Audi, Flight Options Begin 26-Goal Tournament Season Friday In C.V. Whitney Cup

Feb 21st, 2014 | By | Category: English Polo News

21 Feb 2014

Grand Champions Polo Club-based pro teams Audi and Flight Options will be among an eight-team field when the 26-high goal season gets under way on Friday with the C.V. Whitney Cup, the first jewel of America’s Triple Crown of polo.

The first of three 26-goal tournaments opens with four games in the single-elimination tournament at International Polo Club.

Flight Options (Melissa Ganzi, Miguel Novillo Astrada, Eduardo Novillo Astrada, Alejandro “Negro” Novillo Astrada) opens with Crab Orchard at noon.

Audi (Marc Ganzi, Gonzalito Pieres, Rodrigo Andrade, Gonzalo del Tour) plays Valiente at 2 p.m.
The other games are Lechuza Caracas vs. Orchard Hill at 10 a.m. and Alegria vs. Coca-Cola at 4 p.m.

Melissa Ganzi will play for the first time with all three Astrada brothers. Photo by Scott Fisher

With so many balanced teams there is no clearcut favorite.

Alegria (Julian Mannix, Facundo Obregon, Mariano Aguerre, Hilario Ulloa) won last year with a 14-10 victory over Lechuza Caracas. Obregon was named Most Valuable Player and Ulloa’s horse Mia was named Best Playing Pony.

The C.V. Whitney Cup semifinals are Feb. 26 at 1 and 3 p.m. and final on March 2 at 3 p.m.

It will be the first time Melissa Ganzi, one of only two woman players competing in the high goal tournament, will play with all three Astrada brothers.

 Marc Ganzi and Gonzalito Pieres will play against Vailente.
Photo by Scott Fisher

“I am really looking forward to playing with the three Novillos,” Ganzi said. “They already have a great chemistry as brothers. I think we have a really strong competitive team.”

Ganzi is coming off the 20-goal season playing with Miguel Astrada, ranked 9 goals in the U.S. and 10 goals in Argentina. They have played in several tournaments in the U.S. in past years and won the Ylvisaker Cup.

Ganzi played with Alejandro Astrada two years ago with Nic Roldan and Andrade and had a successful season. It will be the first time she has played with Eduardo. Ganzi called her team “an underdog favorite.”

“They are three brothers who know how to play well together,” Ganzi said. “The chemistry is there and they have their own style of play.”

“I think all the teams are really balanced which makes the level of the teams pretty even,” Ganzi said. “There are strong teams in terms of Valiente and Crab Orchard with marquis players such as Facundo Pieres and Adolfo Cambiaso.”

The team is reminiscent of her husband’s Audi team that won the 2009 U.S. Open with brothers Gonzalito, Facundo and Nico Pieres.

This year’s Audi team is one of the tournament favorites led by 10-goaler Gonzalito Pieres. Andrade and del Tour are the newest additions to the Audi roster.

Ganzi and his Audi teams have been to the final of the U.S. Open three times (2009, 2010, 2011). Ganzi, one of the world’s top-ranked amateur players, has won every major U.S. tournament during his career.

Pieres, ranked sixth in the world and son of polo great Gonzalo Pieres, Sr., has been ranked 10 goals since 2010 and been a member of Audi’s three U.S. Open team finalists.

Andrade, the Brazilian 8-goaler ranked 12th in the world, is one of the game’s most physical players and crowd-pleasers. Andrade and Pieres played together during the 20-goal season for Tonkawa and recently lost to Audi in the George Haas Cup.

Miguel Astrada and his brothers lead Flight Options. Photo by Scott Fisher.

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 there 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 other two 26-goal tournaments are the prestigious USPA Piaget Gold Cup and 110th Maserati U.S. Open Polo Championship.

For game recaps, news, features and photos of Grand Champions Polo Club-related events, go to Game video can also be seen at PoloNow Network at


JANUARY 30-FEBRUARY 23: Sunday, George Haas Cup Final, Audi vs. Faraway vs. CT Energia winner, noon; Ylvisaker Cup Final, El Cabure vs. Valiente, 3 p.m.

FEBRUARY 21-MARCH 2: C.V. Whitney Cup-Friday, Orchard Hill vs. Lechuza Caracas, 10 a.m.; Crab Orchard vs. Flight Options, noon; Valiente vs. Audi, 2 p.m.; Alegria vs. Coca-Cola, 4 p.m.; FEB. 26, Semifinals 1, 3 p.m.; FEB. 27, Subsidiary semifinals, 1, 3 p.m.; MARCH 2, Subsidiary 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


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).


THURSDAY: KIG vs. Casablanca, 12 goal, Field 8, 3 p.m.; Hawk Hill vs. Far Niente, 12 goal, Field 2, 3 p.m.; Skaneateles at Pony Express, 12 goal, 4 p.m.

FRIDAY: SLS Jets vs. Elegante Polo/Tuff Riders, 5 goal, Polo West, 10:30 a.m.; Naimara/Custer Capital vs. Hawk Hill, 8 goal, Cypress Field, 11 a.m.; Top Gun at Santa Clara, 5 goal, 4 p.m.

SATURDAY: Grand Champions vs. Top Gun, 5 goal, Field 10, 10 a.m.; Skaneateles vs. Palm Beach Equine, 12 goal, Field 8, 1 p.m.; Goose Creek vs. Catamount, 12 goal, Field 2, 3 p.m.

SUNDAY: Ganaraska/Custer Capital at Patagones Azul, 5 goal, 10 a.m.; Tonchala vs. Tuff Riders, 8 goal, Las Palmas, 11 a.m.; Hawk Hill at Pony Express, 12 goal, 11 a.m.; SLS Jets at Patagones Blanco, 5 goal, 1 p.m.


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