World Polo League Ends Successful First Season, Celebrates At St. Regis WPL Awards Farewell Dinner
|The World Polo League ended a successful first year with rave reviews from players, sponsors, fans and media.
By Sharon Robb
Co-founded by Grand Champions owners Melissa and Marc Ganzi and Valiente Polo Farm and J5Equestrian owner Bob Jornayvaz, the three-month high goal league is the only 26-goal polo in the world outside of Argentina, preserving the highest level of polo and its rich, hallowed tradition in the U.S.
“We just couldn’t have had a better season of polo,” Jornayvaz said. “We got the polo really, really right and that’s what this season was all about, getting the polo right and proving to the world we could do what we said we were going to do and that was put on world- class polo at world-class speeds.
“I think we changed the game in a very significant way,” Jornayvaz said. “The season has beaten every one of our expectations. We will definitely have more teams next year. We are in this for the long term. We couldn’t have had a better start. I am really proud of what we’ve accomplished.”
The World Polo League attracted a large international field of players from all corners of the world including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Nigeria, New Zealand, Uruguay and U.S.
“I am really happy with the sportsmanship in the league and very pleased with how far we have come as a league in one short year,” Marc Ganzi said. “I think we have shown people a lot, wide open polo at its best.”
“Everyone worked hard to make this league a success its first year,” said Melissa Ganzi. “We couldn’t have asked for a more successful year and can’t wait for next season.”
The four WPL tournaments during the inaugural season thrilled record crowds, worldwide livestream viewing audiences and sponsors at Grand Champions Polo Club, Valiente Polo Farm and Jan Pamela Field.
In the season-opening All Star Challenge Tournament, Valiente (Agustin Nero, 6, Santi Torres, 6, Pablo MacDonough, 10, Poroto Cambiaso, 3) earned a 10-9 overtime victory over Colorado (Rob Jornayvaz, 2, Juan Martin Zubia, 7, Rodrigo Andrade, 9, Jero del Carril, 7).
In the Founders Cup final, Grand Champions (Grant Ganzi, 3, Juancito Bollini, 4, Rodrigo Andrade, 9, Juan Martin Nero, 10), knocked off Valiente (Bob Jornayvaz, 2, Agustin Nero, 6, Santi Torres, 6, Adolfo Cambiaso, 10), 12-11 in overtime.
In the Palm Beach Open, SD Farms (Sayyu Dantata, 2, Santi Torres, 6, Guillermo Terrera, 8, Adolfo Cambiaso, 10) won its first 26-goal title in team history with an 11-6 rout of Audi (Marc Ganzi, 2, Nic Roldan, 8, Pablo MacDonough, 10, Kris Kampsen, 6). It was also the first 26-goal WPL tournament wins for Dantata and Cambiaso.
In the thrilling rain-soaked season finale, Colorado (Rob Jornayvaz, 2, Juan Martin Zubia, 7, Jero del Carril, 7, Adolfo Cambiaso, 10) held off Audi (Marc Ganzi, 2, Nic Roldan, 8, Pablo MacDonough, 10, Kris Kampsen, 6), 9-8, to win the prestigious Triple Crown of Polo.
“It’s been a fun season,” Nic Roldan said. “It went by really quick. Of course I will be back, this is it, this is our baby. We are here for the long run and hopefully this can go on for many years to come.”
The league’s top scorers were: Pelon Stirling, 74; Pablo MacDonough, 73; Juan Martin Nero, 71; Guillermo Terrera, 69; Diego Cavanagh, 63; Adolfo Cambiaso, 61; Juan Martin Zubia, 61; Jero del Carril, 57; Juan Martin Obregon, 56; and Nic Roldan, 53.
“I had a lot of fun playing in the World Polo League,” said Santi Torres, now off to Houston and
Denver for the summer. “I think it was good for the first year. I liked the rules. It was more open and not so boring like the regular rules. It doesn’t get as choppy and it’s more fun to watch.”
On Monday night, the WPL Awards and Farewell Dinner was held at St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort to honor the top players, horses, sponsors and media. The “Polo Is Beautiful” awards were designed by popular French pop artist Thierry Guetta, known as Mr. Brainwash.
Among St. Regis WPL award winners were:
American Polo Horse Association Horse of the Year 2019: Miami, Adolfo Cambiaso and Bob Jornayvaz.
“It was amazing, I think it was a great season,” Cambiaso said. “I am very happy with the World Polo League and I think it will get better and better every year. It did exceed my expectations but obviously you can get better. That’s the idea.”
American Polo Horse Association Triple Crown of Polo Horse of the 2019 Season: La Irenita Pizza, owned and played by Pablo MacDonough.
WPL 2019 Triple Crown of Polo String of the Year (played in more than one Triple Crown of Polo tournament location, (Aspen and Wellington): Alejandro Novillo Astrada.
WPL 2019 Horse Personality of the Year Viewers’ Choice: Jordi, Palomino stallion played by Rob Jornayvaz.
“The season went pretty quick, it definitely seemed like a lot of games,” Jornayvaz said. “I think it was a great season. We saw a lot of really fantastic games. I look back and there were a ton of games fantastic to play from the inside and fantastic to watch from the outside. That alone is amazing.”
WPL Corporate Partner of the Year: Josh Cohen, ESPN West Palm, Good Karma Brands.
WPL Legend of Polo: Pablo MacDonough, Audi.
“It’s unbelievable the first season is over, time flies,” MacDonough said. “The league has been great for all of us. I think the World Polo League is a huge success and I am very happy to be part of this since the very first day. I want to come back next year.”
WPL Spirit Award: Olexa Celine, WPL awards presenter and loyal fan.
WPL Play of the Day: Nacho Figueras, Black Watch,
stopped an opponent’s goal with a broken mallet.
WPL Viewer’s Choice Player Personality Award: Juan Bollini, the player who made viewers feel the emotion and passion for the sport both as a player and color commentator.
WPL Social Media Post of the Year Award: Tucan Pereyra Iraola, who has supported and promoted the World Polo League since Day One with both professionalism, passion and above all, humor.
The American Polo Horse Association was created in 2006 by the legendary Polo Hall of Famer Sunny Hale to recognize polo ponies in America and encourages events that showcase them and hard-working dedication of grooms.
The WPL was live streamed on ESPN Deportes and ChukkerTV/Polo Channel/Horseplay with Gus Whitelaw calling the action. For more information and to watch the games go to www.worldpolo.org for a complete library of WPL first-season games.
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.