Grand Champions Defeats Valiente, Secures Final Semifinal Berth In Palm Beach Open; Doubleheader On Sunday At Grand Champions Polo Club
WELLINGTON, Fl., March 17, 2019---The stage is set for this week's semifinals of the Palm Beach Open.

In a wild World Polo League game Saturday at Valiente Polo Farm, Grand Champions (Grant Ganzi, 3, Juancito Bollini, 4, Rodrigo Andrade, 9, Juan Martin Nero, 10) held off Valiente (Bob Jornayvaz, 2, Agustin Nero, 6, Alejandro Taranco, 8, Pelon Stirling, 10) for a thrilling 8-7 victory to clinch the fourth and final semifinal spot at Valiente Polo Farm.

Agustin Nero of Valiente attempts to ride off Rodrigo Andrade of Grand Champions.

Grand Champions (3-1) now joins Colorado (3-0), SD Farms (4-0) and Audi (3-0) for what promises to be two exciting semifinal games next week.

"I'm really happy to make it to the semis, it means a lot to me," said Ganzi, whose team won the Founders Cup. "Two semis, two tournaments in a row. It was a really tough game, it could have gone either way honestly. We had some moments at the end where we almost let up. I'm just happy we were able to hold on and play some good defense when it mattered.

Alejandro Taranco of Valiente battles for possession.

"It's any team's tournament now," Ganzi said. "The other three teams are tough teams. They are well-organized and they are all four complete teams. Sayyu is a hell of a player, my dad is playing some of his best polo now and Kian has played well in Rob's absence. I don't think it's a coincidence you have four guys playing well at the moment."

On Sunday, Audi plays Alegria at 11 a.m. at Grand Champions Field One and at 4 p.m. in the WPL feature game at Grand Champions Field 2, Colorado plays Black Watch to complete bracket play.

Rodrigo Andrade of Grand Champions and Alejandro Taranco of Valiente battle for the ball.

Valiente, looking for its first win of the Palm Beach Open, gave Grand Champions everything it could handle, leading by two goals in the fifth chukker, in a hardfought battle before falling to 0-4.

"I wouldn't have believed it if someone told me Valiente was 0-4," Ganzi said. "I don't think it's ever happened before. This tournament has definitely had things happen that no one expected. You couldn't have predicted all the stuff that has happened, a lot of crazy things.

Valiente teammates Alejandro Taranco and Pelon Stirling defend Juan Martin Nero of Grand Champions.

"We showed determination in this game, being down two goals and coming back," Ganzi said. "We were fighting the whole time. We had a one-goal lead and kept pushing and pushing. We just kept retaliating back and holding back. It was huge to maintain that lead until the end and showing resilience."

After tying 1-1 and 2-2 after the first two chukkers, Valiente took a 5-4 halftime lead on Agustin Nero's goal in the closing minute.

Grant Ganzi of Grand Champions backs away Valiente's Agustin Nero's scoring attempt.

Grand Champions opened the second half outscoring Valiente, 2-0, with back-to-back goals from Bollini. Valiente counter punched with a 2-1 fifth chukker to tie 7-7 and set up an exciting sixth chukker.

The final chukker was a dogfight. While both teams squandered away scoring opportunities, it was both defenses that came up big. Ganzi turned away Nero's scoring threat early in the chukker. 

Juancito Bollini of Grand Champions hooks Pelon Stirling of Valiente.

With 3:40 left, Juan Martin Nero scored what turned out to be the winning goal off a broken play. Andrade shook off a brief injury with 3:17 remaining. 

Both teams missed scoring opportunities in the final two minutes. Andrade turned away a Valiente scoring attempt and Bollini then cleared away Taranco's scoring attempt to end the game.

Bob Jornayvaz of Valiente defends Juancito Bollini of Grand Champions.

"We have had some tough games," Bollini said. "We expected this kind of game from them. In some parts we played very, very well and in some parts we can improve on. I'm just happy we won, it was a war. 

"It was very important for us to win because this gets us straight to the semis and no penalty shootout," Bollini said. "I think we were all in the same boat, we knew this was an important game and that was our common thought." 

Juan Martin Nero of Grand Champions goes for the big neck shot.

Argentine 10-goaler Juan Martin Nero led Grand Champions with a team-high four goals, including two on penalty conversions. Bollini added three goals including back-to-back goals in the fourth chukker and Andrade added one goal.

Nero's brother Agustin was leading scorer on his team with a team-high four goals. Stirling scored two goals and Taranco added one goal.

Agustin Nero of Valiente attempts to block a back shot from Juancito Bollini of Grand Champions.

The only blemish on Grand Champions record is the tournament-opening loss to Alegria. Since then, the four-man team has scratched and clawed its way back to be in championship contention.

"I forgot that loss the second we stopped playing the game," Ganzi said. "Once that game ended, I was already focused on the next game. That game was already behind us. We had a little slump to begin the tournament after our huge last tournament win. We have played better since then. Every game we have showed very good moments as a team."

In the early morning game at Jan Pamela Field, SD Farms (Sayyu Dantata, 2, Santi Torres, 6, Guillermo Terrera, 8, Adolfo Cambiaso, 10) defeated Flexjet, 13-10, in a fun, light atmosphere. 

Guillermo Terrera of SD Farms works the ball out of the air with Alfredo Bigatti of Flexjet defending.

With SD Farms already in the semifinals, the game was an opportunity to fine tune horses. The game was close in the first half with Flexjet taking a 2-1 lead after the opening chukker. SD Farms came back with a 3-2 second chukker for a 4-4 tie. The seesaw battle continued with Flexjet taking a 6-5 halftime lead on one of Ganzi's game-high seven goals.

SD Farms came out strong in the fourth chukker, outscoring Flexjet, 4-1, for a 9-7 lead. SD Farms controlled the momentum and never relinquished the lead after that despite Flexjet closing the gap, 9-8, in the fifth chukker.

Adolfo Cambiaso defends Alejandro Novillo Astrada of Flexjet as he hits downfield.

Santi Torres and Guillermo Tererra shared scoring honors each with four goals. Dantata added three goals and Cambiaso had two goals.

Melissa Ganzi scored a game-high seven goals. Alejandro Novillo Astrada had three goals and Alfredo Bigatti added one goal. Ganzi, the only woman competing in the World Polo League, has scored 19 goals in the last three games.

Alejandro Novillo Astrada of Flexjet reaches for the ball.

WPL Commissioner Dale Smicklas continues to be pleased with the level of play in the 26-goal league headed into the semifinals and final of the Palm Beach Open, the season's third tournament.

"I have to say that I am still impressed with the time it takes to play a game," Smicklas said. "I am impressed with not only have the players helped us play the kind of polo that I want to play, but the umpires have helped that happen. The level of respect between the players and umpires is second to nothing I have ever seen. 

Adolfo Cambiaso of SD Farms races downfield.

"I think that next week's semifinals for both the open and handicap portions there is going to be some great polo ahead of us," Smicklas said.

The WPL is being live streamed on ESPN Deportes and ChukkerTV/Horseplay with Gus Whitelaw calling the action. For more information go to

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. 

Adolfo Cambiaso of SD Farms defends Pablo Spinacci of Flexjet.

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 All-Star Challenge Draw Tournament, Founders Cup, Palm Beach Open and Triple Crown of Polo.

The World Polo League is open to other teams that wish to compete in one or more of the tournaments. Games are offered on the flat (Open) and on Handicap.

Sayyu Dantata of SD Farms goes for the big hit with Alfredo Bigatti of Flexjet in pursuit.

The World Polo League has attracted a large international field of players from all corners of the world  including Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Nigeria, Uruguay and U.S.

Grand Champions and Valiente are also launching the U.S. National Mixed Doubles Championship, featuring two men and two women with combined handicaps, in March.

Alfredo Bigatti of Flexjet goes for the ball with Guillermo Terrera of SD Farms defending. 
Photos by Ramon Casares

In addition to the World Polo League, season highlights for 2019 at Grand Champions are the Sterling Cup, $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament, John T. Oxley Memorial and $100,000 World Cup Tournament, a unique 0-40-goal, winner-take-all single-elimination tournament and WCT Final.

Grand Champions and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique polo facility in Wellington with 120 stalls in five self-contained barns, exercise track, five climate-controlled tack rooms, vet room, staff quarters, guest house and three polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation including one field for stick-and-ball with plans to build more polo fields in the future.


March 6-24, Palm Beach Open
March 27-April 14, Triple Crown of Polo

Sunday, March 17:
11 a.m. Audi vs. Alegria Grand Champions Polo Club Field 1
4 p.m. Colorado vs. Black Watch at Grand Champions Polo Club Field 2

Wednesday, March 20:
TBD Semifinals

Thursday, March 21:
TBD Semifinals

Saturday, March 23:
TBD Subsidiary Final

Sunday, March 24:
TBD Palm Beach Open Final, GCPC Field 2

Games at Grand Champions Polo Club, Valiente Polo Farm and other local fields.

Chukker TV is live streaming the entire World Polo League season with film material content provided by Polo Channel. ChukkerTV, featuring cutting-edge technology, was the first to introduce state-of-the-art live streaming technology and instant replay in January, 2014 at Grand Champions Polo Club. For advertising opportunities please contact Mike Ferreira at  or Rob Jornayvaz at Polo Channel at

Jan-Eric Franck
"The Voice of Polo"
ESPN West Palm (106.3FM) and ESPN Deportes (760AM) signed an exclusive contract with the World Polo League and will target the West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami markets with various broadcasts, commercials and exposure on radio,, ESPN app and social media platforms to promote the exciting new 26-goal league. With nearly two decades of sustained success in sports and entertainment broadcasting, Josh Cohen is among the most influential, respected and popular on-air personalities and live event hosts in South Florida. Julian Zaldivar has been a part of ESPN West Palm team and ESPN Deportes760AM manager since its inception. He is the host of Comunidad ESPN Monday through Friday that features all-sports talk and interviews with the Latino community leaders from the local Hispanic market.

Josh Cohen
Julian Zaldivar


WHERE: 13444 Southfields Road, on the corner of South Shore Boulevard and Lake Worth Road, Wellington, 33414.

DIRECTOR OF POLO: Juan Olivera,  561-644-5050, juan.olivera @; hotline   561-644-5050.

INFORMATION: For spectators, there are great field side views for tournament action and also the Grand Champions Polo Club Boutique. The club is home base for pro teams Audi and Flexjet. Everyone is welcome to watch every level of polo in a relaxed atmosphere with food and refreshments during the featured games of the winter, spring and fall tournament seasons and other special events. Admission is free except for some special events.

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