Richard Mille Wins WPL All-Star Challenge Semifinal And Inaugural Richard Riemenschneider Memorial Cup; Pablo MacDonough MVP
WELLINGTON, Fla., February 20, 2023—Richard Mille dominated Brookshire to win the first semifinal of the World Polo League All-Star Challenge Tournament Sunday at Grand Champions Polo Club.
Richard Mille (Gilberto Sayao, 0, Gonzalito Pieres, 9, Pablo MacDonough, 10, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 7) led from start-to-finish for an impressive 15-11 victory over Brookshire (Scott Wood, 0, Pipe Vercellino, 7, Polito Pieres, 10, Jero Del Carril, 8).
Richard Mille will play the winner of Tuesday‘s second semifinal between Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, 3, Tomacho Pieres, 6, Barto Castagnola, 10, Jesse Bray, 7) and Dazos La Fe (David Farache, 0,/Louis Devaleix, 1, Robi Bilbao, 6, Nico Pieres, 9, Francisco Elizalde, 9) in the championship final set for Feb. 26.
Pablo MacDonough, Brand Ambassador for Richard Mille, scored from just about everywhere on the field for a game-high ten goals and was named Most Valuable Player.
Coquetora, an 8-year-old mare, owned and played by Gonzalito Pieres, was selected the World Polo League Best Playing Pony.
Richard Mille, after needing an overtime chukker to beat Audi, 10-9, in the quarterfinals, took better control of the fast-paced game early against Brookshire.
Richard Mille outshot Brookshire, 10-7, and led in throw-ins, 10-6, in the first half. The teams exchanged leads nine times before MacDonough scored with a minute left for a 6-5 lead in the second chukker. Richard Mille never trailed after that.
Richard Mille maintained at least a two-goal cushion in the third chukker. Astrada opened the chukker with a goal at the 5:44 mark for a 7-5 advantage followed by MacDonough‘s steal and goal for an 8-5 lead. Richard Mille maintained its momentum and MacDonough continued to hammer away at goals for a 9-7 halftime lead.
The open run-and-gun play continued in the second half with Richard Mille reeling off three goals for a 12-8 lead going into the fifth chukker. Pieres had the „goal of the game“ when Sayao sent a 20-yard offside pass to Pieres for the score and 13-8 lead early in the fifth chukker. Brookshire could get no closer than four goals in the final chukker.
In addition to MacDonough‘s scoring barrage, Astrada and Pieres each had two and Sayao added one.
For Brookshire, Vercellino scored a team-high five goals, Pieres had three and Del Carril added two. The 25-goal team picked up one goal on handicap.
Richard Mille outshot Brookshire, 17-16, and led in knock-ins, 6-3. The teams each had 12 throw-ins. Brookshire led in penalties, 10-5.
The opening semifinal game also marked the inaugural Richard „Remo“ Riemenschneider Memorial Cup. Richard‘s wife Andrea chose a silver plate that had been given to his parents on their wedding anniversary to be the perpetual trophy.
On Sept. 23, 2022, the polo world lost the former Polo Training Foundation Chairman and longtime supporter. His years of service to the Polo Training Foundation, Virginia Polo Center and the USPA through volunteering, fundraising and mentoring showcase a lifelong commitment to the sport of polo. In 2016, Remo was inducted into the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame for his lifelong dedication to the sport.
„Dick Riemenschneider was a friend of mine for over 60 years…a great friend and great supporter of polo,“ said USPA President Tony Coppola. „He dedicated his life to this sport. Andrea summed it up the other day. She said ‚Dick lived a great life.‘ „He did. He was a great guy and wonderful friend.“
Andrea and daughter Robin presented the perpetual plaque and WPL awards in the post-game ceremony. A moment of silence was held for „Remo“ after Tom Blake‘s stirring rendition of the National Anthem.
In last year‘s All-Star Challenge final, Audi and White Birch renewed their 30-year rivalry. In an explosive game, Audi (Marc Ganzi, 2, Jeta Castagnola, 9, Barto Castagnola, 9, Paco de Narvaez, 6) defeated White Birch (Chris Brant, 0, Lerin Zubiaurre, 7, Mariano Aguerre, 7, Santi Toccalino, 8), 17-12. Jeta Castagnola scored a game-high nine goals and was named MVP.
In addition to the All-Star Challenge, the remaining WPL events are the Founders Cup, Palm Beach Open, Tommy Hitchcock Legacy Memorial, Triple Crown of Polo and Beach Polo World Cup Miami Beach.
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, women‘s weekly league play and 26-goal WPL 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 Sterling Cup, $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament, Sieber Memorial, John T. Oxley Memorial Cup and $100,000 World Cup Tournament, a unique 0-40-goal, winner-take-all single-elimination tournament and special events including WPL Polo Pride and Sunset Chukkers & Cocktails.
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. 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 General Manager Cale Newman at 561-876-2930.
By Sharon Robb
Photos by Candace Ferreira