Cedar Crest Stables Wins GPL International Tournament Founderâ€™s Cup
Cedar Crest Stables, led by Franceâ€™s legendary polo player Caroline Anier, defeated Wellington Coalition, 6-5, Saturday to win the fourth annual Gay Polo League International Tournament Founderâ€™s Cup at Grand Champions Polo Club.
After losing to Gordon W. Ross Team Re/Max, 5-3, in the tournament semifinal on Friday, Cedar Crest Stables found its chemistry and rhythm in the consolation final behind the veteran Anier, Christine Vermes, Phil Tremo and pro Joey Casey.
Wellington Coalition, which lost to Polo Gear/Palm Beach Rox, 5-4, also found its chemistry with Mark Bennett, Jack Hoffman, Talbot Logan and pro Nacho Badiola of Argentina.
Tournament host and Piaget team captain Melissa Potamkin Ganzi of Grand Champions presented the trophy. It was the second consecutive year Cedar Crest Stables won the Founderâ€™s Trophy.
Anier, making her GPL tournament debut, and Vermes each scored three goals for Cedar Crest Stables. In Fridayâ€™s game, Anier scored all three of her teamâ€™s goals.
Vermesâ€™ horse Baby, provided by Grand Champions, was named Best Playing Pony.
For Wellington Coalition, Badiola led scoring with three goals,including two in the fourth and final chukker. Logan, the 2012 GPL MVP, scored two goals in the first half.
With Cedar Crest Stables leading 5-4 in the final two minutes, Anier stole the ball from Badiola, worked it downfield with her quick and skillful mallet play and passed off to Vermes, who scored with
“The first day it just took time for us to come together,” Anier said. “We didnâ€™t know each other or the pro. And, we never played the horses, too, so it took a little time to adapt.”
Anier took time out of her busy schedule to play in her first GPL tournament. She is in the midst of her 6- and 8-goal seasons in France. She is also managing two 15-goal teams for American padrons in France and managing a barn for a womanâ€™s 15-goal team.
“That is why I am very busy, but I went out of my way to be here for three days because it was so important to play and I wanted to play,” Anier said. “I am very proud and I want to support the GPL. I hope I can come back.”
Anier has been playing polo for more than three decades. She is among the best in the world and considered one of the sportâ€™s pioneers.
“The men didnâ€™t accept women players much back then,” Anier said. “Sunny Haleâ€™s mom went through it and there were already a lot of women playing in America. In France I was the only woman but I really never had any problems.
“I was never refused in a tournament. I had some macho guys that hate when I steal the ball away from them. But that still happens today. They were growling every time I took the ball away from them. All of my life it has been like that.”
For Vermes it was a dream come true playing on the same team with Anier, her coach, who gave her polo lessons last winter.
“Today was magic, just magic,” said Vermes. “We really came together and worked as a team with the players and the horses. It was fantastic.”
Vermes has been playing polo for five years.
“It is so special to be able to learn from the best,” Vermes said. “What a privilege.
“It feels amazing to win today,” Vermes continued. “Had we not won it still would have been a great day.”
In the championship Senatorâ€™s Cup, Gordon W. Ross Team Re/Max won the rain-abbreviated game over Polo Gear/Palm Beach Rox, 2-1. Gordon Ross was named Most Valuable Player and Dan Haynia of Polo Gear/Palm Beach Rox was named Most Improved Player.
The tournament was hosted by Grand Champions Polo Club and Marc and Melissa Ganzi. Melissa Ganzi, newly-elected president of the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame, selected the well-matched teams and provided most of the ponies for the tournament, in addition to tack and grooms.
The Gay Polo League, created in 2006, is an international organization and only known gay polo league in the world. Currently, the GPLâ€™s established four U.S. chapters are in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Wellington.
GPL members include players from several foreign countries such as France, England, Argentina, South Africa, Canada and Australia.