This Post is available in:

Dieser Post ist verfügbar in:

Grand Champions Polo Club Wins Top Pony Title In Overtime Thriller; Miki Novillo Astrada Sweeps MVP, BPP Honors

Top Pony 8-Goal champion Grand Champions players Fran Spinacci, Antonio Aguerre, Miki Novillo Astrada and Max Charlton. ©Candace Ferreira

WELLINGTON, March 7, 2023—Grand Champions Polo Club needed an overtime chukker to capture the Top Pony 8-Goal Tournament Monday at Santa Rita Polo Farm.

Grand Champions Polo Club (Fran Spinacci, 0, Miki Novillo Astrada, 1, Antonio Aguerre, 1, Max Charlton, 6) defeated Orea Polo (Petra Sobotova, -1, Justo Mourino, 3, Justin Daniels, 2, Mati Busquet, 4), for a thrilling 10-9 overtime victory.

Miki Novillo Astrada, 16, the son of Argentine great and former 10-goaler Miguel Novillo Astrada, was named Most Valuable Player.

Novillo Astrada scored back-to-back goals to tie the game, 9-9, at 2:17 sending the game into overtime and then scored the game-winner at the 7:08 mark in overtime.

Novillo Astrada‘s horse Arroba Magri earned Best Playing Pony honors.

The fourth generation player has been playing polo since he was six and has played with Spinacci and Aguerre several times. It was the first time he played with Max Charlton of Great Britain. It was Novillo Astrada‘s first tournament win of the season.

In overtime, Novillo Astrada came up with the throw-in. „I got the ball, turned it and just ran with it to the goal,“ he said. „My horse ran fast so I passed them and I scored.

„I am very happy to win because it was a difficult match,“ Novillo Astrada said.

Miguel Novillo Astrada was in the players‘ tent watching his son. „I am very happy my father helps me, he gives me advice,“ Novillo Astrada said. „He came to the tent in the last chukker. He told me to be patient and to win the throw-in.“

The lead changed hands seven times during the game. Orea Polo started off strong with a 3-0 lead in the opening chukker. Grand Champions Polo Club bounced back with its own 3-0 chukker to tie the game after two chukkers.

In a defensive third chukker, Novillo Astrada scored the only goal to give Grand Champions a 4-3 halftime lead.

Busquet opened the fourth chukker with a penalty conversion to tie the game, 4-4. Spinacci scored back-to-back goals to give Grand Champions its biggest lead of the game, 6-4.

Grand Champions led by as many as three goals (8-5) before Orea Polo started clawing its way back. Busquet got hot in the sixth chukker scoring back-to back goals to take the lead, 9-8, with 3:32 left in regulation. After that it was all Grand Champions and Novillo Astrada with his back-to-back goals.

Spinacci led Grand Champions Polo Club with a team-high five goals, including four penalty conversions. Astrada had three goals. Aguerre and Charlton each had one. Busquet led Orea Polo with a game-high eight goals and Daniels added one.

Orea Polo outshot Grand Champions, 18-16. Grand Champions led in knock-ins, 9-6, and fouls, 12-9. Orea Polo led in throw-ins, 11-10. In the first half, Orea Polo outshot Grand Champions, 7-6. Grand Champions led in knock-ins, 4-2, throw-ins, 6-3, and fouls, 6-3.

In last year‘s final, Santa Rita (Fran Spinacci, -1, Antonio Aguerre, 0, Mia Cambiaso, 2, Pablo Spinacci, 6) led from start to finish for a 10-7 win over Rafool Polo (Ray Rafool, -1, Milo Dorignac, 2, Henry Porter, 4, Ciro Desenzani, 2/Manuel Prado, 2). Pablo Spinacci was MVP.

Grand Champions, the nation‘s largest  polo club celebrating its 16th anniversary, and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique private 102-acre polo facility in Wellington with 212 stalls in nine self-contained barns, two tracks, five climate-controlled tack rooms, vet room, staff quarters, guest house and four polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation and short work arena. The club has 13 well-manicured fields including nine world-class fields at GCPC and four at Santa Rita.

During the winter polo season, Grand Champions, the nation‘s largest and most innovative USPA-sanctioned polo club, nestled in the heart of the world‘s winter equestrian capital, is hosting  tournaments: 6, 8, 12, 20, and 26-goal leagues, WCT Finals, Polo School Ladies League weekly play and 26-goal World Polo League tournaments at both Grand Champions and Santa Rita.

Grand Champions tournaments attract a large international field of players from all corners of the world including Argentina, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Canada, Ecuador, Brazil, Switzerland, France, England, Germany, Uruguay, Azerbaijan, South Africa, Venezuela, Chile, and England.

Season highlights for 2023 are the Sieber Memorial, currently underway; $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament,  John T. Oxley Memorial, WCT Finals and $100,000 World Cup Tournament, a unique 0-40-goal, winner-take-all single-elimination tournament and special events including World Polo League Polo Pride, Sunset Chukkers & Cocktails and Great Futures Polo Day featuring Celebrity Polo.

The biggest highlight of the season is the fifth season of the World Polo League currently underway with the Founders Cup. The nation‘s only 26-goal league features some of the world‘s top players including 10-goaler Pablo MacDonough and team sponsors.

The winter season is being live-streamed locally and worldwide on Wellington-based ChukkerTV (CTV Sports).

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 Polo School, now located at the former Pony Express facility, operates in Wellington January through May and September through November. The stand-alone USPA-sanctioned polo club, is thriving. It is dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grass roots youth. Its mission is to provide individuals opportunities in polo at every economic and ability level. November. The Polo School has nurtured several junior, men and women polo players now playing in the pro and amateur ranks since its inception.

For more information on leagues or Polo School contact Director of Operations Juan Bollini at  561-346-1099 or Cale Newman at 561-876-2930.

By Sharon Robb
Photos by Candace Ferreira

Related Topics

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



For players only: The biggest players data base in the world. Subscribe now and receive invitations to polo tournaments all over the world.
Subscribe to POLO+10 Newsletter
Newsletter Subscriptions *(Required)


Would you like to have your own magazine for your tournament?

Feel free to contact us!
POLO+10 produces your tournament magazine.

Please write to