Grand Champions Defeats Flexjet On Day Five Of Palm Beach Open; Tripleheader On Tap For Thursday

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WELLINGTON, Fl., March 13, 2019---The race to the championship final of the Palm Beach Open is heating up in the World Polo League.

Grand Champions (Grant Ganzi, 3, Juancito Bollini, 4, Rodrigo Andrade, 9, Juan Martin Nero, 10) kept its hopes alive with an 11-8 victory over Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, 0, Alfredo Bigatti, 8, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 8, Pablo Spinacci, 6) Tuesday at breezy Grand Champions Polo Club.

After a day's rest, three key games are on tap for Thursday. At 10 a.m., Colorado (2-0) plays Alegria (1-1) at Jan Pamela Field 3; 1 p.m. SD Farms (2-0) plays Valiente (0-2) at Valiente Polo Farm Field 2; and 4 p.m. Audi (2-0) plays Black Watch (0-2) at Valiente Field 3.

Grand Champions broke open a close game in the sixth chukker, outscoring Flexjet, 3-0. Grand Champions led four of the six chukkers while Flexjet outscored them, 3-0, in the second chukker and 2-1 in the fourth chukker. Grand Champions led 6-5 at the half and 9-8 going into the sixth chukker.

"It was a very fun game, that team is always fun, both teams tried to play open," 10-goaler Juan Martin Nero said. "It was a good game to play. We need to win. Our next game is Valiente [on Saturday] and we need a win. If not, we are out. We need to win to get into the semifinal. If not, we are out.

"This team is getting better and better with every game," Nero said. "The kids play in front and improve a lot. I think our team is good. I think Juancito and Grant made the difference today scoring goals in the front."

Despite its tournament-opening loss to Alegria, the Founders Cup champion is still alive in the race to the March 24th final at Grand Champions Polo Club, home to pro teams Audi, Flexjet and Grand Champions. 

"Every game is important," Ganzi said. "Obviously, we are doing a little bit better than when we started off. It comes down to Valiente. We have to see how they do against SD Farms and we have to win on Saturday.

"We have had our up moments and been playing pretty good polo but obviously need to do better in some aspects," Ganzi said. "We just have to focus on our next game and once we get into the semis it's do-or-die. We have to really play some good polo then."

The game pitted son against mother. Melissa Ganzi is the only woman competing in the World Polo League. The tight game came down to the sixth chukker.

"It's always important to play well in the end and luckily we have done that a lot this season except for the Alegria game," Ganzi said. "We'll see, it's going to be interesting to see who goes through. There are a couple teams in the mix. It's up for everyone.

"If you looked at the draw from the beginning of the tournament you couldn't have predicted what happened in a few of those games. Audi is going to dominate Valiente, Alegria is going to dominate us and Colorado is going to beat Valiente and be undefeated at the moment. A lot of things have happened I don't think people would have predicted. Colorado is a good team but Valiente is the best organization in the world and for them to beat them the other day was a huge win."

Grand Champions got balanced scoring out of its lineup. Bollini, Andrade and Nero each had three goals and Ganzi added two goals. 
For Flexjet, Melissa Ganzi and Astrada each had four goals. Ganzi has scored 12 goals in the last two games.

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, action and length 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