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New high-goal polo league in Wellington to start in 2019
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#1 Posted : Tuesday, April 10, 2018 9:44:38 AM(UTC)

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New high-goal polo league in Wellington to start in 2019

ByKristina Webb- Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Valiente’s Adolfo Cambiaso, seen here playing in the U.S. Open Polo Championship last year, is one of several top players in the world expected to take part in the new World Polo League. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Posted: 1:28 p.m. Tuesday, April 03, 2018

 


 

What is one to do when you’re one of the top polo players in the world, but the largest governing body of the sport in the United States decides to cap games at 22 goals — when you easily could make 26?

Start your own league, of course.

The World Polo League launches next year in Wellington to “fill the void” left behind after the U.S. Polo Association announced in September that all matches would have no more than 22 goals beginning in 2019.

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The new league will go up to 26 goals. Sources in polo said the sport’s most elite players were disappointed by the USPA’s decision.

Behind the World Polo League — which organizers are calling “the New Polo Experience” — are Marc and Melissa Ganzi of Grand Champions Polo Club and Bob Jornayvaz of Valiente Polo Farm. The league will run from Feb. 6 through April 15, according to a news release. Polo legend and former USPA governor-at-large Dale Smicklas will be the league’s first commissioner.

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“This league will be about team owners all working for the good of the sport,” Smicklas said in the news release. “It will be about taking care of those owners, players, grooms and all participants as well.”

Four tournaments with “significant prize money” on the table already are scheduled, the league said: the All-Star Challenge from Feb. 6-17, The Founders Cup from Feb. 20 to March 2, The Palm Beach Open from March 6-24 and the Triple Crown from March 27 to April 14.

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In the news release, Marc Ganzi, Jornayvaz and Smicklas were careful to emphasize that the new league is not being started to compete with other local polo clubs or associations.

“As in previous years, South Florida will offer polo from the lowest level all the way to 26-goal for the teams who want it,” said Ganzi, himself a polo player who has lived in Wellington for nearly two decades. He recently spoke about polo’s continued success in the villageat a Wellington Equestrian Preserve Committee forum.

“We just want to offer access,” he said in the news release. “We love the sport and we want to play 26-goal, but we want to give access to other teams to play it, too, if they so choose.”

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The league has attracted several corporate sponsors and new team owners — along with some of the biggest names in polo.

The All-Star Challenge in February is set to feature players Juan Martin Nero, Gonzalito Pieres, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Pelon Stirling, Rodrigo Andrade, Nico Pieres, Nic Roldan and Adolfo Cambiaso — widely considered the best polo player in the world today.

“I think it’s fantastic for us because we like to play 26-goal polo,” Cambiaso said. “… After Argentina, the 26-goal in America is the highest level of polo in the world. The level shouldn’t go down. Melissa, Marc and Bob think that’s the way it should be. Next year we are definitely going to play 26-goal polo.”

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