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Santa Rita Trenque Lauquen Wins World Polo League Founders Cup Opener; All-Star Challenge Final On Sunday

© Candace Ferreira

WELLINGTON, Fla., February 25, 2023 — On a hot day, Santa Rita Trenque Lauquen won its first game of the World Polo League season Saturday at Grand Champions Polo Club.

Santa Rita Trenque Lauquen (Melissa Ganzi, 0, Lucas James, 7, Juan Martin Zubia, 9, Juan Martin Nero, 10) controlled most of the game for a 10-7 victory over Travieso (Teo Calle, 1, Tincho Merlos, 7, Nacho Novillo Astrada, 8, Poroto Cambiaso, 10).

On Saturday, March 4, Santa Rita Trenque Lauquen will now face Casablanca at 11 a.m. and Travieso will play Audi at 1 p.m. in Bracket Two play.

Founders Cup action continues on Wednesday with Brookshire playing Richard Mille at 11 a.m. and Audi facing Casablanca at 4 p.m.

The WPL All-Star Challenge championship final featuring 2021 champion Richard Mille (Gilberto Sayao, 0, Gonzalito Pieres, 9, Pablo MacDonough, 10, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 7) and Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, 3, Tomacho Pieres, 6, Barto Castagnola, 10, Jesse Bray, 7) is Sunday at 4 p.m.

Against Travieso, Santa Rita Trenque Lauquen found its momentum and cohesiveness it was searching for in its All-Star Challenge opening 13-9 loss to La Fe.

Travieso, playing with substitute player Poroto Cambiaso, kept the game close in the first half, but got into foul trouble and couldn‘t find its offensive scoring punch in the second half.

Zubia and Nero did a good job of containing Cambiaso in the second half, holding him to one goal. It was the first time Nero played against Cambiaso since the teammates won the Argentine Open with La Dolfina Saudi.

After a 4-4 opening half, Santa Rita Trenque Lauquen outscored Travieso, 3-1, in the fourth quarter to take a 7-5 lead. Santa Rita Trenque Lauquen never trailed after that, outscoring Travieso 6-3 in the second half.

Santa Rita Trenque Lauquen got balanced scoring from its lineup. Zubia led with four goals and Ganzi, James and Nero each had two goals. For Travieso, Cambiaso had four goals, three in the first half, and Calle had two. The 25-goal team was awarded one goal on handicap.

Santa Rita Trenque Lauquen outshot Travieso, 19-11. Travieso led in knock-ins, 7-5, throw-ins, 10-6 and fouls 9-5.

The second World Polo League tournament features eight teams. The WPL plays with a player‘s highest handicap in the world.

The two-point conversion is in play during the Founders Cup. If a goal is scored from half field or farther and the ball is untouched by another player that goal will count as two points.

The World Polo League, the only 26-goal polo played outside of Argentina, is in its fifth season with a star-studded lineup that features six 10-goalers including Pablo MacDonough, Barto Castagnola, Juan Martin Nero, Jeta Castagnola, Polito Pieres and Sapo Caset.

In last year‘s Founders Cup, Audi (Marc Ganzi, 2, Jeta Castagnola, 9, Barto Castagnola, 9, Paco de Narvaez, 6) defeated Seminole Casino Coconut Creek (Melissa Ganzi, 0, Gonzalito Pieres, 10, Juan Martin Zubia, 8, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 8), 13-9. De Narvaez was MVP.

The world-class league will run through April 16. In addition to the Founders Cup, the remaining WPL events are the 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, Polo School Ladies League weekly 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, the inaugural Richard Riemenschneider 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 will be 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 General Manager Cale Newman at 561-876-2930.


2023 World Polo League Founders Cup Schedule

Wednesday 3/1
11am Brookshire vs Richard Mille
4pm  Audi vs Casablanca

Thursday 3/2
11am Pampa Norte Biotricity vs Kaia Polo

Saturday 3/4
11am Santa Rita Trenque Lauquen vs Casablanca
1pm  Travieso vs Audi

Sunday 3/5
1pm  Pampa Norte Biotricity vs Richard Mille
4pm Kaia Polo vs Brookshire

Tuesday 3/7
11am  Santa Rita Trenque Lauquen vs Audi
2pm Travieso vs Casablanca

Wednesday 3/8
11am  Pampa Norte Biotricity vs Brookshire
2pm  Kaia Polo vs Richard Mille

Friday 3/10
11am  WPL Founders Cup Semifinal 1
4pm  WPL Founders Cup Semifinal 2

Sunday 3/12
4pm – WPL Founders Cup Final

By Sharon Robb
Photos by Candace Ferreira

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