Flexjet Opens High Goal Season Sunday In USPA Butler Handicap Cup Final Against Coca-Cola
By Arianna Delin, Sharon Robb for Grand Champions Polo ClubFlexjet will make its high goal season debut Sunday at International Polo Club Palm Beach.
The talented foursome of 9-goalers Gonzalito Pieres and Rodrigo Andrade, 8-goaler Nico Pieres and Melissa Ganzi will play Coca-Cola (Gillian Johnston, Julian de Lusarreta, Julio Arellano and Miguel Novillo Astrada in the featured USPA Butler Handicap final at 3 p.m. on Engel & Volkers Field.
Coca-Cola is coming off a 9-6 loss to Valiente in last Sunday's USPA Gold Cup final.
The USPA Butler Handicap Cup was a late addition to the IPC 26-goal tournament this season.
Gonzalito Pieres and Andrade are coming off playing in the USPA Gold Cup for Audi that was eliminated in the semifinal by Valiente with a 12-8 loss. It was Audi's 26-goal debut and only third game of the season.
Gonzalito Pieres and his younger brother Nico were teammates on Audi's 2009 U.S. Open champion. He also won the USPA Gold Cup and C.V. Whitney Cup in past years with Audi. The former 10-goaler has won nearly every major tournament throughout the world and is the team's field general.
Andrade won the Queen's Cup and Gold Cup the same year and has competed in the U.S. Open. After the U.S. season, Andrade is returning to England to play for RH along with Adolfo Cambiaso and Tommy Beresford.
Rodrigo AndradeGanzi has been playing and training at both Santa Rita Polo Farm and Grand Champions and is coming off a successful snow polo season. Ganzi became the first woman to win a World Snow Polo Championship title with her Flexjet teammates Jesse Bray and Jason Crowder in Aspen in December and was runner-up in the Jan. 29 St. Moritz Snow Polo World Cup final with Bray, Alejandro Novillo Astrada and Tito Gaudenzi for Badrutt's Palace Hotel. Both Ganzi and her son, Grant, have won the Butler Handicap Cup.
Ganzi, the USPA Florida Circuit Governor and Grand Champions President, is one of the sport's top women players and is one of only two women competing in the 26-goal season.
Audi (Marc Ganzi, Nic Roldan, Magoo Laprida, Alejandro Novillo Astrada) and Flexjet are based at Grand Champions Polo Club, one of the nation's top clubs featuring tournaments from four-to-26 goal including next week's $100,000 World Cup (0-26).
Gonzalo Pieres. File PhotosThe Butler Handicap will serve as a tune-up for Flexjet for the U.S. Open that begins next week. Flexjet is one of six teams in the field and one of the favorites.
The Butler Handicap Cup, a USPA national tournament, was played last year at Greenwich Polo Club during its 20-goal season and won by White Birch (Santino Magrini, Hilario Ulloa, MVP Mariano Aguerre, Peter Brant).
The Cup, established in 1954, is named in honor of Paul Butler, in his early 60s at the time, as a subsidiary for the U.S. Open held at Oak Brook Polo Club in Illinois. In the late 90s and early 2000s, the Butler was played only a handful of times (1995, 2006, 2007) and in more recent times (2008-2014) served as a subsidiary to the USPA Gold Cup. In 2014 it was named an official national USPA event. This season the Cup returns to 26-goal status.
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The Butler Handicap final is being live-streamed on USPA Polo Network with content supplied from Wellington-based ChukkerTV, worldwide leaders in polo broadcasting.