Audi, Colorado, Scone Win World Polo League Games; Patagones Plays Valiente Friday In Battle Of Unbeatens

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WELLINGTON, Fla., February 15, 2019---On a perfect day for polo in front of good crowds, Audi and Scone led for most of their games while Colorado remained unbeaten after a thrilling finish Thursday in World Polo League play.

In the first game of the All Star Challenge Draw Tournament tripleheader Thursday morning at Grand Champions Polo Club, Scone (David Paradice, 0, Guillermo Terrera, 8, Alejandro Taranco, 8, Juan Martin Nero, 10) defeated Grand Champions (Grant Ganzi, 3, Alfredo Bigatti, 8, Juancito Bollini, 4, Adolfo Cambiaso, 10), 14-10.

Colorado (Rob Jornayvaz, 2, Juan Martin Zubia, 7, Rodrigo Andrade, 9, Jero Del Carril, 7) remained undefeated (3-0) with a thrilling come-from-behind 10-9 victory over Flexjet (Gussie Busch, 1, Pablo Spinacci, 6, Diego Cavanagh, 9, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 8) at Santa Rita Polo Farm West (Buenos Aires Field).

In the final game of the day, Audi (Marc Ganzi, 2, Nic Roldan, 8, Pelon Stirling, 10, Kris Kampsen, 6) broke open a close game in the sixth chukker to hold off upset-minded Cria Yatay (Juan Cruz Merlos, 5, Nacho Figueras, 6, Pite Merlos, 8, Tommy Biddle, 5), 14-9, to win its first World Polo League game at Santa Rita Polo Farm East (Aspen Field).

On Friday at 4 p.m., Valiente (Agustin Nero, 6, Santi Torres, 6, Pablo MacDonough, 10, Poroto Cambiaso, 3) will host Patagones (Santi Wulff, 5, Santiago Toccalino, 8, Tomas Garcia del Rio, 8, Gonzalo Avendano, 2) in a battle of unbeatens in the semifinal to determine Colorado's opponent in Sunday's championshipl.

Scone won its second game of the tournament with an impressive win over Grand Champions. Scone has now defeated Flexjet, 11-9, and lost to Colorado, 11-9.

Grand Champions jumped out to a 4-2 lead in the opening chukker but fell behind quickly in the second with Scone outscoring them, 4-0, for a 6-4 advantage. Scone led the rest of the game, 8-6, 10-7 and 13-8.

For Scone, Terrera scored a game-high eight goals. Nero and Taranco each had three goals. Bigatti led Flexjet with four goals. Ganzi had two. Bollini and Cambiaso each had one goal.

Flexjet, looking to win its first game, was leading until the final two minutes when Colorado rallied for five goals in the final chukker after going scoreless in the fifth to win its third game of the tournament. 

With Flexjet leading, 9-8, Zubia scored the tying goal with 1:49 remaining. With less than a minute, Andrade won the throw-in to set up Zubia's long pass to Jornayvaz who scored with 34 seconds left to win the game.

"I don't think you can plan that," Jornayvaz said with a smile. 

With their backs against the wall for most of the game, Colorado was able to fine tune before Sunday's final.

"We came out a little bit relaxed today," Jornayvaz said. "We are in the finals already so you don't want to push any horse because there is no point in pushing a horse in this game.

"It was one of those games where it's sort of tough and you want to play but you can't really play," Jornayvaz said. "I think we did okay. It's nice to go into the final undefeated. We need to prep the horses and make sure they are ready and we'll be good to go. I'm excited to play with these guys."

Del Carril led Colorado with four goals. Zubia scored three goals, Jornayvaz added two and Andrade had one.

Spinacci led Flexjet with four goals, Cavanagh had two goals and Astrada added one goal. Gussie Busch, the son of polo player Billy Busch, 1991 U.S. Open winner with Grant's Farm Manor teammates Andy Busch, Mike Azzaro and Carlos Gracida, filled in for starter Melissa Ganzi in the lineup, and played well.

In the third and final game of the action-packed day, Audi won its first game in league play after struggling in the fourth and fifth chukkers.

Big-hitting Tommy Biddle rallied Cria Yatay in the second half after falling behind, 10-5, midway through the third chukker. After getting shut out in the fourth chukker, Audi found its offensive attack in the final chukker with two goals from Roldan and two goal from Kampsen, coming off the Ylvisaker Cup title with Dutta Corp.

Roldan led Audi with a game-high seven goals. Ganzi had four goals and Kampsen added three goals. Biddle scored five goals, all on penalty conversions and Juan Cruz Merlos added one goal. Cria Yatay started with a 3-0 advantage on handicap.

Eight teams are competing in bracket play with the final set for Feb. 17 at Grand Champions Polo Club at 4 p.m.

Scone, Grand Champions, Colorado and Flexjet are in Bracket A and Audi, Valiente, Cria Yatay and Patagones are in Bracket B.

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 exciting new league, that will offer major prize money starting in the semifinals, 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, including no yellow cards, to improve the flow and action of the game.

The WPL, with 14 tournament-quality fields to play on, also includes the Feb. 20-March 3 Founders Cup, March 6-24 Palm Beach Open and March 27-April 14 Triple Crown of Polo.

The WPL game finals will be held Sundays on Field Two at Grand Champions at 4 p.m. and semifinal games at Valiente Polo Farm, Fields One and Two. Several games will also be held throughout the week at various times. Admission is free along with food and refreshments at the featured games. 

The World Polo League is open to other teams that wish to compete in one or more of the tournaments. Entries are still open and everyone is welcome to play. 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, 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, March 1-31 $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament, March 1-16 John T. Oxley Memorial and March 3-24 $100,000 World Cup Tournament, a unique 0-40-goal, winner-take-all single-elimination tournament.

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