Alegria, WPL Advance Into US Trust Cup Final Saturday; Triple Crown Of Polo Semifinals Thursday At Valiente
|After two exciting second-half rallies by Alegria and WPL, the stage is set for the final of the US Trust Cup Saturday at Valiente Polo Farm.
By Sharon Robb
Alegria (Freddie Mannix, 8, Jesse Bray, 6, Santi Wulff, 5, Juan Martin Obregon, 5), 17-10 winners over Mandarina (Gussie Busch, 1, Alfredo Bigatti, 8, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 8, Pablo Spinacci, 6) will meet WPL (Poroto Cambiaso, 3/Kian Hall, 3, Santi Torres, 6, Guillermo Terrera, 8, Diego Cavanagh, 9), 16-13 winners over Black Watch (Juan Cruz Merlos, 5, Nacho Figueras, 6, Pite Merlos, 8, Juan Bollini, 5), Saturday at 4 p.m. for the World Polo League Triple Crown of Polo subsidiary title and $60,000 in prize money.
In Thursday Triple Crown of Polo semifinal action, Audi (Marc Ganzi, 2, Nic Roldan, 8, Pablo MacDonough, 10, Kris Kampsen, 6) will play Valiente (Bob Jornayvaz, 2, Santi Torres, 6, Alejandro Taranco, 8, Pelon Stirling, 10) at 11 a.m. at Valiente Field 2. Audi is 3-0 and Valiente is 2-1.
In the other semifinal, Colorado (Rob Jornayvaz, 2, Juan Martin Zubia, 7, Jero del Carril, 7, Adolfo Cambiaso, 10) plays Grand Champions (Grant Ganzi, 3, Juancito Bollini, 4, Rodrigo Andrade, 9, Juan Martin Nero, 10) at 4 p.m. at Valiente Field 3.
The winners will meet Sunday in the championship final at 4 p.m. at Grand Champions Polo Club. Colorado is 3-0 and Grand Champions is 2-1.
Alegria will be looking for its second 26-goal tournament win. On March 24, Alegria won the Palm Beach Open subsidiary Molina Cup with an 11-10 victory over Valiente in the final minute.
“Here we are, another final,” Mannix said. “It should be good. It should be a lot of fun on Saturday.”
Added Bray, “This team deserves to be in another final but now we got to win it. Being there isn’t enough.”
Playing some of its best polo of the World Polo League on Wednesday at Grand Champions Polo Club, Alegria broke open a close game in the second half playing with substitute Santi Wulff.
“It’s always good to win,” Obregon said. “We started off figuring it out. It’s always hard to get into rhythm right off the bat with a new player. Luckily we made a few changes at halftime and played better and better. The fifth and sixth chukkers were our best chukkers for sure and we were able to pull through. It’s really nice we are in another final.”
Playing with Wulff, subbing for Gringo Colombres sidelined with an elbow injury, Alegria trailed the first four chukkers, 4-2, 6-5, 8-6 and 10-9.
“We had a good coach in Gringo,” Mannix said. “He couldn’t play so he helped us on the side.”
Alegria opened the fifth chukker on Obregon’s penalty-three conversion to tie the game at 10-10 and then went on to score seven unanswered points in the fifth and sixth chukkers.
“Santi Wulff was the MVP today,” Mannix said. “He played well. It was fun to play with a good player that can play the same idea of the team.
“We have good players and they have experience, they know what to do and know not to disrupt the energy of the team and just try to fit in and that’s what Santi did.
Obregon scored a game-high six goals. Bray had five goals, Wulff scored four goals and Mannix added two goals.
“This is an amazing team, it was so much fun,” Wulff said. “At the beginning we had some trouble and then I switched with Juan Martin and I went back. By the last half we played really good. I’m happy and thank you to Gringo and the team.”
For Bray, it was an easy adjustment playing with Wulff, who he has played with and against him the past two seasons in Santa Barbara.
“For me it wasn’t that difficult playing with him,” Bray said. “Once we switched the positions around we started functioning a little better and we ended up making a bigger difference toward the end of the game.”
Bigatti and Novillo Astrada each had three goals for Mandarina. Busch, subbing for starter Melissa Ganzi, and Spinacci each had one. Mandarina picked up two goals on handicap.
Despite the season ending on Sunday, Mannix praised the condition of the tournament fields.
“The field is good,” Mannix said. “We are here at the end of the season and the fields are still good. That shows the strength of the organization of Grand Champions and Valiente. We are having a lot of fun out there.”
WPL, playing without starter Agustin Nero and Poroto Cambiaso in the final four chukkers, rallied in the second half after trailing, 9-5, at halftime.
With 10 seconds left in the fourth chukker, Cavanagh scored to break a 10-10 tie. WPL never relinquished the lead after that. Black Watch could get no closer than two goals.
“We played really well in the second half,” Cavanagh said. “We played well in the first chukker scoring three goals but I felt like we kind of relaxed in our heads and they played really well in the second and third.”
WPL opened the fourth chukker strong, outscoring Black Watch, 6-1, for an 11-10 lead.
“We had a really strong fourth chukker,” Cavanagh said. “Now we have to play Alegria, a really strong team. We have to play better if we want to win.”
Cavanagh scored a game-high eight goals. Terrera had five goals, Hall had two goals and Torres added one.
Juan Cruz Merlos led Black Watch with five goals. Pite Merlos and Figueras each had two goals and Bollini added one.
The WPL is being live streamed on ESPN Deportes and ChukkerTV/Polo Channel/Horseplay with Gus Whitelaw calling the action. For more information go to www.worldpolo.org.
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 polo in the world outside of Argentina. The WPL is preserving the highest level of polo and its rich, hallowed tradition in the U.S.
The WPL has its own set of simpler fan-friendly rules to improve the flow and action of the game.
The WPL, with 11 tournament-quality fields to play on, features the All-Star Challenge Draw Tournament, Founders Cup, Palm Beach Open and Triple Crown of Polo. The WPL is open to teams that wish to compete in one or more of the tournaments. Games are offered on the flat (Open) and on Handicap.
The World Polo League has 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.
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.
2019 WORLD POLO LEAGUE SCHEDULE
March 27-April 14, Triple Crown of Polo
Thursday, April 11
11 a.m. Valiente vs. Audi, Triple Crown of Polo Semifinal, Valiente Field 2
4 p.m. GCPC vs. Colorado, Triple Crown of Polo Semifinal, Valiente Field 3
Saturday, April 13
Sunday, April 14
WPL Hotline: 833-POLO-411
Games at Grand Champions Polo Club, Valiente Polo Farm and other local fields, call our hotline to receive daily game and field information.