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Casablanca Wins WPL All Star Challenge Opener, Plays Valiente In Friday Semifinal; Seminole Casino Plays SD Farms In Thursday Semifinal

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Casablanca Wins WPL All Star Challenge Opener, Plays Valiente In Friday Semifinal; Seminole Casino Plays SD Farms In Thursday Semifinal 
WELLINGTON, Fl., February 12, 2020---With a makeshift lineup, Casablanca won its first game of the World Polo League All Star Challenge Tuesday at Jan Pamela.


Trailing after the first half, Casablanca (Carlitos Gracida 4, Juancito Bollini 4, Rodrigo Andrade 8, Juan Martin Nero 10/Pablo MacDonough 10) rallied to defeat Alegria (Henry Porter 3, Matias Magrini 7, Nachi du Plessis 8, Freddie Mannix 7), 10-7, to advance into Friday's semifinal against Valiente at 4 p.m. at Valiente Polo Farm.

In the first semifinal on Thursday at 11 a.m., Seminole Casino plays SD Farms at SD Farms. 

Matias Magrini of Alegria goes to back a shot as Carlitos Gracida
 of Casablanca defends.

Casablanca, which received a bye in the opening round, played without Grant Ganzi and was replaced by Carlitos Gracida in the starting lineup. After the opening chukker, Casablanca lost Juan Martin Nero to an ankle injury and was replaced by 10-goaler Pablo MacDonough.

Despite the adversity, Casablanca managed to outscore previously undefeated Canadian-based Alegria, 6-2, in the second half including 4-1 in the final chukker.

MacDonough was enjoying the game drinking mate with friends and relaxing before his afternoon $100,000 World Cup game with Audi at Grand Champions when he was asked to replace Nero.

Nachi du Plessis of Alegria battles Carlitos Gracida of Casablanca for the ball.

"The sad thing about all of this is I don't mind having to play two games, of course, but I hope Juanma's leg recovers quickly," MacDonough said. "It may take him some time."

Nero opened the first chukker winning the throw-in and assisting on Andrade's first goal. Moments later, play was stopped when Nero and Porter collided. After an injury timeout, Nero continued playing and scored to tie the game at 2-2. Mannix lofted a 60-yard penalty conversion to enable Alegria to regain the lead, 3-2, before the end of the fast-paced chukker.

Nero remained in the players' tent between chukkers after getting checked on by trainers but was unable to return to the game. After du Plessis scored to give Alegria a 4-2 lead, it didn't take long for MacDonough, playing in jeans, to take control after missing a few goals, to score with 4:28 left in the chukker to trail, 4-3.

Pablo MacDonough of Casablanca hits a neck shot past Freddie Mannix of Alegria.

Early in the third chukker, MacDonough took a tumble off his horse but recovered quickly to return to the game. After three missed scoring attempts by Casablanca, Mannix scored to give Alegria a 5-3 advantage. MacDonough came back to score on a cut shot to cut his team's deficit by one at the half, 5-4.

Casablanca found its rhythm in the second half. Both teams exchanged goals to enable Alegria to hold on to a one-goal lead, 6-5, going into the fifth chukker. After both teams missed scoring attempts, MacDonough tied the game at 6-6 while Casablanca shut out Alegria, 1-0.

"When Pablo came in he was a bit cold," Gracida said. "He was sitting on the sideline drinking mate so he had to warm up a little bit. Once we got the system down to Pablo's style of play which is a little bit different it was easy. It's so easy to play with them."

Juancito Bollini of Casablanca on his way to scoring one of this two goals in the sixth chukker.

It was all Casablanca in the final chukker with Andrade converting a 30-yard penalty to give Casablanca the lead for the first time, 7-6. Bollini then got hot scoring two of the last three goals including one nice run by the left side of the field and cutting back to score on an angle. MacDonough scored his fifth goal with 2:03 left. Bollini's final goal gave Casablanca a 10-6 lead. Du Plessis scored one last goal in the final seconds.

"I think this is a good team," MacDonough said. "The team played very well. Of course, it took me a little bit of time to adjust to the rhythm of the game and the horses and everything which most of them I knew but still it's not easy.

Matias Magrini of Alegria goes to hook Rodrigo Andrade of Casablanca as he 
goes for the big hit.

"I think we had a good game. Juancito scored two really good goals at the end and that gave us a comfortable lead in the last two or three minutes that we didn't suffer much after such a tough game."

Gracida had mixed emotions about playing in place of his friend.

"I didn't even think about how tough it would be coming in," Gracida said. "I feel for Grant because he's my friend so that sucks because you want to see your boys doing well and everything. But I was grateful for the opportunity to play with Rodrigo who has won the British Open, U.S. Open and Argentine Open, the same as Juanma and Pablo.

Juancito Bollini of Casablanca attempts to hook Nachi du Plessis of Alegria about to hit a back shot.

"For me I am just here to try and learn because they play so much quicker," Gracida said. "I tried to adapt to that and be as quick as I could on the transition and be as much help as I can."

MacDonough scored a game-high five goals. Bollini and Andrade each had two goals and Nero scored one goal in the opening chukker before leaving the game.

Mannix led Alegria with three goals and du Plessis had two goals. The 25-goal team also picked up two goals on handicap.

Nachi du Plessis of Alegria works the near side shot between Casablanca teammates Pablo MacDonough and Rodrigo Andrade.

Seminole Casino Coconut Creek is the hospitality sponsor for the World Polo League. Open 24/7, 365 days a year, Seminole Casino Coconut Creek presents a fully integrated, energized, stylish and upscale local's casino experience, world-class dining, including its award-winning steakhouse, NYY Steak and live entertainment.

Tickets, ranging from $15 to $250, for the Sunday featured WPL games at 4 p.m. at Grand Champions Polo Club are on sale now at www.worldpolo.org.

Ticket price breakdown for the new CoCo Cabana Stadium is:

Freddie Mannix of Alegria saves a Casablanca goal attempt with a back shot.

VIP $250, Upper Level (rain or shine, no refunds), includes VIP parking access,  exclusive luxury-style bar and lounge seating, gourmet light dinner buffet, exclusive chef station, VIP Open bar (excluding champagne and bottle service) and VIP swag bags.

VIP $100, Lower Level (rain or shine, no refunds), includes VIP parking access,  exclusive luxury-style bar and lounge seating, gourmet light bites and Worth Avenue retailer experience.

Valet Parking $15, select quality valet parking and general admission.

Co-founded by Grand Champions owner and president Melissa Ganzi and Valiente Polo Farm owner Bob Jornayvaz, the successful 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. 

Juancito Bollini of Casablanca attempts to block a hit by Henry Porter of Alegria.
Photos by ChukkerTV

The WPL, with 11 tournament-quality fields to play on, features the Feb. 6-16 All-Star Challenge, Feb. 19-March 1 Founders Cup, March 4-22 Palm Beach Open and March 28-April 18 Triple Crown of Polo. 

The WPL schedule also features the unique April 6-12 U.S. National Mixed Doubles Championship, created by Jornayvaz. It pairs men and women players.

The World Polo League attracts a large international field of players from all corners of the world  including Australia, Chile, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Argentina, Canada, Ecuador, Brazil, Switzerland, France, Germany, Uruguay, Venezuela, Azerbaijan, South Africa, Nigeria and England.

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.

For more information and to watch the games go to www.worldpolo.org for a complete library of WPL first-season games.


  
2020 WORLD POLO LEAGUE SCHEDULE

All Star Challenge Feb. 6-16

Thursday 2/13 11 a.m. Semifinal 
Seminole Casino vs SD Farms at SD Farms

Friday 2/14 4 p.m. Semifinal 
Valiente vs Casablanca at Valiente Field 1

Sunday 2/16 4 p.m. All Star Challenge Final at GCPC Field 2

Santa Rita Semifinals:
Friday 2/14 10:30 a.m. Sebucan vs J5 La Dolfina at Valiente Field 2
Friday 2/14 1 p.m. Richard Mille vs Aspen Valley at Jan Pamela Field 3
Sunday 2/16 Santa Rita Final 





Feb. 19-Mar. 1, Founder's Cup
Mar. 4-22, Palm Beach Open
Mar. 28-Apr. 18, Triple Crown of Polo
Apr. 6-12, U.S. National Mixed Doubles Polo Championship


Games at Grand Champions Polo Club, Valiente Polo Farm and other local fields, call our hotline to receive daily game and field information.
561-644-5050




Seminole Casino Coconut Creek is the hospitality sponsor for the World Polo League. Open 24/7, 365 days a year, Seminole Casino Coconut Creek presents a fully integrated, energized, stylish and upscale local's casino experience, world-class dining, including its award-winning steakhouse, NYY Steak and live entertainment.

Jan-Eric Franck
"The Voice of Polo"




GRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUB

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@gcpolo.com; 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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Grand Champions Polo Club, 13444 Southfields Road, Wellington, FL 33414
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