tough first half. We were tied, and neither one of the teams wanted to lose.”

That came into hyper focus as the second half opened. The vibe was on the verge of pandemonium as the Piereses went on a communal scoring frenzy. Polito Pieres owned the fourth chukker just about outright, scoring four consecutive goals within the first two minutes and adding a fifth point after Facundo Pieres contributed one. It remained a purely Pieres chukker, with Valiente completely shut down from scoring and Orchard Hill doubling its lead to 12-6.

How did that happen?

“I really don’t know,” said Facundo Pieres, shaking his head in amazement. “We came into a good momentum in the fourth chukker. Polito was unbelievable! He scored four goals in a row. We won all the throw-ins.”

In Van Andel’s estimation, “That fourth chukker was something else! We got a couple of good breaks, and then once you get the momentum you keep going, so it worked out.”

The fifth chukker was almost a mirror image of the fourth. This time Orchard Hill was scoreless and Valiente was the shot-caller, making four goals to tighten the gap to 12-10. A field goal and a penalty point by each team in the sixth chukker brought the final score to 14-12 for Orchard Hill.

Bracket play in the USPA Piaget Gold Cup will resume Wednesday at IPC, with Alegria taking on Engel & Völkers.

Alegria Means Happiness with a Win over Las Monjitas

Alegria overcame a midgame lapse in concentration to outscore Las Monjitas three goals to one in the sixth chukker for the win 9-8 in the second round of the USPA Piaget Gold Cup at International Polo Club. The win for Alegria equalized their record at 1-1 for the tournament.

Facundo Sola, Sterling Giannico, Camilo Bautista and Mariano Aguerre
Facundo Sola, Sterling Giannico, Camilo Bautista and Mariano Aguerre

Alegria lost their first round match in the USPA Piaget Gold Cup in a vocal game against Audi. Mariano Aguerre, who scored the game-winning goal today on a neck shot in the sixth chukker, was all smiles after the win. “We had a bad game against Audi; it is good to see that we are back on track. We enjoyed it today.”

Alegria started the match well, Hilario Ulloa scored with a run dribbling the ball between defenders from midfield. Ulloa looked like a racecar driver weaving around highway cones as he made his way to goal between the neon orange-clad defenders. Aguerre added another goal on a broken play. Multiple players’ mallets shot in the air to appeal for the foul but Aguerre put his mallet down on the ball and scored. Las Monjitas scoreless throughout the first chukker, but Eduardo Novillo Astrada finally got a point on the board for the orange team when he muscled his way past the Alegria defender with a man on his hip trying fruitlessly to ride him off the ball. But despite some moments of brilliance, the first half produced few goals. Alegria led 4-2 at halftime.

Las Monjitas went on a scoring spree after the halftime break. Astrada gave his team a jolt with a high speed run to goal on a long legged gray mare. Facundo Sola kept the momentum flowing with two more field goals, supported by Camilo Bautista blocking out the defenders. Las Monjitas added a penalty two goal in the fourth for a 4-0 scoring run. At the conclusion of the fourth chukker Las Monjitas was in proud possession of a two- goal lead and the Alegria players were looking bewildered at the sudden turn in events.

Ulloa commented after the match, “We just fell asleep! We were playing really well the first half. I think we did a great job, but then in the fourth chukker we just fell asleep and they were scoring easy goals and winning the throw-ins.”

Alegria clawed their way back into contention in the fifth chukker and headed into the sixth chukker only down by one goal with Las Monjitas leading 7-6.

With their backs against the wall and facing elimination from the tournament if they lost, Alegria found a spark with a goal by Julian Mannix, assisted by a pinpoint pass from Sterling Giannico. Giannico added another goal to give Alegria the lead at 8-7. With plenty of time left in the chukker, Aguerre solidified the win by adding another goal, a smart move from the Alegria field general as Las Monjitas was awarded a penalty two at the end of the chukker. Final score was 9-8 in favor of Alegria.

Alegria faces Engel & Völkers in the third round, do or die Piaget Gold Cup match for both teams on Wednesday, March 11 at International Polo Club Palm Beach.

Audi Takes the Wheel
Defeats Engel & Völkers 11-7

Audi defeated Engel & Völkers 11-7 in bracket play for the Piaget Gold Cup at the International Polo Club Palm Beach.

Engel & Völkers leapt into action right from the start and Kris Kampsen scored first goal of the game with lightening accuracy. Fred Mannix quickly responded by running in a goal for Audi, setting the tone early for Audi’s fast-paced play. Both teams were evenly matched, riding hard and showcasing the speed and athleticism of their mounts.

In the second chukker, Audi took control of the match, with back-to-back goals scored by Rodrigo Andrade and Gonzalito Pieres. Pieres proved to be lethal from the penalty line, converting sequential penalty shots to confirm Audi’s lead 5-1. Mannix rocketed out of the bowl-in to score the final goal of the chukker 6-1.

After several wide goal attempts by Mariano Gracida (substituting for Jared Zenni), Santi Torres succeeded in gaining some ground by scoring with a cut shot through traffic. Then Kampsen surged into a breakaway to put Engel & Völkers three goals behind at the end of the end of the half.

Torres took advantage of broken play by Audi to drive a goal in and make the score 6-4. The game slowed down at this point, with players in close contact and fighting for position on every play. Kampsen began the fifth chukker strongly, adding another goal to Engel & Völkers’ tally and placed the team within striking distance at 6-5. But Pieres converted with a lofted neck shot, and Audi pulled away from Engel & Völkers with a two-goal lead.

Andrade made what was undoubtedly the shot of the game, a giant lofted neck shot to goal that brought the score to 8-5. From there, Audi simply dominated the game, scoring three unanswered goals to cement their lead 11-5. Matias Magrini tapped a goal in, and Carlitos Gracida made the final goal of the game to end the sixth chukker 11-7.

Mannix felt that Audi’s horsepower has played a large part in their success this season.

“I’ve got some super horses here this year, so it’s making a huge difference,” Mannix said. “All the players on this team do. If you look at the way Gonzalito [Pieres] is mounted, and Marc [Ganzi] is mounted very well, and Rodrigo [Andrade] is a beast – he’s got some very powerful, strong horses. I think the combination of everything together allows us to play in a way we want to play. We’re not feeling any external pressure how we should or shouldn’t play. It’s more like how we want to play.”

Audi patron Marc Ganzi is already looking ahead to Thursday, March 12 when Audi will go head to head with Las Monjitas at 10 a.m. at International Polo Club Palm Beach.

“We’ll watch some video tonight and see what we did right and what we did wrong,” said Ganzi. “Then we’ll practice probably on Tuesday and Wednesday. Then we’ll have a practice team, FlexJet, who’ll sort of mimic what Las Monjitas is going to do. We’ll watch a little video on Wednesday night and get ready for a big game on Thursday. It’s a big game. If we win it, we win the bracket and we get to take next weekend off, which will be good for the horses.”

Coca-Cola defeated Lechuza Caracas in bracket play for the USPA Piaget Gold Cup at the International Polo Club Palm Beach.

Coca-Cola scored right away, with a conversion by Julio Arellano. With lightning speed and accuracy, Gillian Johnston accelerated into a breakaway and shot a pass to Pelon Sterling, who sent it to Sugar Erskine. Erskine drove it in to pull Coca-Cola ahead of Lechuza Caracas 2-0. A penalty conversion by Juan Martin Nero put Lechuza Caracas into contender status. Arellano took charge and scored his second goal of the match, making the score 3-1 at the end of the first chukker.

Johnston took off flat-out from the bowl-in, scoring again for Coca-Cola. Agustin Garcia Grossi dodged defenders to begin closing the gap 4-2. Sterling hit a strong backshot to Erskine, who sealed the deal with a neck shot. Victor Vargas scored his first goal of the game, swiftly pulling Lechuza Caracas along to make the score 5-3. Sterling hit a penalty five from the point of the infraction, shooting a pass to Arellano, who maneuvered through traffic to score. Garcia Grossi ran the ball into the goal mouth to score the last point of the second chukker and make the score 6-4.

The third chukker was a battle of wills, with both teams making numerous wide attempts on goal. A challenge by Coca-Cola on ball placement awarded resulted in a penalty four, which Arellano converted with a lofted shot to make the score 7-4. Arellano continued his streak from the penalty line in the fourth chukker, trotting up to take the penalty shot and doubling Coca-Cola’s lead to 8-4. Garcia Grossi followed up his cutshot by tapping the ball in to chip away for Lechuza Caracas.

Nico Pieres followed up Garcia Grossi’s efforts with a penalty conversion, walking up to the ball in his signature style. Garcia Grossi once again put the ball through the uprights in traffic, ending the fourth chukker 8-7. Coca-Cola came out guns blazing in the fifth chukker, with every member of the team touching the ball before Erskine put it into the goal. Erskine won the bowl-in and made a beautiful run down field to score, with Johnston assisting by taking out the defender.

Nero took advantage of a Coca-Cola miscue, shooting a pass to Vargas, who drove it in for a goal. The sixth chukker was fraught with big runs and goal attempts, but no points were scored. Coca-Cola ultimately got the better of Lechuza Caracas, and the match ended 10-8.

Erskine said he considered the game a close call but said it still had the element of fun that Coca-Cola’s play is known for. “We had fun, and obviously it was close enough to where it could have gone either way,” he said.

Arellano attributed Coca-Cola’s success to solid teamwork by each of its players. “Everybody played really, really well, especially Sugar,” he said. “He came out and played great defense today right off the bat, and that was key. Everybody else did their part, and did what they were supposed to do.”

International Polo Club Palm Beach Fast Facts

What: Created by players for players, the International Polo Club Palm Beach was born out of the dream to build a facility to showcase the incredible skills of the ponies and players that dominate the sport.

Members and guests enjoy panoramic views of the action from field side box seats or lawn and terrace seating. Sponsors and fans convene at The Winners Circle to congratulate the players during the awards presentation following the games.

Gourmet brunches, après polo celebrations and the prerequisite charitable events will take place in The Pavilion, designed to accommodate large parties, corporate clients, as well as family and friends.

Featured Highlights:

Herbie Pennell Cup – 20 Goal
Jan. 1-4, 2015

Joe Barry Memorial Cup – 20 Goal
Jan. 4-25, 2015

Ylvisaker Cup – 20 Goal
Jan. 28 – February 22, 2015

Iglehart Cup – 20 Goal
Feb. 28 – March 8, 2015

USPA C. V. Whitney Cup – 26 Goal
Feb. 15 – March 1, 2015

Piaget USPA Gold Cup® – 26 Goal
March 4-22, 2015

111th Maserati U.S. Open Polo Championship® – 26 Goal
March 25 – April 19, 2015

Directions:

From the Turnpike:
Take the Lake Worth Exit
Head west on FL-802 W/Lake Worth Rd toward Hooks Rd
Continue to follow Lake Worth Rd (3.9 miles)
Turn right onto 120th Ave S
Destination will be ahead on the left (0.4 miles)

From I-95:
Exit Forest Hill Blvd, head West
Make Left turn onto 441/St Rd 7
Make Right turn onto Lake Worth Rd
Make Right turn onto 120th Ave S
Destination on Left

Information:
3667 120th Ave S, Wellington, FL 33414
International Polo Club Palm Beach: 561-204-5687
Mallet Grille: 561-282-5340
Spa & Fitness Center: 561-282-5288
Tennis Pro Shop: 561-795-7228
Polo Operations Office: 561-282-5283
Polo Hotline: 561-282-5290

Website:
www.internationalpoloclub.com

For Tickets:
http://internationalpoloclub.ticketleap.com/

Hotels:
Hampton Inn & Suites – (561) 472-9696 – Approximately 2 miles
Hampton Inn – (561) 472-5980 – Approximately 4 miles
Four Seasons Resort – (561) 582-2800 – Approximately 9 miles
The Breakers – (561) 655-6611 – Approximately 9 miles
Kimpton Tideline Ocean Resort & Spa – (561) 540-6440 – Approximately 9 miles

Management:
John Wash – President of Club Operations
jwash@internationalpoloclub.com
561-282-5353

MEDIA CONTACT:
Phelps Media Group, Inc.
12012 South Shore Blvd #105
Wellington, FL 33414
561-753-3389 (phone)
561-753-3386 (fax)
pmginfo@phelpsmediagroup.com
PhelpsMediaGroup.com

Tonkawa Captures Iglehart Cup

Facundo Obregon and Gonzalo Deltour. Photos: Liz Lamont Images/Phelps Media Group.

Wellington, FL – March 7, 2015 – A single point made all the difference in both games Saturday at the International Polo Club Palm Beach. Tonkawa trotted off with the Iglehart Cup, and CT Energia rode home with the Glenn Hart Cup. Tonkawa defeated Palm Beach Illustrated 12-11, and CT Energia bested Tackeria 10-9 in the finals of the 20-goal tournament and subsidiary.

In the Iglehart Cup, Gonzalo Deltour was named MVP and his horse, Manca, was Best-Playing Pony. Joao Paulo Ganon was MVP and his horse Lilli was BPP in the Glenn Hart.

What do you do when everything is at stake, and absolutely everything is going against you? If you’re playing for Tonkawa, you ignore it and push on until you win.

In the same comeback-kid mode with which it won the semifinals four days ago, Tonkawa trailed for the first two chukkers, evened the score at the top of the third and then slammed the door on Palm Beach Illustrated. The first half ended with Tonkawa leading by one point and eventually winning by the same margin.

At the outset things were looking pretty grim for the quartet in white. Although Inaki Laprida scored in the first chukker, it turned out to be Tonkawa’s only goal for the period. Immediately afterward a costly foul resulted in an automatic point for Palm Beach Illustrated, which slid into a one-point lead. With Tonkawa still scrambling to get its balance in the second chukker, its nemesis capitalized on a rapid-fire succession of goals by Jared Zenni and Facundo Obregon (the latter on a slick Michel Dorignac assist).

Palm Beach Illustrated’s coastal surge didn’t last long, however. Laprida and Deltour, both seven-goal powerhouses, synced their playbooks in the third chukker. They made the majority of Tonkawa’s goals, generally by passing or through defensive moves that enabled the other to score. Deltour tied the game at 5-all in the third chukker and then ramped it up to make three more goals in a row. He was the game high-scorer with seven goals.

On fire and nowhere near running out of fuel, Deltour was as fierce on defense as he was on offense. Going for the “fear factor,” as announcer Gus Whitelaw put it, Deltour stormed the field like a fighter pilot, swooping in wherever the ball went. He seemed to delight in giving Michel Dorignac (not one who is easily intimidated) a run for his money. Deltour stole the ball from him, lost it on a bounce but stayed on his trajectory. He snatched the ball back as though he had planned it that way and ran it to goal.

With that Tonkawa moved into the lead and never looked back. The gap widened to four points in the fifth chukker when Deltour sent a high-flyer to Jeff Blake. Blake slapped it in, making the score 9-5. By then Palm Beach Illustrated hadn’t scored since the second chukker. Facundo Obregon and Zenni reactivated their team’s verve with a couple of goals, but to no avail, as Deltour and Laprida had melded into an impenetrable wall of power.

Undaunted, Dorignac poured the pressure on. He worked his way through a pack of white shirts, zigzagging as though trying to outfox a sniper (not a bad idea with Deltour and Laprida closing in on him). Dorignac found a window and passed the ball to Tommy Collingwood, whose shot to goal narrowed Tonkawa’s lead to one point (10-9). Another goal by each team ended the match 11-10.

The challenge of playing in a final was compounded by the light but steady rain throughout the game. Players said the field held up fine, but maneuvering a horse and mallet was something else. Blake said the conditions made the game challenging.

With their reins as slippery as seaweed and the ball behaving like a tennis ball as it bounced and skidded on a whim, how did Tonkawa’s players manage to seize control of the game?

“I really don’t know,” said a soggy Deltour with a wry smile.

“We started to slip behind, and then we just started hitting balls and playing better together, all of us. That’s it.”

Blake said his teammates “started in the rain and kept it together. Both teams played really hard. It could have been anyone’s game, but we came out with one more goal.”

CT Energia Squeaks by Tackeria in Glen Hart Cup Final

CT Energia finished the season on a high note, winning the Glen Hart Cup 10-9 over Tackeria, hosted by International Polo Club Palm Beach. The Glen Hart Cup is a new tournament for 2015 and is the second tier tournament to the 20 goal Iglehart Cup. Hart was the longtime pro for Skey Johnston and a much-loved fixture in the polo community, who passed away last year.

Matt Coppola
Matt Coppola

The weather was wet and windy to start the match, but that did not deter the players. Matt Coppola delivered a goal from the field for Tackeria that was followed in short order by Joao Paolo Ganon juking and jiving through the defenders for a score for CT Energia. The score was even at 2-2 at the end of the first chukker.

The rain came down even harder in the second chukker and started to affect the players. Nick Manifold scored early for CT Energia. The Tackeria team had several drives down field that stymied by the rain, finally evening up the score on a penalty two at the close of the chukker.

Conditions improved and so did the scoring in the third chukker. Ganon met the pack on a handy horse for a steal and a goal and was followed quickly by Alessandro Bazzoni scoring on the south end. Tackeria got a goal from Pelon Escapite but Ganon ran the ball coast to coast on a big brown horse to close out the half strong for CT Energia with a 6-4 lead.

Ganon continued his scoring ways after the halftime break, but then Malcolm Borwick put in two field goals for Tackeria, aided by the strong blocking from his teammates. The Tackeria teamwork led to two more goals from Alejandro Gonzalez in the fifth chukker. The Tackeria momentum was checked momentarily by a penalty one against them, but then Coppola tied the match at 9 all for Tackeria on a nearside with an assist from Escapite.

Tommy Biddle, substituting in this match for Kris Kampsen, scored a penalty four from the 60 yard line to make the score 10-9 in favor of CT Energia at the beginning of the sixth chukker. The teams battled it out for the remainder of the sixth chukker but Biddle’s goal proved to be the go ahead goal; CT Energia clung to the lead for the victory.

Joao Paolo Ganon was selected MVP, he led all scorers with five goals. His beautiful mare Lily was awarded Best Playing Pony.

CT Energia patron Alessandro Bazzoni said as he carried the trophy away, “It was nice to win a game this season. Now we have to get ready for next season!”

The USPA Piaget Gold Cup resumes Sunday at IPC, with four games. At 10 a.m. Audi plays Engel & Völkers and Alegria faces Las Monjitas. Coca-Cola plays Lechuza Caracas at noon, followed by Orchard Hill versus. Valiente in the featured match at 3 p.m.

International Polo Club Palm Beach Fast Facts

What: Created by players for players, the International Polo Club Palm Beach was born out of the dream to build a facility to showcase the incredible skills of the ponies and players that dominate the sport.

Members and guests enjoy panoramic views of the action from field side box seats or lawn and terrace seating. Sponsors and fans convene at The Winners Circle to congratulate the players during the awards presentation following the games.

Gourmet brunches, après polo celebrations and the prerequisite charitable events will take place in The Pavilion, designed to accommodate large parties, corporate clients, as well as family and friends.

Featured Highlights:

Herbie Pennell Cup – 20 Goal
Jan. 1-4, 2015

Joe Barry Memorial Cup – 20 Goal
Jan. 4-25, 2015

Ylvisaker Cup – 20 Goal
Jan. 28 – February 22, 2015

Iglehart Cup – 20 Goal
Feb. 28 – March 8, 2015

USPA C. V. Whitney Cup – 26 Goal
Feb. 15 – March 1, 2015

Piaget USPA Gold Cup® – 26 Goal
March 4-22, 2015

111th Maserati U.S. Open Polo Championship® – 26 Goal
March 25 – April 19, 2015

Directions:

From the Turnpike:
Take the Lake Worth Exit
Head west on FL-802 W/Lake Worth Rd toward Hooks Rd
Continue to follow Lake Worth Rd (3.9 miles)
Turn right onto 120th Ave S
Destination will be ahead on the left (0.4 miles)

From I-95:
Exit Forest Hill Blvd, head West
Make Left turn onto 441/St Rd 7
Make Right turn onto Lake Worth Rd
Make Right turn onto 120th Ave S
Destination on Left

Information:
3667 120th Ave S, Wellington, FL 33414
International Polo Club Palm Beach: 561-204-5687
Mallet Grille: 561-282-5340
Spa & Fitness Center: 561-282-5288
Tennis Pro Shop: 561-795-7228
Polo Operations Office: 561-282-5283
Polo Hotline: 561-282-5290

Website:
www.internationalpoloclub.com

For Tickets:
http://internationalpoloclub.ticketleap.com/

Hotels:
Hampton Inn & Suites – (561) 472-9696 – Approximately 2 miles
Hampton Inn – (561) 472-5980 – Approximately 4 miles
Four Seasons Resort – (561) 582-2800 – Approximately 9 miles
The Breakers – (561) 655-6611 – Approximately 9 miles
Kimpton Tideline Ocean Resort & Spa – (561) 540-6440 – Approximately 9 miles

Management:
John Wash – President of Club Operations
jwash@internationalpoloclub.com
561-282-5353

MEDIA CONTACT:
Phelps Media Group, Inc.
12012 South Shore Blvd #105
Wellington, FL 33414
561-753-3389 (phone)
561-753-3386 (fax)
pmginfo@phelpsmediagroup.com
PhelpsMediaGroup.com

Orchard Hill Harvests Another 26-Goal Win

Sugar Erskine and Polito Pieres. Photo: Liz Lamont Images/Phelps Media Group.

Wellington, FL – March 5, 2015 – The second leg of the 2015 Triple Crown of polo took off in full force Thursday at the International Polo Club Palm Beach, which hosted three of the day’s four matches. In opening day play for the 26-goal USPA Piaget Gold Cup, Orchard Hill defeated Coca-Cola 13-12 and Lechuza Caracas won over Valiente 14-13 (both in overtime). Las Monjitas defeated Engel & Völkers 18-8, and Audi took Alegria 16-13.

After its second consecutive 26-goal win of the season, Steve Van Andel burst into the Orchard Hill tent with big news for the team: “I got the penalty one, so I have to buy dinner tonight!”

Facundo Pieres lobbed a quick comeback: “And I get to pick the place!”

Van Andel, erupting in laughter, surely would have granted Pieres three wishes if he had a genie in a bottle. Who wouldn’t for a teammate who had just scored 10 goals, including the overtime punch that won the match?

The first two chukkers offered not even an inkling that the game would go down to the wire. Other than two points by 10-goaler Pelon Sterling, Coca-Cola was hard-pressed to muster an offense. Orchard Hill ran its opponents ragged for a sustained stretch, making six goals (four of them courtesy of Pieres).

Coca-Cola regrouped and went all-out with its defense. Suddenly it seemed that Sterling had devoted his life to pressuring one Pieres or another (cousins Facundo and Polito Pieres both played for Orchard Hill). Sterling had ample opportunity to do so, as most of the time a Pieres was either running the ball down the field or passing it to his counterpart. As the point spread widened, Sterling ratcheted up the ante. In the middle of the second chukker he tried to fend a determined Polito Pieres off the ball, engaging him in mallet play so intense that announcer Gus Whitelaw quipped, “It sounds like a sword fight out there!” The winner of the duel was Pieres & Co., with Polito Pieres pulling off a tag-team pass to Facundo Pieres, who scored.

A seismic shift happened in the third chukker. With Sterling leading the charge, Coca-Cola decided to make it a contest. In a blaze of red (jerseys, saddle pads and leg wraps), the team racked up three goals and was awarded a fourth as an automatic goal, all the while keeping Orchard Hill scoreless. By the end of the first half, Coca-Cola had gone from trailing by four points to tying the game (6-6). That set the tone for the rest of the match, with Coca-Cola remaining revved on both defense and offense.

Orchard Hill systematically slid back into scoring mode. As Van Andel explained, “Coca-Cola played man-to-man really well, and we had a couple of bad breaks. After that it takes a little while to get your momentum back, and that’s what happened.”

The second half played out like a clip from “Groundhog Day,” with the score ping-ponging from tied to a one- or two-point lead and then back to a tie. The last three chukkers were almost indistinguishable from one another. Each chukker ended in a tie (8-all at the end of the fourth chukker; 9 after the fifth and 12 at the end of the sixth). Both teams scored twice in the fourth (a field goal and a penalty) and three times in the sixth (two field goals and a penalty). Each got a point in the fifth, with Polito Pieres scoring from the field and Coca-Cola being awarded another automatic goal.

Parallels aside, the second half was fraught with nail-biting moments, regardless which team one was rooting for. The sidelines were electric as Gillian Johnston accelerated into going-going-gone on one of her gray speed sticks. Taking a pass from Julio Arellano, she opened her horse up, moving light years ahead of the pack to run the ball into goal. Arellano, meanwhile, took over the Facundo-Polito watch from Sterling, trying mightily to shut down any Pieres passing.

A fired-up Sugar Erskine kept Coca-Cola in the game to the very end. With less than two minutes left in the sixth chukker, he tied the score at 12, where it stood at the end of regulation play. Coca-Cola saw a glimmer of hope when Facundo Pieres’s first shot on goal in overtime went wide, but he didn’t let that stand for long. A whistle on an Erskine play handed the game to back to Orchard Hill, with Facundo Pieres scoring from the line.

The victory was frosting on this season’s winning streak by Orchard Hill, which won the 20-goal Joe Barry Cup in January and clinched the 26-goal C. V. Whitney Cup last Sunday. As Facundo Pieres observed, four days is a very short time between two 26-goal games.

“It’s always hard (playing) the first game of a tournament after winning a tournament,” he said. “It’s hard for everybody to come back. When you win a tournament you’re happy, and sometimes you need a little bit of rest for the horses.” On top of that, he said, Coca-Cola is always a formidable opponent. “We knew this was going to be a tough game, and it was. I think under all those circumstances, we did pretty good beating them.”

Lechuza Caracas Defeats Valiente in Epic Overtime Finish

Lechuza Caracas had the benefit of a little luck and a lot of skill to defeat defending champion Valiente 14-13 in a thrilling sudden death overtime finish in the first round of the USPA Piaget Gold Cup, hosted by the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC).

“That was a tough game. Both teams played very well,” said a jubilant but exhausted Juan Martin Nero after the match. “We were lucky that Nico made the penalty four (to tie the match at 13-all) and then in the extra chukker I got lucky, very lucky!”

Ten-goaler Nero created his own luck throughout the match, most importantly in the sudden death overtime period when he sent the game-winning goal soaring over the heads of the Valiente defenders from nearly 80 yards out from goal.

The game was spectacular from start to finish. Agustin Garcia Grossi started the scoring off with a beautiful back shot that centered the ball on the goal line for teammate Nico Pieres to tap in. The first half was fast and flowing on the Lechuza Caracas field. The umpires were diligent in calling delay of game penalties when players tapped the ball too often in attempts to slow down the pace, which encouraged the teams to hit passes to teammates and open up the game. As a consequence, almost all the goals in the first half came from the field.

Despite the home field advantage, Lechuza trailed Valiente by a goal heading into halftime. Valiente enjoyed a 6-5 lead behind the hot stick of Guillermo Terrera, who had four first-half goals

Pieres quickly equalized the score after halftime on a neck shot. From then on it was a neck-and-neck race to the finish, with neither team yielding more than a one-goal lead to the other. Both patrons contributed to the scoring in the fifth. First Victor Vargas hit a strong cutshot to goal on the north end, and then Bob Jornayvaz retaliated by following up Adolfo Cambiaso for a goal shot. The teams battled to an even score of 10-all at the end of the fifth chukker.

Cambiaso came out in the sixth on a mission to make things happen. He controlled the play at the boards, and then muscled by the defenders on a speedy horse to send a neckshot to goal. Lechuza countered with a pair of goals from Pieres, only to see Terrara win the subsequent lineup and immediately run to goal to tie the score again at 12-12. With just over a minute remaining, Lechuza fouled and Valiente was awarded a penalty five from midfield. Cambiaso marshaled his troops, gave them their instructions and marched the ball downfield. Nero made the hook on Cambiaso, but Jornayvaz was perfectly positioned to stroke the ball though the goal and give Valiente the lead, 13-12.

As the teams rode back to the lineup, a few spectators started to leave, thinking the game was essentially over. But then disaster struck for Valiente. A costly foul in the bowl-in by the team in blue resulted in a penalty awarded in favor of Lechuza with just seven seconds remaining before the warning horn. The ball was first placed on the center line for a penalty five, but Lechuza challenged. Based on the instant replay, the ball was moved up to the 60-yard line for a penalty four. Pieres walked his horse up to the ball, as calm as if he was practicing on his own farm in Argentina, and sent the ball high and straight through the goal posts to send the game into overtime.

Cambiaso won the first bowl-in of the overtime period, but as he ran to goal the ball took a bad bounce and was backed away by a Lechuza defender. Pieres took possession of the ball and arrowed a pass to Nero. Nero broke the hearts of the Valiente players as he sent a perfect shot to goal to win the match 14-13 for Lechuza.

Instant replay was crucial in the match, especially on the last call for Lechuza that resulted in a penalty four for the team. “That was the first challenge we ever won!” said Nero.

Pieres played a strong game for Lechuza, scoring a game high of 10 goals and sending it into overtime on the key penalty four conversion. What thoughts were running through his mind as he rode his horse up to the ball for the final penalty shot? “I knew I had to put that one in because if not, I had to give a barbecue to Flaco!” he said, referring to teammate Grossi.

Lechuza and Valiente next play on Sunday in the second round of the USPA Piaget Gold Cup at IPC.

Las Monjitas Wins with Authority
Defeats Engel & Völkers 18-8

Las Monjitas defeated Engel & Völkers 18-8 in bracket play in the USPA Piaget Gold Cup at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC).

The match started off with Engel & Völkers in the lead by two points due to their handicap. It quickly took the initiative to increase that lead with Kris Kampsen scoring the first goal on the field from the bowl-in. Kampsen continued to increase the Engel & Völkers lead by converting a penalty shot later in the chukker. Facundo Sola promptly went to work closing the gap, scoring three goals by the end of the first chukker to make the score 4-3.

For the rest of the half, Las Monjitas held a commanding lead. Combining an excellent passing game with an uncanny ability to read plays, Sebastian Merlos racked up four goals. Eduardo Astrada and Sola each scored once, with both frequently assisting Merlos on the way to the goal mouth. Engel & Völkers fought valiantly as Las Monjitas’s lead grew. A major defensive effort by his teammates allowed Matias Magrini to drive in a goal during the second chukker. The first half ended 9-5 in favor of Las Monjitas.

Las Monjitas continued its dominance in the fourth chukker. Astrada scored on an assist from Camilo Bautista, and Sola demonstrated his skill from the penalty line to make the score 11-5. Astrada made what was undoubtedly the play of the game, dribbling the ball on bounces before driving it in to goal. An aggressive defensive play by Jared Zenni helped Santi Torres thread the needle to put another point on the scoreboard for Engel & Völkers, making the score 14-6. Torres again wove through traffic for Kampsen to tap the ball through the uprights, ending the fifth chukker 15-7.

Torres made an impressive trick play to start out the sixth chukker, hitting the ball under the belly of the defender’s horse as he dodged around him and drove in a goal. Merlos ran the ball in to score, and Astrada added two more goals to his tally by the end of the chukker. Ultimately Las Monjitas sewed up the game 18-8.

Merlos credited his team’s strategy and increased time playing together for its success.

“It was a very tough beginning. We knew they were going to be very alert and ready, so it was very important to win the ball at the throw-ins,” said Merlos. “Our horses went great, and I think we took advantage of that. I’m very comfortable with the team. We are starting to know each other. Obviously we always need to fix little mistakes, but since our first match we are a much better team.”

Audi Calls the Shots, Defeats Alegria Assist Card 16-13

Audi defeated Alegria Assist Card 16-13 in bracket play in the USPA Piaget Gold Cup at the International Polo Club Palm Beach.

The match took off to a running start with Fred Mannix exploding into a gallop out of the throw-in to drive in a goal and make the score 2-0 (with Audi’s one-goal handicap). Gonzalito Pieres demonstrated his penalty shooting prowess by sinking two shots in a row. Alegria Assist Card fired back with three goals, narrowing Audi’s lead to one point. Pieres and Rodrigo Andrade added more goals to Audi’s tally, ending the first chukker 6-3 for Audi.

Alegria Assist Card was “snake-bit,” as announcer Toby Wayman called it, in the second chukker with several penalty shots going wide. Andrade drove a long pass downfield for Marc Ganzi, who finished the job and made the score 7-3. Fred Mannix flipped another goal in for Audi. The rest of the chukker proved thrilling as both teams fought to assert dominance in ride-off after ride-off at a wide-open pace.

Pieres continued his hot streak from the penalty line, racking up three more conversions in the third chukker. Alegria Assist Card gained two goals from the field, making the score 11-6 at the half. In the fourth chukker Pieres was the driving force for the Audi team, completing a penalty conversion and assisting Andrade on a goal to make the score 13-6. Hilario Ulloa converted two penalty shots in the fourth and fifth chukkers to make some headway against Audi’s lead.

Andrade picked up a goal as the fifth chukker continued to showcase the athleticism of horses and players in high-octane ride-offs. Julian Mannix made a remarkable play, picking up Ganzi’s backshot to score for Alegria Assist Card. Andrade shot an impressive cut shot to end the chukker 15-9.

Alegria Assist Card was awarded a penalty one to make the score 15-10 in the sixth chukker. Julian Mannix led the charge in the Alegria Assist Card comeback, converting to bring his team within three points of Audi. Ulloa dodged defenders to drive the ball in for a goal. Andrade made the final goal of the match off the goal post to end the chukker 16-13.

Ganzi said he felt his team’s strategy going into the match paid off in its success. “We had a really outstanding first half, and we set the tone early. We were prepared to match their physicality, and I think they were surprised by that,” said Ganzi. “We’re not really known as a physical team, and today we were extremely physical. They’re such a good team, and we have a lot of respect for them.”

Pieres concurred with regard to strategy. “We knew it was really important for us to win this game, and we came with a good strategy,” he said. “I think we won this game in the first five chukkers.”

Play continues Sunday at IPC at 10 a.m., with Alegria Assist Card taking on Las Monjitas and Audi playing Engel & Völkers. Coca-Cola will battle it out with Lechuza Caracas at noon, and Orchard Hill will take on Valiente in what promises to be a spectacular feature match at 3 p.m.

International Polo Club Palm Beach Fast Facts

What: Created by players for players, the International Polo Club Palm Beach was born out of the dream to build a facility to showcase the incredible skills of the ponies and players that dominate the sport.

Members and guests enjoy panoramic views of the action from field side box seats or lawn and terrace seating. Sponsors and fans convene at The Winners Circle to congratulate the players during the awards presentation following the games.

Gourmet brunches, après polo celebrations and the prerequisite charitable events will take place in The Pavilion, designed to accommodate large parties, corporate clients, as well as family and friends.

Featured Highlights:

Herbie Pennell Cup – 20 Goal
Jan. 1-4, 2015

Joe Barry Memorial Cup – 20 Goal
Jan. 4-25, 2015

Ylvisaker Cup – 20 Goal
Jan. 28 – February 22, 2015

Iglehart Cup – 20 Goal
Feb. 28 – March 8, 2015

USPA C. V. Whitney Cup – 26 Goal
Feb. 15 – March 1, 2015

Piaget USPA Gold Cup® – 26 Goal
March 4-22, 2015

111th Maserati U.S. Open Polo Championship® – 26 Goal
March 25 – April 19, 2015

Directions:

From the Turnpike:
Take the Lake Worth Exit
Head west on FL-802 W/Lake Worth Rd toward Hooks Rd
Continue to follow Lake Worth Rd (3.9 miles)
Turn right onto 120th Ave S
Destination will be ahead on the left (0.4 miles)

From I-95:
Exit Forest Hill Blvd, head West
Make Left turn onto 441/St Rd 7
Make Right turn onto Lake Worth Rd
Make Right turn onto 120th Ave S
Destination on Left

Information:
3667 120th Ave S, Wellington, FL 33414
International Polo Club Palm Beach: 561-204-5687
Mallet Grille: 561-282-5340
Spa & Fitness Center: 561-282-5288
Tennis Pro Shop: 561-795-7228
Polo Operations Office: 561-282-5283
Polo Hotline: 561-282-5290

Website:
www.internationalpoloclub.com

For Tickets:
http://internationalpoloclub.ticketleap.com/

Hotels:
Hampton Inn & Suites – (561) 472-9696 – Approximately 2 miles
Hampton Inn – (561) 472-5980 – Approximately 4 miles
Four Seasons Resort – (561) 582-2800 – Approximately 9 miles
The Breakers – (561) 655-6611 – Approximately 9 miles
Kimpton Tideline Ocean Resort & Spa – (561) 540-6440 – Approximately 9 miles

Management:
John Wash – President of Club Operations
jwash@internationalpoloclub.com
561-282-5353

MEDIA CONTACT:
Phelps Media Group, Inc.
12012 South Shore Blvd #105
Wellington, FL 33414
561-753-3389 (phone)
561-753-3386 (fax)
pmginfo@phelpsmediagroup.com
PhelpsMediaGroup.com

Palm Beach Illustrated and Tonkawa Clinch Spots in Iglehart Cup Final

Facundo Obregon and Kris Kampsen. Photo: Liz Lamont Images/Phelps Media Group.

Smooth Sailing for Palm Beach Illustrated in 10-7 Win over CT Energia

Wellington, Florida – March 3, 2015 – Palm Beach Illustrated and Tonkawa will advance to the 20-goal Iglehart Cup Final on Saturday at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC). In Tuesday’s semifinals, Palm Beach Illustrated bested CT Energia 10-7 and Tonkawa took Villa del Lago 13-8.

If a polo match had a mantra, this one would have been slow and steady wins the race. Palm Beach Illustrated’s play was a textbook example of how to win a polo game with drama-free determination – and still keep things interesting.

Regardless whether it was leading, trailing or tied, Palm Beach Illustrated kept cruising around the field with cool-headed control and consistency. There weren’t more than a handful of whistles during the entire match, and only two goals were made on penalty shots. That’s not to say there weren’t some supersonic ride-offs and mano-a-mano moments, but all in all it was a relatively smooth ride to victory.

“I was confident from the beginning that we were going to do well. We were patient and leading for the entire game,” said Michel Dorignac, noting that his teammates have been working well together and playing consistently in their last few games. “So far it’s been great fun. I think one of the reasons is that it’s a very balanced team. Everyone on the team can play polo, take the men and carry the ball. So we only have to hit and run and be smart. That’s it.”

As easy as he made it sound – and as easy as Palm Beach Illustrated made it look much of the time Tuesday – high-goal polo is never a cakewalk. The game began in fits and starts, with CT Energia trying its darnedest to give its opponents a few gray hairs. CT Energia made some initial headway, scoring once in each of the first two chukkers and mounting a strong defense that thwarted Palm Beach Illustrated from scoring in the second.

“We missed six or seven (shots on goal) in the second chukker,” said Jared Zenni. “But after that we started making a little more space for each player so that they had more time and could really define the goals.”

That adjustment worked as intended for Palm Beach Illustrated. The team made two goals in the third chucker and kept its opponent off the board. In the opening moments of the second half, Tommy Collingwood stretched Palm Beach Illustrated’s lead to three points. That triggered a collective comeback by CT Energia, with three of its members contributing to a beautifully orchestrated goal. Nic Manifold stopped the ball long enough for Kris Kampsen to come through with a powerhouse of a backshot. As the pack scampered downfield, Manifold read the play perfectly. He took the ball on a breakaway, surprising his opponents by backing off just before the goal mouth to allow super-scorer Joao Paulo Ganon to finish the play and score.

For a time it looked like CT Energia was getting its groove back. The team jumped into the mix at the top of the fifth chukker with three quick goals from the field, two of them by an energized Alessandro Bazzoni. Then with the ball suddenly hurtling toward him, Kampsen – with the wingspan of a pterodactyl – stabbed it out of the air and sent it into goal. That brought CT Energia into true contender status, with only one point separating it from the leader. Palm Beach Illustrated wasn’t about to let that stand for long, however. Dorignac made his third and fourth goals of the day in the final chukker, with the game ending 10-7 for Palm Beach Illustrated.

Collingwood attributed his team’s success to discipline. “We kept pushing forward, playing open, listening to our teammates, everybody doing his part of the job,” he said. “We got a few lucky bounces off the horses that maybe helped out, but I think we just played really well.”

The much-anticipated 26-goal USPA Piaget Gold Cup opens Thursday at IPC with four high-octane matches starting at 10 a.m. and continuing throughout the day. The lineup: Orchard Hill vs. Coca-Cola; Valiente vs. Lechuza Caracas; Engel & Völkers vs. Las Monjitas, and Alegria vs. Audi.

Tonkawa Takes Command, Defeats Villa del Lago 13-8

Tonkawa defeated Villa del Lago 13-8 in the semifinal of the Iglehart Cup at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC).

The match started off with dominant play by Polito Pieres, fresh off a win in the C.V. Whitney Cup with his Orchard Hill squad. In his high-octane style, Pieres went on a scoring spree, using his teammates as battering rams to run the ball up the field. Villa del Lago racked up three goals in the first chukker.

The game took a quick turn in the second chukker, however. Tonkawa gained momentum when Gonzalo Deltour took off on a hot streak, scoring his team’s first goal on a nearside neckshot. He followed that up with two penalty conversions to tighten Villa del Lago’s lead to one point (4-3).

Tonkawa took control in the third chukker, driving in goal after goal and keeping a wide-open pace. A high-speed goal by Agustin Obregon and a penalty conversion by Pieres kept Villa del Lago in the match, tying the score 6-6 at the half.

The fourth chukker remained tight as Tonkawa and Villa del Lago fought for control, but Tonkawa pulled ahead 9-7. Inaki LaPrida and Deltour demonstrated brilliant team work in the fifth chukker, hitting passes seamlessly on the run and racking up three more goals. The sixth chukker was a pitched battle as each team went all out. Villa del Lago put its passing game to work. Julian de Lusarreta crushed a pass to Pieres, who sent it to Obregon for a run into goal, sewing up a 13-8 victory for Tonkawa.

“It was a tough match. Today we had the lineup that we didn’t have the last tournament,” said Deltour. He typically plays the number two position but was number one in the match against Villa del Lago. All in all, he said, “We played good open polo. My thanks to my teammates. They played really well.”

The much-anticipated 26-goal USPA Piaget Gold Cup opens Thursday at IPC with four high-octane matches starting at 10 a.m. and continuing throughout the day. The lineup: Orchard Hill vs. Coca-Cola; Valiente vs. Lechuza Caracas; Engel & Völkers vs. Las Monjitas, and Alegria vs. Audi.

International Polo Club Palm Beach Fast Facts

What: Created by players for players, the International Polo Club Palm Beach was born out of the dream to build a facility to showcase the incredible skills of the ponies and players that dominate the sport.

Members and guests enjoy panoramic views of the action from field side box seats or lawn and terrace seating. Sponsors and fans convene at The Winners Circle to congratulate the players during the awards presentation following the games.

Gourmet brunches, après polo celebrations and the prerequisite charitable events will take place in The Pavilion, designed to accommodate large parties, corporate clients, as well as family and friends.

Featured Highlights:

Herbie Pennell Cup – 20 Goal
Jan. 1-4, 2015

Joe Barry Memorial Cup – 20 Goal
Jan. 4-25, 2015

Ylvisaker Cup – 20 Goal
Jan. 28 – February 22, 2015

Iglehart Cup – 20 Goal
Feb. 28 – March 8, 2015

USPA C. V. Whitney Cup – 26 Goal
Feb. 15 – March 1, 2015

Piaget USPA Gold Cup® – 26 Goal
March 4-22, 2015

111th Maserati U.S. Open Polo Championship® – 26 Goal
March 25 – April 19, 2015

Directions:

From the Turnpike:
Take the Lake Worth Exit
Head west on FL-802 W/Lake Worth Rd toward Hooks Rd
Continue to follow Lake Worth Rd (3.9 miles)
Turn right onto 120th Ave S
Destination will be ahead on the left (0.4 miles)

From I-95:
Exit Forest Hill Blvd, head West
Make Left turn onto 441/St Rd 7
Make Right turn onto Lake Worth Rd
Make Right turn onto 120th Ave S
Destination on Left

Information:
3667 120th Ave S, Wellington, FL 33414
International Polo Club Palm Beach: 561-204-5687
Mallet Grille: 561-282-5340
Spa & Fitness Center: 561-282-5288
Tennis Pro Shop: 561-795-7228
Polo Operations Office: 561-282-5283
Polo Hotline: 561-282-5290

Website:
www.internationalpoloclub.com

For Tickets:
http://internationalpoloclub.ticketleap.com/

Hotels:
Hampton Inn & Suites – (561) 472-9696 – Approximately 2 miles
Hampton Inn – (561) 472-5980 – Approximately 4 miles
Four Seasons Resort – (561) 582-2800 – Approximately 9 miles
The Breakers – (561) 655-6611 – Approximately 9 miles
Kimpton Tideline Ocean Resort & Spa – (561) 540-6440 – Approximately 9 miles

Management:
John Wash – President of Club Operations
jwash@internationalpoloclub.com
561-282-5353

MEDIA CONTACT:
Phelps Media Group, Inc.
12012 South Shore Blvd #105
Wellington, FL 33414
561-753-3389 (phone)
561-753-3386 (fax)
pmginfo@phelpsmediagroup.com
PhelpsMediaGroup.com