WELLINGTON, Fla., March 14, 2022 — Audi continues to dominate the World Polo League‘s fourth season.
Audi (Marc Ganzi, 2, Jeta Castagnola, 9, Barto Castagnola, 9, Paco de Narvaez, 6) broke open a close game in the fifth chukker to defeat Seminole Casino Coconut Creek (Melissa Ganzi, 0, Gonzalito Pieres, 10, Juan Martin Zubia, 8, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 8), 13-9, Sunday at windswept Grand Champions Polo Club.
Audi finished the two-week, nine-team tournament undefeated with a 4-0 record. Seminole Casino Coconut Creek, the wildcard entry, finished 2-2.
Paco de Narvaez.
„It feels really good to win another tournament,“ Ganzi said. „The team is functioning really well. Everyone played a long list of horses today so now it‘s about preserving the horses and making sure we can get to the next one and one more after that.“
Paco de Narvaez, playing one of his best games of the season, particularly in the second half, was named Most Valuable Player.
Nelita, played by Barto Castagnola, was selected the World Polo League Best Playing Pony.
Gonzalito Pieres and Barto Castagnola.
Open Lujuria, played by Gonzalito Pieres, was selected Associon Argentina Criadores de Caballo de polo.
Catwoman, played by Jeta Castagnola and owned by Santa Rita Polo Farm, was the American Polo Horse Association Best Playing Pony.
Seminole Casino Coconut Creek jumped out to a 2-1 lead behind goals by Zubia and Pieres, the first of his five penalty conversions. Audi had a 2-1 second chukker with a Ganzi penalty conversion and goal by Jeta Castagnola to tie 3-3 after the second chukker.
Juan Martin Zubia and Jeta Castagnola.
Audi, dominating the bowl-ins, took a 7-5 halftime lead outscoring Seminole Casino Coconut Creek, 4-2. Pieres cut Audi‘s lead to one, 7-6, with another penalty conversion but it was the closest Seminole Casino Coconut Creek would get.
Audi, winning 80 percent of the bowl-ins throughout the game, was a well-oiled machine in the fifth chukker with a 4-1 chukker and 11-7 lead headed into the final chukker.
DeNarvaez, working hard on defense setting up the Castagnola brothers, scored to open the sixth chukker for a 12-7 advantage. Seminole Casino Coconut Creek was unable to mount more than two offensive attacks for goals.
Guests enjoyed a delicious cake from Beth Townsend at Cake Effects Bakery.
„They had a couple of chances to go up by one or two and they missed a couple penalties,“ Ganzi said. „I think we‘ve always demonstrated that we can capitalize on other teams‘ mistakes. The boys jumped on a couple loose plays and we got two quick goals off two plays where they should have scored goals.
„If you think about it in a game that‘s pretty tight that‘s a four-goal swing really fast and I think that was the big difference. Both teams played really hard. It was a really close game. In the fifth chukker had they gotten those two penalty fours it‘s tied going into the sixth and it‘s anyone‘s game. Instead, we go the other way and we score a goal and get that two, three-goal cushion and it was tough for them to recover.“
„The Borin Brothers“ treated guests to live music during halftime.
Audi got balanced scoring from its lineup. Jeta Castagnola scored a team-high five goals. Barto Castagnola and Ganzi each had three goals and de Narvaez added two second-half goals.
Pieres scored a game-high six goals for Seminole Casino Coconut Creek. Novilla Astrada had two goals and Zubia added one.
Last year Ganzi, Jeta Castagnola and de Narvaez were members of the winning Richard Mille team in the Founders Cup.
Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Jeta Castagnola, and Barto Castagnola.
Audi and Seminole Casino Coconut Creek advanced into the championship with one-goal wins in the semifinals.
Seminole Casino Coconut Creek knocked off previously undefeated Brookshire Polo (Valentino Echezarreta, 3, Nic Roldan, 8, Rufino Bensadon, 8, Pancho Bensadon, 7) in the final second, 8-7. Audi defeated defending champion Richard Mille (Santos Bollini, 2, Paquito de Narvaez, 2, Pablo MacDonough, 10, Juan Martin Nero, 10), 10-9 in overtime.
Audi begins its quest for a third WPL title this week when it opens play Wednesday against Richard Mille. Seminole Casino Coconut Creek‘s first game is Thursday against Brookshire.
In the WPL season-opening 26-goal All-Star Challenge tournament, Audi defeated White Birch (Chris Brant, 0, Lerin Zubiaurre, 7, Mariano Aguerre, 7, Santi Toccalino, 8), 17-12. Jeta Castagnola was MVP.
During the 2021 WPL season, Richard Mille qualified for a record four championship finals, winning three of them. In the Palm Beach Open, Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Barto Castagnola, Juan Martin Nero) defeated Richard Mille (Marc Ganzi, Jeta Castagnola, Pablo MacDonough, Paco de Narvaez), 12-9. Barto Castagnola was MVP.
The World Polo League, now in its fourth year and 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. The remaining WPL tournaments are the Palm Beach Open, currently underway; Triple Crown of Polo and Beach Polo World Cup Miami Beach.
The WPL‘s new Coco Cabana features polo fare, open bar, rose bar, cigar experience with Montecristo, Worth Avenue retail Pop-Up, Seminole Casino Coconut Creek giveaways and unique photo opportunities. Guests have the opportunity to purchase individual tickets at $250 per person inside the air-conditioned tent or a patio lounge for four guests at $1,000 which includes a bottle of Veuve Clicquot.
MVP Paco de Narvaez.
Grand Champions has also added Sunset Chukkers and Cocktails, presented by Seminole Casino Coconut Creek held Tuesday late afternoon on Field One for players and guests at 4:45 p.m.
Grand Champions, the nation‘s largest 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 also hosting various levels of polo. The high goal club tournaments feature the Sterling Cup, $100,000 World Cup and Santa Rita Abierto.
Associon Argentina Criadores de Caballo de polo Open Lujuria played by Gonzalito Pieres.
The 16-goal league play includes the Grand Champions Cup, Power Horse Invitational and Pedro Morrison Memorial.
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, after a successful Metropolitan Cup, continues with the Halo Polo Trophy and Madelon Bourdieu Memorial.
There is also the Polo School Grand Champions Women‘s League, co-founded by Melissa Ganzi and Alina Carta, for all ages and playing ability held Wednesdays at 10 a.m. at Santa Rita Polo Farm.
World Polo League Best Playing Pony Nelita, played by Barto Castagnola.
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 and ultimate polo destination with 18 well-manicured polo fields including 13 world-class tournament grade, 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.
American Polo Horse Association Best Playing Pony Catwoman, played by Jeta Castagnola.
The Polo School, now located at the former Pony Express facility, 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