Catamount Plays NetJets Saturday In World Polo League Season-Opener
WELLINGTON, Fla., February 11, 2022—The much-anticipated World Polo League begins its fourth season Saturday when Catamount plays NetJets at Jan Pamela in the opening game of the All-Star Challenge at 3 p.m.
By Sharon Robb
Catamount returns to high goal polo in its WPL debut with patron Scott Devon.
“It’s exciting to play back here,” Devon said during the draw. “I had an extended seven seasons off. I’m looking forward to the season. Everything looks great.”
In the late 1990s and early 2000, Catamount was one of the sport’s top teams featuring a pair of 10-goalers, Mike Azzaro and Carlos Gracida. In 2004, Catamount made it to the semifinals of the U.S. Open, narrowly missing the final with an overtime loss to White Birch. White Birch (2005), Audi (2009) and Alegria (2014) have all won U.S. Open titles and have hallowed traditions in 26-goal polo.
Catamount is led by 10-goaler Polito Pieres, the highest rated American polo player, born in Connecticut and raised in Argentina. He is coming off a successful season in Argentina where he was a member of Argentine Open champion La Natividad along with brothers Barto and Jeta Castagnola, also competing in the WPL.
Joining Devon and Pieres in the Catamount lineup will be Toro Ruiz and Nacho Novillo Astrada.
NetJets has four 6-goalers on its team led by the sport’s ambassador Nacho Figueras. He will be joined by Tomacho Pieres, Pablo Spinacci and Sugar Erskine.
Eight teams will compete in the single-elimination All-Star Challenge. The seeding to determine the schedule was held at a 30-minute virtual draw Monday night. Other first round games are set for Friday, Feb. 18, and Sunday, Feb. 20 with the semifinal round on Wednesday, Feb. 23 and championship final on Saturday, Feb. 26.
Three other 10-goal players will compete in the WPL including Pablo MacDonough and Juan Martin Nero for Richard Mille and Gonzalito Pieres for Seminole Coconut Creek Casino. The Castagnola brothers are ranked 10 goals in Argentina.
Team sponsors, rosters and bracket draw seeds are:
1. CATAMOUNT: Scott Devon, 1, Polito Pieres, 10, Toro Ruiz, 7, Nacho Novillo Astrada, 8.
2. RICHARD MILLE: Santos Bollini, 2, Grant Ganzi, 3, Pablo MacDonough, 10, Juan Martin Nero 10.
3. SEMINOLE CASINO COCONUT CREEK: Melissa Ganzi, 0, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 8, Gonzalito Pieres, 10, Juan Martin Zubia, 8.
4. WHITE BIRCH: Chris Brant, 0, Mariano Aguerre, 7, Santi Toccalino, 8, Lerin Zubiaurre, 7.
5. ALEGRIA: Juancito Bollini, 4, Clemente Zavaleta, 7, Tincho Merlos, 8, Fred Mannix, 7.
6. BROOKSHIRE POLO TEAM: Scott Wood, 0, Rufino Bensadon, 8, Nic Roldan, 8, Pancho Bensadon, 7.
7. AUDI: Marc Ganzi, 2, Camilo Castagnola, 9, Barto Castagnola, 9, Paco de Narvaez, 6.
8. NETJETS: Nacho Figueras, 6, Tomacho Pieres, 6, Pablo Spinacci, 6, Sugar Erskine, 6.
Added Alegria’s Freddie Mannix, “It’s going to be amazing, looking forward to a great season.”
“We are looking forward to playing 26-goal competition,” White Birch’s Mariano Aguerre said. “It’s fun to watch Chris follow in his dad’s (Peter) steps. It’s going to be a great season. We are looking forward to it.”
The World Polo League, the only 26-goal polo played outside of Argentina, was co-founded by Marc and Melissa Ganzi and has attracted a large international field from around the world.
The world-class league will run through April 16. The World Polo League is about preserving the highest level of polo and its rich tradition in the U.S.
2021 All-Star Challenge winners Richard Mille’s Paco de Narvaez, Marc Ganzi,
Jeta Castagnola, and Pablo MacDonough
The WPL has its own set of simpler fan-friendly rules to improve the flow of the game and world-class umpires.
In addition to the All-Star Challenge, the remaining WPL events are the inaugural Tommy Hitchcock Legacy Memorial, Feb. 27; Founders Cup, Feb. 23-March 13; Palm Beach Open, March 9-27; Triple Crown of Polo, March 23-April 16 and Beach Polo World Cup Miami Beach, April 29-May 1.
During the 2021 WPL season, Richard Mille was in a league record four championship finals, winning three of them. The WPL champions were:
2021 Founders Cup Winners Richard Mille’s Marc Ganzi, Jeta Castagnola,
Pablo MacDonough, and Paco de Narvaez
All-Star Challenge: Richard Mille (Marc Ganzi, Jeta Castagnola, Pablo MacDonough, Paco de Narvaez) defeated Hawaii Polo Life (Chris Dawson, Poroto Cambiaso, Jejo Taranco, Adolfo Cambiaso), 12-8. MacDonough was MVP.
Founders Cup: Richard Mille (Marc Ganzi, Jeta Castagnola, Pablo MacDonough, Paco de Narvaez) defeated Hawaii Polo Life (Santi Torres, Gringo Colombres, Jejo Taranco, Chris Dawson), 12-6. MacDonough was MVP.
Palm Beach Open: Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Barto Castagnola, Juan Martin Nero) defeated Richard Mille (Marc Ganzi, Jeta Castagnola, Pablo MacDonough, Paco de Narvaez), 12-9. Barto Castagnola was MVP.
2021 Palm Beach Open Winners Casablanca’s Juan Martin Nero,
Barto Castagnola, Juancito Bollini, and Grant Ganzi
Triple Crown of Polo: Richard Mille (Marc Ganzi, Jeta Castagnola, Pablo MacDonough, Paco de Narvaez) defeated previously undefeated Tamera (Ale Poma, Santi Torres, Diego Cavanagh, Jejo Taranco), 11-10. MacDonough was MVP.
McDonough is a Brand Ambassador for Richard Mille, a luxury watch and longtime sponsor at Grand Champions and Aspen Valley Polo Clubs.
Grand Champions has also added Sunset Chukkers and Cocktails, presented by Seminole Casino Coconut Creek held Tuesday late afternoon on Field One for players and guests.
Grand Champions, the nation’s largest polo club, celebrating its 15th anniversary, is coming off its most successful fall season. Club officials hope to build off that success when it hosts 23 tournaments from January through April.
2021 Triple Crown of Polo Winners, Richard Mille’s Paco de Narvaez,
Marc Ganzi, Pablo MacDonough, and Jeta Castagnola
The high goal club tournaments feature the Sterling Cup, $100,000 World Cup and Santa Rita Abierto.
The 16-goal league play includes the Feb. 14-Mar. 5 Grand Champions Cup, Mar. 8-26 Power Horse Invitational and Mar. 29-Apr. 16 Pedro Morrison Memorial.
The 12-goal league is the Limited Edition 12-Goal Series currently underway, Feb. 15-Mar. 5 Sieber Memorial Trophy, Feb. 16-27 $50,000 National 12-Goal and Mar. 8-26 Top Pony 12-Goal.
After January’s successful Aspen Valley Cup, the 8-goal tournament schedule continues with the Feb. 15-Mar. 5 Top Pony 8-Goal and Mar. 8-26 Limited Edition 8-Goal.
The 6-goal schedule features the Metropolitan Cup, also underway; Feb. 15-Mar. 5 Halo Polo Trophy and Mar. 8-26 Madelon Bourdieu Memorial.
There is also the Polo School Grand Champions Women’s League, co-founded by Melissa Ganzi and Alina Carta, for all ages and playing ability held Wednesdays at 10 a.m. at Santa Rita Polo Farm.
Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique private 100-acre polo facility in Wellington with 120 stalls in several self-contained barns, exercise track, five climate-controlled tack rooms, vet room, staff quarters, guest house and polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation and stick-and-ball fields.
During fall, winter and spring seasons, Grand Champions Polo Club, the nation’s largest club with 13 well-manicured, world-class fields at GCPC and Santa Rita Polo Farm, hosts polo tournaments ranging from six to 26-goal including the 26-goal World Polo League in addition to special events.
The Polo School, now located at the former Pony Express facility owned by Melissa and Marc Ganzi, operates in Wellington January through May and September through November. For more information on the Fall Leagues or Polo School contact Director of Operations Juan Bollini at 561-346-1099 or General Manager Cale Newman at 561-876-2930.
Grand Champions Polo Club caters to men, women and youth polo players at all levels. Its’ expert staff can customize a complete playing experience including horses, pros and certified umpires in addition to lessons and practice sessions as part of its’ Polo On Demand program, the only polo club in the U.S. to offer the unique program.