ESPN West Palm Beach has signed with the inaugural 26-goal World Polo League

ESPN West Palm Beach Signs With World Polo League, Will Help Kick Off All-Star Challenge Draw Tuesday At Valiente Polo Farm

ESPN West Palm Beach has signed with the inaugural 26-goal World Polo League which kicks off Tuesday night with the All-Star Challenge Tournament Draw at Valiente Polo Farm.

By Sharon Robb

The biggest highlight of the high goal polo season has been the much anticipated debut of the nation’s only 26-goal league featuring some of the world’s top players and team sponsors at Grand Champions and Valiente Polo Farm. 

Adolfo Cambiaso
Photo by Gabrielle Stodd

The WPL will fill the void created when the U.S. Polo Association, the sport’s governing body, announced it was lowering high goal polo to 18-22 goals at International Polo Club and would not have 26-goal polo and instead feature the Gauntlet Polo Series (C.V. Whitney Cup, USPA Gold Cup and U.S. Open). 

Nacho Figueras

The WPL will hold its draft and draw cocktail party on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Valiente in front of an anticipated packed house of sponsors, players, umpires and fans. The event will be live streamed by ChukkerTV, leaders in polo broadcasting.

The first-of-its-kind draw party will feature team owners drawing out of a hat for all-star players. The unique format will allow team owners a chance to play with a 10-goal player that they otherwise would not have been able to play with. The final will be on Feb. 17 at 4 p.m. at Grand Champions.

ESPN West Palm Beach (106.3FM) and ESPN Deportes (760AM) will target the West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami markets with various broadcasts, commercials and exposure on radio, and social media platforms to promote the exciting new World Polo League.

Josh Cohen

Well-known announcer and local celebrity Josh Cohen of ESPN West Palm Beach, The Home Team and ESPN West Palm Beach Tonight, will join WCT Commissioner Dale Smicklas and Jan-Eric Franck, the voice of polo, during Tuesday’s event.

With nearly two decades of sustained success in sports and entertainment broadcasting, Cohen is among the most influential, respected and popular on-air personalities and live event hosts in South Florida.

Julian Zaldivar

Julian Zaldivar has been a part of ESPN West Palm Beach team and ESPN Deportes760AMmanager since its inception. He is the host of Comunidad ESPN every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning that features all-sports talk and interviews with the Latino community leaders from the local Hispanic market and also includes reports from local sports leagues and upcoming events heard throughout the local community.

Players and nine team sponsors will be announced during Tuesday’s event. Heading the list are four of the world’s top players: 10-goalers Adolfo Cambiaso, Pablo MacDonough, Juan Martin Nero and Pelon Sterling, teammates on the reigning Argentine Open champion La Dolfina Sancor Seguros. The unique newly-designed tournament trophy will also be unveiled. 

Tomas Garcia del Rio

Team sponsors are Alegria, Audi, Casablanca, Colorado, Cria Yatay, Flexjet, Patagones, Scone and Valiente. Team rosters are:

Alegria, 25 goals: Freddie Mannix, 8, Jesse Bray, 6, Juan Martin Obregon, 5, Mariano Obregon, 6.

Audi, 26: Marc Ganzi, 2, Nic Roldan, 8, Pablo MacDonough, 10, Kris Kampsen, 6.

Casablanca, 25: Grant Ganzi, 2, Juancito Bollini, 4, Rodrigo Andrade, 9, Juan Martin Nero, 10.

Colorado, 24: Rob Jornayvaz, 2, Juan Martin Zubia, 7, Diego Cavanagh, 8, Jero del Carril, 7.

Cria Yatay, 26: Nacho Figueras, 6, Juan Cruz Merlos, 6, Pite Merlos, 8, Tommy Biddle, 6.

Flexjet, 22: Melissa Ganzi, A, Pablo Spinacci, 6, Alfredo Bigatti, 8, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 8.

Patagones, 23: Gonzalo Avendano, 2, Santi Wulff, 5, Tomas Garcia del Rio, 8, Santiago Toccalino, 8.

Scone, 26: David Paradise, 0, Guillermo Terrara, 8, Alejandro Taranco, 8, Pelon Stirling, 10.

Valiente, 24: Santi Torres, 6, Agustin Nero, 6, Adolfo Cambiaso, 10, Bob Jornayvaz, 2.

Rodrigo Andrade

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 league in not only Wellington, but the United States, and second only to Argentina.

The exciting new league, that will offer major prize money starting in the semifinals, will not only fill a void but preserve the highest level of polo and its rich, hallowed tradition in the U.S. The WPL has its own set of simple fan-friendly rules to improve the flow of the game and is not affiliated with the USPA.

Freddie Mannix
File Photos

The WPL, with 14 tournament-quality fields to play on, opens with the Feb. 6-17 All-Star Challenge Draw Tournament. The remaining WPL tournaments are 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. 

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.

During the winter polo season, Grand Champions, the nation’s largest and innovative USPA-sanctioned polo club, is hosting 22 tournaments: 6, 8, 12, 20, and 0 to 40 goals, WCT Finals and women’s weekly league play and 26-goal World Polo League tournaments at both Grand Champions and Valiente Polo Farm.

Grand Champions tournaments attract a large international field of players from all corners of the world  including India, Mexico, New Zealand, Chile, Costa Rica, Argentina, Canada, Ecuador, Brazil, Switzerland, France, Germany, Uruguay, Azerbaijan, South Africa, Nigeria, Venezuela and England.

In addition to the WPL, season highlights for 2019 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.