By: Rebecca Baldridge
Photos by: ChukkerTV
WELLINGTON, FL, March 1, 2021— Santa Rita took down Richard Mille to win the $100,000 World Cup by 16-14.
Santa Rita (Paquito de Narvaez, Toro Ruiz, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, and Juan Martin Zubia) took on Richard Mille (Marc Ganzi, Jeta Castagnola, Poroto Cambiaso, and Lolo Castagnola). Santa Rita was rated 24 goals while Richard Mille fielded a 22 goal team to start the match with two goals on handicap.
Santa Rita got off to a roaring start at 35 seconds into play when Alejandro Novillo Astrada jumped out in front of Marc Ganzi to score the first goal of the day. A minute later Novillo Astrada found the goal with a nearside tail shot to end Richard Mille’s two-goal advantage. Ganzi converted a Penalty 2, putting Richard Mille back in the lead at 3, but Juan Martin Zubia and Toro Ruiz found the uprights to put Santa Rita back in the lead with 4. With 49 seconds left on the clock, Poroto Cambiaso swept the ball through the posts to end the first chukker at 4-all.
In the second chukker, Santa Rita started the scoring with a successful Penalty 3 conversion by Novillo Astrada, followed by an eye-popping 95-yard shot on goal by Juan Martin Zubia. Thirteen-year-old Paquito Narvaez picked up a pass from Novillo Astrada and slammed it home, putting Santa Rita in the lead by 7-4. With 1:03 left on the clock, Santa Rita lost a challenge on an umpire call and Lolo Castagnola scored to end the chukker 7-5 with Santa Rita still in the lead.
Less than a minute into the third chukker, Juan Martin Zubia broke out in the lead and gained enough ground to check down and fire a shot on goal. Two minutes later Zubia made a slick near-side backshot to Novillo Astrada, who had anticipated the play and made a break downfield. He picked up the pass and ran to goal, putting Santa Rita up by 9-5. With 1:46 left on the clock, Jeta Castagnola picked the ball out of a crowd in front of the goal and put it through the posts. The chukker ended with Santa Rita in the lead by 9-6.
Alejandro Novillo Astrada scored the first goal of the second less than a minute into play, but Richard Mille was determined to fight back. Jeta Castagnola carried the ball downfield to score, cutting Santa Rita’s lead back to 3, but a Penalty 4 on a turning foul allowed Zubia to put another goal on the board. Jeta Castagnola converted a Penalty 2, but Toro Ruiz took a pass to the posts, bringing the score back to 12-8 for Santa Rita. With 1:50 left on the clock, Jeta Castagnola converted a Penalty 2, scratching away at Santa Rita’s lead. With only 48 seconds left to play, Paquito de Narvaez picked up a pass and made an impressive long shot on goal, taking Santa Rita up to 13-9 and belying his one-goal handicap.
The battle continued in the fifth chukker, with Richard Mille playing a hard defensive game. Santa Rita wasn’t able to score from the field but Juan Martin Zubia put two goals on the board with a Penalty 2 and a Penalty 4. At 1:49 Jeta Castagnola picked up a loose ball and took it through the uprights and converted on a Penalty 4 with just over a minute left on the clock. The chukker ended with Santa Rita leading 15-11.
Richard Mille continued its strong defense in the final chukker, and Santa Rita’s only goal came from a Penalty 2 conversion by Alejandro Novillo Astrada. Jeta Castagnola scored two goals from the field and one on a penalty to end the match with Santa Rita prevailing 16-14 to take home the $100k prize.
Juan Martin Zubia was named MVP, and his pony Matina, played in the third chukker, was awarded the American Polo Horse Association Best Playing Pony title. Millionaria, owned by Poroto Cambiaso and also played in the third chukker, was the Grand Champions Best Playing Pony. Notably, the $100k World Cup was 13-year-old Paquito de Narvaez’s first foray into high goal polo, a great start to what looks to be a promising career.