Ferraris, helicopters Dom Perignon champagne and two teams of top polo players representing North and South America faced off Saturday afternoon on the Bellissimo Field in Wellington to the delight of an assembled mass of spectators for the first High Goal All-Star Polo Challenge.
South America’s Nico Pieres got the ball rolling in the opening chukker with a goal from the field at the 4:39 mark, and brother Facundo Pieres made it 2-0 just one minute later. Martin Pepa’s goal gave South America a 3-0 advantage with just three minutes left in the first period. Kris Kampsen finally got North America on the scoreboard to end the chukker. South America looked impressive as it galloped out to an early 3-1 lead. Both defenses tightened in the second period, and scoring was at a premium. After over six minutes of scoreless play, North America’s Brandon Phillips scored on a goal from the field to cut the South American lead to a single goal, 3-2.
Offensive lays were at a premium in the third, with the first goal of the chukker coming from South America’s Nico Pieres with 2:25 on the clock, 4-2. North America countered with a penalty conversion with under a minute in the period, 4-3. After dominating play in the opening chukker, South America left the field with a narrow 4-3 one goal advantage. When play resumed, the two teams exchanged goals in the fourth with Roberto Bilbao scoring the first goal of the second half. North America pressed the attack, with shots at goal going wide left and right.Tommy Biddle finally found the range with 44 seconds in the chukker and stroked it through. South America continued to lead, but the margin remained at one goal, 5-4.
South America took control of the game in the fifth, with goals from Martin Pepa and Nico Pieres. North America was shut out and trailed by three goals, 7-4 at the end f the chukker. North America staged a serious rally in the sixth. With Kampsen scoring his second goal of the game to get the chukker started, 7-5, while his teammates managed to shut down the South American attack for the balance of the chukker. With 55 seconds in the period, Phillips scored to cut the lead to a single goal. North America took control of the ensuing throw-in and watches Tommy Biddle carry it over 150 yards down the field for the goal as time expired. At the end of a hard-fought contest, the game ended in a 7-7 draw.
Nico Pieres scored three times for South America; Martin Pepa added two goals while Facundo Pieres and Roberto Bilbao added single goals. Phillips led the North American team with three goals. Kris Kampsen scored twice and Nic Roldan and Tommy Biddle added single goals in the match.
Held at a private polo field in Wellington, Fla., hundreds of VIPs mixed, mingled and drank champagne under a majestic, white sailcloth tent. The guest list included: Sam and Libby Edelman, Kelly Klein, Georgina Bloomberg, Hassan Pierre, Bob Johnson, Derek Warburton, Neil Hirsch, Hannah Selleck, Mark and Katherine Bellissimo, Campion and Tatiana Platt and many more. Ferrari North America Marketing Manager Luca Fronti did the bowl in, while Andrea Winning, manager of marketing and customer relations for American Eurocopter handled the coin toss.
Guests enjoyed the beautiful South Florida sunshine, along with a pre-match reception, replete with Dom Perignon champagne. Light hors d’oeuvres reflected the theme for the day, with North American and South American flavors. Partners Ferrari North America, American Eurocopter, Town & Country Magazine and Dom Perignon entertained guests fieldside, where many of them took a moment to check out the Ferrari F12 berlinetta and Helicopter on-site. Created and produced by veteran polo events manager Shamin Abas, whose Public Relations and Special Events firm handles Bridgehampton and Greenwich Polo Clubs, the afternoon was a tremendous opportunity for luxury brands to expose their products and services to an influential group of tastemakers.
“Having partners that shared in the vision we had for the event truly allowed them to shine,” said Abas. “We are so thrilled with the response we’ve received from both inside and outside the polo community. We’re already looking forward to 2014, as well as exploring the possibility of taking the High Goal All-Star Polo Challenge to other cities around the U.S.”