Audi, Grand Champions Win; Two World Polo League Games Sunday Including Afternoon Feature Game At Grand Champions Polo Club

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WELLINGTON, Fl., March 10, 2019---Audi won its second straight game and Grand Champions came up with a must-win Saturday in World Polo League Palm Beach Open action.

In a battle between Grand Champions Polo Club-based pro teams, Audi (Marc Ganzi, 2, Nic Roldan, 8, Pablo MacDonough, 10, Kris Kampsen, 6) held off Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, 0, Alfredo Bigatti, 8, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 8, Pablo Spinacci, 6), 13-11, at Jan Pamela Field.

In the second game, Grand Champions (Grant Ganzi, 3, Juancito Bollini, 4, Rodrigo Andrade, 9, Juan Martin Nero, 10) bounced back from its tournament-opening loss to Alegria, with an 8-5 victory over Black Watch (Juan Cruz Merlos, 5, Nacho Figueras, 6, Pite Merlos, 8, Tommy Biddle, 5) at Valiente Polo Farm.

Two exciting games are on tap for Sunday. At noon, Valiente and Colorado will renew its rivalry at Valiente Polo Farm Field 3. At 4 p.m. in the feature game at Grand Champions Polo Club Field 2, Alegria will play SD Farms, led by 10-goaler Adolfo Cambiaso.

In the opening game, Audi dominated most of the game leading for the first  four chukkers, 2-1, 6-2, 8-4 and 9-7. Flexjet rallied in the fifth chukker behind Melissa Ganzi to tie the game at 10-10 but Audi rebounded with a 3-1 final chukker to clinch its second win of the World Polo League.

"We gave up some easy goals in our last game on stupid fouls that we maybe could have not done in certain spots of the field where they weren't a threat," Roldan said. "Today we worked on that. I think we only gave up two fouls which was pretty good."

When Flexjet tied Audi 10-10 in the fifth chukker, Audi kept its composure.

"We just tried to keep our cool and stick to our system," Roldan said. "Like I always keep saying, I think our system really makes the team function well. We're really happy with the positioning and everyone seems to be getting more comfortable as the game progress. Now we have to focus on Black Watch."

Added MacDonough, "We realized after a few games we needed to change positions and the way we are playing now has been good. When it was 10-10 we had to stick to the plan and believe in it. If you start panicking then you don't play the way you want and get in trouble."

Novillo Astrada was impressed with his teammates comeback despite the loss.

"We had to start taking chances when they got their first goal in the last chukker," Novillo Astrada said. "They are a very good team. Marc is playing great and scored some amazing goals. They have a lot of potential.

"We are having a lot of fun with this team," Novillo Astrada said. "Melissa was a scoring machine. Every approach of hers was to the middle of the goal, her aim was perfect today."

Audi got balanced scoring from its lineup. Roldan scored a team-high five goals, Ganzi had four, McDonough added three and Kampsen had one.

Melissa Ganzi, the only woman competing in the World Polo League, scored a game-high eight goals. Novillo Astrada had two goals and Bigatti added one.

The second game may not have been pretty but it was important for Founders Cup champion Grand Champions, coming off its stunning loss to Alegria.

Grand Champions dominated the game, controlling the momentum and working well as a team. 

Grand Champions shut out Black Watch in the first half, 5-0. Black Watch scored its first goal with 3:48 left in the fourth chukker on Biddle's penalty conversion. Black Watch tried to dig itself out of a hole outscoring Grand Champions, 5-3, but ran out of time.

"We needed this win, if we had lost this game we were basically out," Ganzi said. "It was do or die for us. The horses went well. The team came out strong. It was nice to get that goal from me at the beginning, it was good for my confidence. 

"I thought we played a lot better today, we were more organized," Ganzi said. "Against Alegria we were disorganized and they caught us at the right time. They played really well, they had us tight, tight, tight. Gringo coming in was a whole other element. He was what was missing."

This time around, it was Grand Champions that was tight on defense.

"It was just being disciplined, it was the little things," Ganzi said. "I think we recovered well. I think we played well."

Grand Champions had balanced scoring. Andrade led with three goals, Ganzi and Nero each had two and Bollini added one goal. Figueras led Black Watch with three goals and Biddle had two.

The WPL is being live streamed on ESPN Deportes and ChukkerTV/Horseplay with Gus Whitelaw calling the action. For more information go to www.worldpolo.org.

Co-founded by Grand Champions owners Melissa and Marc Ganzi and Valiente Polo Farm owner Bob Jornayvaz, the World Polo League is the only 26-goal polo in the world outside of Argentina. The WPL is preserving the highest level of polo and its rich, hallowed tradition in the U.S. 

The WPL has its own set of simpler fan-friendly rules to improve the flow and action of the game.

The WPL, with 14 tournament-quality fields to play on, includes the All-Star Challenge Draw Tournament, Founders Cup, Palm Beach Open and Triple Crown of Polo.

The World Polo League is open to other teams that wish to compete in one or more of the tournaments. Games are offered on the flat (Open) and on Handicap.

The World Polo League has attracted a large international field of players from all corners of the world  including Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Nigeria, Uruguay and U.S.

Grand Champions and Valiente are also launching the U.S. National Mixed Doubles Championship, featuring two men and two women with combined handicaps, in March.

In addition to the World Polo League, season highlights for 2019 at Grand Champions are the Sterling Cup, $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament, John T. Oxley Memorial and $100,000 World Cup Tournament, a unique 0-40-goal, winner-take-all single-elimination tournament and WCT Final.

Grand Champions and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique polo facility in Wellington with 120 stalls in five self-contained barns, exercise track, five climate-controlled tack rooms, vet room, staff quarters, guest house and three polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation including one field for stick-and-ball with plans to build more polo fields in the future.

Candace Ferreira