IPC 10th Anniversary Season Under Way; Audi, Piaget Preparing For Jan. 10th Joe Barry Memorial Cup Opener
Fourteen teams, including Audi and Piaget, will compete in the Jan. 10-27 Joe Barry Memorial Cup at International Polo Club Palm Beach.
The 20-goal season got underway Thursday with the semifinals of the Herbie Pennell Cup Tournament with defending champion Coca-Cola and Villa del Lago advancing to Sunday’s championship final at 3 p.m.
Actress Bo Derek (of “10” movie fame) will throw out the first ball for the game and will be joined by former University of Miami football All-American Jeremy Shockey for the trophy presentation. La Herradura and Lechuza Caracas will play the consolation game at 1 p.m.
IPC, polo’s winter capital of the world, is celebrating its tenth anniversary with four 20-goal tournaments and three 26-goal tournaments including the 109th annual Maserati U.S. Open.
The other two 20-goal tournaments are the Jan. 29-Feb. 24 Ylvisaker Cup, won last year by Melissa Ganzi’s underdog Piaget team in an upset over husband Marc’s Audi team; and Feb. 20-March 3 Iglehart Cup.
The three 26-goal tournaments, the C.V. Whitney (Feb. 20-March 3), USPA Piaget Gold Cup (March 5-24) and prestigious 109th U.S. Open
(March 26-April 21) which has a new title sponsor with Maserati signing on.
“Aside from Argentina, the 26-goal tournaments we play here are the highest in the world that are being played,” said Jimmy Newman, IPC’s director of polo operations at Friday’s season kick-off press conference at the IPC’s Mallet Club.
“The 20-goal has become the heart of all of this,” Newman said. “This is where all the great players come and play for the winter. You talk about polo, IPC is the big time. The teams bring such excitement to the season.”
Maserati heads an impressive list of sponsors for the 2013 season that includes Piaget, Veuve Clicquot, Belvedere Vodka, Four Seasons Resort, Bethesda Healthcare, Iberia Bank and Metier.
“Piaget has been very committed to polo for a number of years,” said John Wash, president of club operations. “Piaget and Lauren Duffy we thank them for the years of sponsorship here at IPC. Piaget is the sponsor of the Piaget Gold Cup. We couldn’t do it without our sponsors like Piaget.”
Nestled in the heart of South Florida’s hallowed horse country, IPC is a world-class facility designed to showcase the sport’s top players and horses with an estimated economic impact of $180-200 million for the community during the four-month season, according to Wash.
Audi and Piaget are among top teams expected to challenge for titles throughout the season. Audi opens its 2013 season on Thursday, Jan. 10th against Coca-Cola at 1 p.m. Piaget’s first game is Sunday, Jan. 13
Audi, 2009 U.S. Open champion, will compete in both the 20- and 26-goal tournaments for the second consecutive year.
Audi, led by player-patron Marc Ganzi of Wellington, features 8-goalers Nico Pieres and Nic Roldan, a Cardinal Newman alum, and Carlitos Gracida, son of Hall of Famer and former 10-goaler Carlos Gracida. The foursome will play the 20-goal season.
Audi’s 26-goal team is 10-goaler Gonzalito Pieres, his younger brother Nico Pieres and American 7-goaler Jeff Hall. The Pieres brothers were members of the 2012 Argentine Open Ellerstina champion team that knocked off six-time defending champion La Dolfina led by 10-goaler Adolfo Cambiaso.
Ganzi is ranked among the top amateur polo players in the world according to the World Polo Tour rankings.
Audi has the momentum coming into the 2013 season after sweeping the fall 20-goal fall season at Grand Champions Polo Club winning both the USPA National 20-Goal and USPA North America Cup tournaments.
Piaget, led by player-patron Melissa Ganzi, will be joined by 10-goaler Miguel Astrada, 5-goaler Juan Bollini and 4-goaler Joaquin Panelo for the 20-goal schedule.
After a three-year hiatus, Piaget competed in the 20-goal tournaments last year winning the Ylvisaker Cup.
Piaget will also compete in the 26-goal tournaments with 10-goalers Miguel Astrada and Sapo Caset, and 6-goaler Nacho Badiola and 5-goaler Juan Bollini, sharing the fourth position.
The IPC season has attracted all eight of the world’s top-ranked players rated at 10 goals in the U.S. including Adolfo Cambiaso, Miguel Astrada, Sapo Caset, Pelon Stirling, Juan Martin Nero, Pablo McDonough, Facundo Pieres and Gonzalito Pieres. The Pieres brothers joined other brother Nico and brother-in-law and MVP Mariano Aguerre for their first Argentine Open victory, a 12-10 upset of six-time defending champion La Dolfina.
Among other season highlights are the Feb. 15 Polo Hall of Fame Inductions at the National Museum of Polo in Lake Worth and Outback 40-Goal Challenge on Saturday, Feb. 16 at 3 p.m. to benefit the Polo Players Support Group, Inc.
Jan. 6, Herbie Pennell Cup final
Jan. 8-27, Joe Barry Memorial Cup
Jan. 29-Feb. 24, Ylvisaker Cup
Feb. 20-March 3, Iglehart Cup
Feb. 20-March 3, CV Whitney Cup
March 5-March 24, USPA Piaget Gold Cup
March 26-April 21, 109th Maserati U.S. Open Polo Championship
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