Audi Rally Falls Short In C.V. Whitney Cup Opener, Plays Coca-Cola In Thursday’s Les Armour Cup

Feb 24th, 2014 | By | Category: English Polo News

24 Feb 2014

Audi staged a remarkable second-half comeback that fell short against Valiente in the final two minutes of the game in the opening round of the C.V. Whitney Cup Friday at International Polo Club.

Trailing by six goals in the third chukker, the Grand Champions Polo Club-based pro team of Marc Ganzi, 10-goaler Gonzalito Pieres, 8-goaler Rodrigo Andrade and 7-goaler Gonzalo del Tour lost an 11-9 decision to Valiente (Franco Veronesi, Santi Torres, Sapo Caset, Adolfo Cambiaso) but not without a dog fight.

In a physical, fast-paced game Audi, after being unable to score for the first seven minutes of the game, regained its momentum and started digging itself out of a hole (7-1) to cut Valiente’s lead by three at the half (7-4).

Audi’s Marc Ganzi (1) drives downfield avoiding the mallet of Valiente defender Franco Veronesi (1). Photo by Scott Fisher

In the second half, Audi worked its way back to tie the game (9-9) on one of seven Pieres penalty shots with 5:40 left.

“This is our first game, it’s a totally new team,” Ganzi said. “This is Gonzalo del Tour’s first game here in the U.S. in over two years. We’re all riding new horses. Valiente is a team that has a lot of chemistry…really blew through everyone last year in the U.S. Open and had a bad day in the Open final. That’s the team to beat.”

Valiente player-patron Bob Jornayvaz, sidelined with a riding muscle injury, was replaced by Franco Veronesi, ranked three goals in Argentina which gave Valiente an added advantage.

Audi’s rally was stalled on two plays in the final two minutes of the game.

Audi’s Gonzalo del Tour (2) keep possession and outraces Valiente’s Adolfo Cambiaso (4) downfield. Photo by Scott Fisher

Cambiaso, the world’s top-ranked player, beat his defender playing the offside and scored the go-ahead goal with 2:17 remaining.

With plenty of time left to tie the game, Andrade made an outstanding defensive play with a hook, bump and backhander with 1:40 left but was called for a penalty enabling Caset to score an insurance goal on a penalty shot.

“I like our team, I like the way we fought today,” Ganzi said. “I don’t think any of us gave up, even at 7-1. We stayed at it and kept our heads about us. We just kept preaching let’s get it one goal at a time…one goal at a time. We knew we had to get the game within three at halftime. That was key.

“We have to play better, clearly,” Ganzi said. “We have to win the game from the field. We move forward. We just keep moving.”

Rodrigo Andrade (4) of Audi hits the ball away from Valiente’s Sapo Caset (3). Photo by Scott Fisher

Caset scored a game-high eight goals, including four on penalty shots. Cambiaso was held to two goals. Torres had one goal.

Pieres led Audi with seven goals and del Tour had two.

In other Friday quarterfinal games, Orchard Hill defeated Lechuza Caracas, 12-7; Alegria downed Coca-Cola, 11-8; and Crab Orchard defeated Grand Champions Polo Club-based Flight Options, 14-10.

It was the first of three 26-goal tournaments and first jewel of America’s Triple Crown of polo.

Audi’s Rodrigo Andrade (3) backs the ball over Valiente players toward teammate Gonzalo del Tour (4). Photo by Scott Fisher

Audi will play Coca-Cola on Thursday at 10:30 a.m. in the semifinal of the Les Armour Cup. In the other game, Flight Options will play Lechuza Caracas at 1 p.m.

The C.V. Whitney Cup was created in 1979 and first played at the Retama Polo Center in San Antonio, Texas where it was the handicap counterpart to the U.S. Open Championship. It was moved to IPC in 2003 and has been held every year.

Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney was an American businessman, film producer, writer, government official and owner of a leading stable of thoroughbred horses. He followed in his father’s footsteps as an avid polo player and won the U.S. Open three times.

The Les Armour Cup is the subsidiary tournament of the C.V. Whitney.

For game recaps, news, features and photos of Grand Champions Polo Club-related events, go to www.grandchampionspoloclub.org. Game video can also be seen at PoloNow Network at http://www.polonow.tv/.

Gonzalo del Tour (2) of Audi defends Santi Torres (2) of Valiente. Photo by Scott Fisher

2014 HIGH GOAL SEASON

FEBRUARY 21-MARCH 2: C.V. Whitney Cup- Wednesday, Semifinals, Orchard Hill vs. Crab Orchard 1 p.m., Valiente vs. Alegria, 3 p.m.; Thursday, Les Armour Cup, Semifinals, Audi vs. Coca-Cola, 10:30 a.m., Lechuza Caracas vs. Flight Options, 1 p.m.; MARCH 2, Les Armour Cup final, noon; Championship Final, 3 p.m.

FEBRUARY 28-MARCH 8: Iglehart Cup-FEB. 28, CT Energia vs. Palm Beach Illustrated, 1 p.m.; Casablanca vs. Los Machitos/Heathcote, 3 p.m.; MARCH 5, Semifinals 1, 3 p.m.; MARCH 8, Final, 1 p.m.

MARCH 5-23: USPA Piaget Gold Cup

MARCH 26-APRIL 20: 110th Maserati U.S. Open Polo Championships

Audi’s Rodrigo Andrade (4) drives down the sideboards with backup from teammate Marc Ganzi (1). Photo by Scott Fisher

GRAND CHAMPIONS @ PALM BEACH POLO 2014 TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE

FEBRUARY: Halo Polo Trophy (5 Goals); USPA Cyril R. Harrison Trophy; USPA Sieber Memorial Trophy.

MARCH: Madelon Bourdieu Memorial (5 goals); The Limited Edition 8-Goal Series; USPA Regional President’s Cup (8 goals); $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament; The Top Pony 12-Goal Series; Santa Rita Abierto (16 goals).

APRIL: Las Acacias (5 goals); USPA Association Cup (8 goals); Museum of Polo & Hall of Fame Challenge Cup (12-goals); John T. Oxley Memorial Trophy (16 goals).

GRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUB SCHEDULE

MARCH 9: Great Futures Celebrity Polo Match, 10 a.m., benefitting the Neil S. Hirsch Family Boys & Girls Club of Wellington.

MARCH 17: Buzz Welker Memorial Tournament

APRIL 4-5: Fifth annual Gay Polo League International Tournament

APRIL 8-12: Women’s Championship Tournament

Source: Phelps Media Group