WELLINGTON, Fla., February 27, 2022–First-year team Casimiro led from start to finish to capture the Metropolitan 6-Goal Cup Saturday at Grand Champions Polo Club.
Casimiro (Steve Cox, 0, Miki Novillo Astrada, 0, Santos Bollini, 2, Santi Llavallol, 3) defeated The Polo School (Diego Morales, 1, Hayley Schaufeld, -1, Bauti Peluso, 2, Juan Bollini, 4), 8.5-5.
Santos Bollini, 22, scored a team-high four goals and was named Most Valuable Player.
„It was amazing to win,“ said Bollini, who is also playing in the 26-goal World Polo League. „Our first game was against them and we didn‘t perform that well but then we overcame adversity after losing. We won the next two games, played really well and turned things around and got to the final. It was a great feeling.
Bauti Peluso and Santos Bollini.
„The way we played today was totally different from the first time we played them. We got to know each other and our styles of play the more games we played. We had a plan and it worked out well.“
Rayo Careta, played by Miki Novillo Astrada, was Best Playing Pony.
It was Casimiro‘s first tournament title.
„They were really clicking,“ Cox said. „I thought it was very fast for six goals which was very exciting. It was fun to be out there. It was extremely great footing. It was one of the best fields I‘ve ever played on. I really love playing at Grand Champions. I love the people and the pros. It‘s a wonderful atmosphere.“
After a six-year layoff, Cox decided to buy horses and resumed playing polo two years ago. The Tulsa, Okla.-based Cox first played „local polo not competitive“ when he was younger. „I wanted to come and play with some of the best,“ he said.
„I love it 130 percent,“ Cox said. „I‘m having to get used to playing faster. I have a pretty steep learning curve. That was pretty fast six goal today. I am stepping up my horses and buying more horses and trying to get into the plays more.“
When he was seven, Cox cut his eye with a pocket knife and couldn‘t see out of it too well. While working with the grooms at White Birch they asked about his eye and Cox told him what happened to which they replied Casimiro which loosely translates, „I can kind of see,“ Cox said. „It stayed with me all these years so when Cale Newman called and asked me what did I want to name my team I said what about Casimiro.“
Cox, a father of five, plans to play the entire six-goal season. His son, Hendrix, 10, and daughter, Capri, 8, love and play polo and will join their dad in Wellington along with the rest of the family in March.
Casimiro opened the game with a .5 lead on handicap. Bollini scored his first two goals in the opening chukker and Peluso scored his team‘s first goal to give Casimiro a 2.5-1 lead.
Juan Bollini and Santos Bollini.
Bollini and Peluso each scored again in the second chukker with Casimiro still leading, 3.5-2, going into halftime.
Casimiro outscored The Polo School, 5-3, in the second half to clinch the win. Astrada scored two goals in the fourth, with the help of Bollini taking out defenders, and final chukker to put the game away.
„We didn‘t need the .5 today,“ said Cox, who got help from Miguel Novillo Astrada, Juan Bollini and Grant Ganzi putting his team together.
In addition to Bollini‘s four goals, Novillo Astrada had two goals and Cox and Llavallol each had one goal.
Peluso scored a team high four goals for The Polo School. Schaufeld added one goal.
Steve Cox and Hayley Schaufeld.
It was the first of two Saturday games for Santi Llavallol, who scored a team-high five goals to lead Novo Polo to a 14-10 victory over Mayer Ranch in the Sieber 12-Goal Memorial.
Grand Champions, the nation‘s largest and busiest 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.
Grand Champions is host to the World Polo League, now in its fourth year. The only 26-goal polo played outside of Argentina has attracted a large international field from around the world.
The world-class league will run through April 16. In addition to the All-Star Challenge which concluded on Saturday with Audi winning, the remaining tournaments are the Founders Cup which gets under way this week; 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.
Grand Champions is also hosting the Sunset Chukkers and Cocktails, presented by Seminole Casino Coconut Creek held Tuesday late afternoon on Field One for players and guests.
MVP Santos Bollini and Cuki Bollini.
The high goal club tournaments feature the Sterling Cup, $100,000 World Cup and Santa Rita Abierto.
The 16-goal league play includes the Grand Champions Cup, Power Horse Invitational and Pedro Morrison Memorial.
The 12-goal league continues with the current Sieber Memorial Trophy, the $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 Top Pony 8-Goal and Limited Edition 8-Goal.
The 6-goal schedule continues with the Halo Polo Trophy and Madelon Bourdieu Memorial.
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.
Best Playing Pony Rayo Careta played by Miki Novillo Astrada.
The Polo School 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.
By Sharon Robb
Photos by Candace Ferreira