In one of polo’s biggest upsets, Grand Champions knocked off Valiente, 12-11, in overtime to win the World Polo League Founders Cup Sunday at Valiente Polo Farm. – By Sharon Robb
In front of an overflow crowd, Argentine 10-goaler Juan Martin Nero scored the winning goal in the first two minutes of overtime to upset previously unbeaten Valiente (Bob Jornayvaz, 2, Agustin Nero, 6, Santi Torres, 6, Adolfo Cambiaso, 10).Playing together for the first time in the WPL’s second tournament of the season, Grand Champions finished the eight-team, 26-goal tournament undefeated at 4-0. Nero and teammates Rodrigo Andrade, 9, Grant Ganzi, 3, and Juancito Bollini, 4, earned $60,000 in prize money.
“I don’t know what happened, they say that we won,” joked Nero, named the Tournament Most Valuable Player. Nero also earned the Catena Watch Play of the Day for his game-winner. Andrade was selected Tato’s Game MVP. “I saw Grant was with Adolfito, I was open and went for it. I said to myself ‘I can’t miss this goal.’ I was completely alone. I was lucky to get it. This is huge for us. This is the first tournament we played together and we won. The game was really, good, it was open. We had a lot of fun.”
The stunning victory marked a successful 26-goal final debut of longtime friends and teammates Grant Ganzi, 20, and Juancito Bollini, 22. “I am at a loss for words, I can’t describe it, this is insane,” Ganzi said. “This is a huge upset. The last time Adolfo lost at this level other than last year’s U.S. Open final was a long time ago. It’s tough to beat these guys. Congrats to them, they have been playing unbelievable polo.
Co-founded by Grand Champions owners Melissa and Marc Ganzi and Valiente Polo Farm owner Bob Jornayvaz, the World Polo League is the only 26-goal polo in the world outside of Argentina. The WPL is preserving the highest level of polo and its rich, hallowed tradition in the U.S. The WPL has its own set of simpler fan-friendly rules to improve the flow and action of the game.
The WPL, with 14 tournament-quality fields to play on, includes the Feb. 19-March 3 Founders Cup, March 6-24 Palm Beach Open which gets under way on Wednesday with two games including the debut of SD Farms, and March 27-April 14 Triple Crown of Polo.