La Martina Captures Beach Polo World Cup; Nic Roldan Named MVP
Miami Beach started the new year on a high note with the resurgence of beach polo on the windswept beachfront of W South Beach Hotel.
By Sharon Robb
In an exciting finish, La Martina defeated Macallan, 5-4.5, to win the Beach Polo World Cup in wind gusting up to 15 miles per hour on Sunday in front of a good crowd that braved wind, cold and rain during the three-day tournament.
Winning La Martina teammates Jesse Bray, Riley Ganzi and Juan Bollini with the La Martina Cup
With La Martina trailing by a half-point, teenager Riley Ganzi scored the winning goal with 30 seconds left to enable her team to win the coveted La Martina Cup.
With Jesse Bray, Juan Bollini and Ganzi, La Martina finished the tournament undefeated at 3-0 and finished with 18 goals in three games. Bray and Ganzi each had two goals and Bollini added one in the final.
Jesse Bray of La Martina works the ball toward goal with Nic Roldan of Macallan defending.
Macallan (Sarah Siegel Magness, 1, Marc Ganzi, 3, Nic Roldan, 8), trailing for most of the game, went ahead, 4.5-4 on Marc Ganzi's penalty conversion with 35 seconds left in the game before his daughter's heroics. Macallan finished with a 2-1 record and 14.5 goals.
Nic Roldan of Macallan was selected Most Valuable Player.
Roldan, one of America's top players rated at 8 goals, was named Most Valuable Player after scoring three goals and wowing the crowd with his big hitting and consecutive polo ball bounces off his mallet.
La Martina teammates Riley Ganzi and Jesse Bray working together.
Centarous (bred from Twist of Lemon and Juan), ridden by Bray in the fourth chukker, and owned by Wellington, Fla.-based Santa Rita Polo Farm, was selected Karma Best Playing Pony.
A packed crowd in the VIP tent enjoying the day at beach polo.
Created by Reto Gaudenzi and after a successful run from 2005-2008, co-founders Tito Gaudenzi, Melissa and Marc Ganzi, Fernando Torres and Bash Kazi revived the world's largest beach tournament and plan to make it an annual event. It is expected to return in January 2019.
Riley Ganzi of La Martina goes to hook Nic Roldan of Macallan.
"We are so happy to be back here," Tito Gaudenzi said. "We have been working on this for five years to bring polo back. We're here and we're here to stay. We are so happy with the turnout and the support. Events like this really help bring the sport closer to the people and promote polo which is most important.
Fans shopping at the La Martina pop-up store during beach polo. Photo by Sheryel Aschfort
"The weather was a challenge but we had a great turnout," Gaudenzi said. "I want to thank all the people behind the scenes--our staff, the grooms and everyone who made this possible."
In the subsidiary Macallan Cup final, Melissa Ganzi, Sebastian Schneberger and Alejandro Novillo Astrada led Chateau d'Esclans to a 5.5-4 victory over Team Karma (Rommy Gianni, Ricardo Mansur, Juan Cruz Greguoli). Astrada led scoring with three goals and Ganzi added one.
VIP guests snacked on a wide array of food during the three-day tournament.
It was Ganzi's second title of the weekend. Playing with Cecilia Cochran and Sheryl Sick, Bal Harbour Village captured the Women's Polo Cup with a 2-0.5 win over victory over Peoples For Barbados (Danielle Sciaretta Whelan, Liselotte Sandberg, Kerstie Allen). Cochran and Ganzi each scored a goal. Allen was named MVP. Rebecca, a 12-year-old mare owned and ridden in the fourth chukker by Ganzi, was selected Best Playing Pony.
In the game for fifth and sixth place, David Yurman defeated W. South Beach, 4.5-2. Team David Yurman (Trent Lott/Omar Mangalhi, 1, Pelon Escapite, 7, Tito Gaudenzi, 3) won its first game of the tournament behind balanced scoring against Team W South Beach (Will Jacobs, A, Thomas Egali 5, Pablo Dorignac, 7). David Yurman led the entire game, 0.5-0, 1.5-0 and 3.5-2. Mangalhi and Escapite each scored two goals. Dorignac and Jacobs, making his beach polo debut, each scored one goal.
Shark Tank's Kevin O'Leary was among VIP guests.
In the Bass Museum Charity Game, Bass Museum Blue (Sterling Jones, Dawn Jones, Marc Ganzi) took an early 3-0 lead in the opening chukker before Bass Museum Orange (Ines Rivero, Louis Aguirre, Tito Gaudenzi) rallied to tie the game in the second chukker. With time running out, Dawn Jones scored the game-winner for a 4-3 Blue victory. She finished with two goals. Actor Sterling Jones also had two goals. Rivero, a Victoria Secret model, led her team with two goals. Aguirre, who began his career in 1988, is an anchor and reporter at WPLG-Channel 10 in Miami.
Bass Museum winning Blue Team Sterling Jones, Dawn Jones and Marc Ganzi.
The four-day event started Thursday with player and sponsor introductions and tournament draw with popular polo announcer Jan-Erik Franck and player kickoff party. Despite bitter cold early in the week, the production crew managed to put together an impressive arena and staging area. The unexpected rain, cold and wind didn't seem to dampen the spirits of players or fans.
MVP Kerstie Allen of PFB battles for the ball between defenders. Photo by Sheryel Aschfort
W South Beach Hotel was the official hospitality sponsor; Bass Museum, the official charity partner and Wellington-based Grand Champions the host polo club.
Grand Champions Polo Club 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 polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation and stick-and-ball fields.
Players during the team presentation and draw at W South Beach.
The club features monthly 6, 8 and 12-goal tournaments and women's weekly league play during the winter season in addition to two 16-20 tournaments, $50,000 National 12 Goal, $100,000 World Cup winner-take-all 0-40-goal tournament, WCT Tournament and USPA National President's Cup.
Grand Champions caters to men, women and youth polo players at all levels. Its expert staff can customize a complete playing experience including horses, pros and certified umpires in addition to lessons and practice sessions as part of its' Polo On Demand program, the only polo club in the U.S. to offer the unique program.
The Club Hotline is 561-644-5050. It will be updated every day at 8 a.m. for both players and fans.