WELLINGTON, FL-Jan. 25, 2014––Far Niente won its first game of The Limited Edition 12-Goal Series with an impressive 12-8 victory over Hawk Hill Saturday in front of a packed house at Grand Champions Polo Club.
Far Niente (Gene Goldstein, Michael Bellissimo, Michel Dorignac, Tommy Collingwood) led from start-to-finish and quickly built a 6-1 lead after two chukkers.
“I couldn’t be more happy,” Dorignac said. “We took it really serious and played well as a team. We were focused from the beginning. Everyone did a great job out there.”
Hawk Hill (Phillip MacTaggart, Gringo Colombres, Juan Monteverde, Agustin Arellano) rallied to come within two goals to finish the third chukker trailing by only two, 7-5, at the half.
“I figured that they were going to get their momentum which they did,” Dorignac said. “We just calmed down and never lost our patience. We played hard for the rest of the game. That was the key, we never gave up.”
Dorignac was named Most Valuable Player after scoring a game-high seven goals, including five on penalty shots.
“This was great fun,” Dorignac said. “This was our first time with a full team. This is such a competitive league. It’s a combination of the players, horses and fields.
“I have to say thank you to Marc and Melissa Ganzi, thanks to them we wouldn’t be here, they have done a great job,” Dorignac said. “We all have to be very grateful.”
Bellissimo added two goals for Far Niente and Goldstein and Collingwood each had one goal.
After missing the first two games, Bellissimo rejoined the lineup and had one of his career-best games, playing well on both ends of the field.
“It was great fun,” Dorignac said. “I am so happy we could finally get to play with our full team. Unfortunately, Michael couldn’t play the first two games so we had to use two different substitutes. This was the first time we played together and it worked out good.”
Collingwood and Bellissimo have played together for five years. The team chemistry was evident from the opening chukker.
“I am very happy with the game, we know each other really well and we have been playing team practices a lot,” said Collingwood, a 2009 Wellington High alum. “He played a hell of a game today.
“The idea was to get Michael the ball as much as we could,” Collingwood said. “Michel and I play more together, we take our time and release the ball when we need to and it worked. It’s great playing with Michel, he is a great sportsman and great team player and he uses you no matter what your handicap is.”
For Hawk Hill, MacTaggart was given the Sportsmanship Award and was thrilled walking off with a new saddle.
“It was fun,” MacTaggart said. “If we played like we did in the third and sixth chukker we would have won. We always have fun. It was a good, well-played match. You always play like it’s 0-0.”
Teammates Monteverde and Arellano each scored three goals and Colombres added two goals.
The semifinals of The Limited Edition 12-Goal Series will be played on Wednesday.
For the second consecutive weekend, instant replay was used. Both teams used their one challenge with Hawk Hill winning its challenge in the fifth chukker at the 3:07 mark and Far Niente losing its challenge with 2:58 left in the fourth chukker.
Grand Champions is the first polo club worldwide to utilize the state-of-art instant replay to help improve officiating.
Grand Champions also live-streamed the game for fans at polonow.com.
After the game, Grand Champions provided an asado by Cilantro’s owner Herman Moreira for all tournament participants and fans.
In other Grand Champions at PB Polo games:
The Limited Edition 12-Goal Series: Las Monjitas 10, TLC Development 8. Alejandro Novillo Astrada led scoring with six goals.
The Limited Edition 12-Goal Series: Casablanca 15, KIG 6. Miguel Novillo Astrada led scoring with seven goals for Casablanca that led the entire game including 7-3 at the half.
Aspen Valley Cup 8-Goal: KIG 6, TLC Development 4. Wesley Uys and Chris Nevins each had two goals. Nevins scored the tying and winning goals. Kris Kampsen had three goals for TLC.
Aspen Valley Cup 8-Goal: Tonchala 13, PB Equine/Odosan 11. Tavi Usandizaga scored six goals including his team’s final three goals. Matt Coppola scored a game-high seven goals.
Aspen Valley Cup 8-Goal: PB Equine/Odosan 13, Tuff Riders 9. Matt Coppola led scoring with eight goals for the winning team. Jared Zenni had five goals for Tuff Riders.
Aspen Valley Cup 8-Goal: La Casa Hermosa 14, Tonchala 9. Hector Galindo led La Casa Hermosa with eight goals. Tavi Usandizaga had six goals for Tonchala.
Metropolitan Cup 5-Goal: Pony Express 9, Santa Clara 8. Benjamin Daniels scored three goals including the game-winner. Nico and Luis Escobar each had three goals for Santa Clara.
Metropolitan Cup 5-Goal: Grand Champions 12, Patagones 7. Julio Ezcurra scored seven goals to lead Grand Champions. Juan Olivera added four goals.
For game recaps, news, features and photos of Grand Champions Polo Club-related events, go towww.grandchampionspoloclub.org.
2014 HIGH GOAL SEASON
JANUARY 26: Bobby Barry Cup Final, Flight Options vs. Orchard Hill, Field 2, noon; Joe Barry Memorial Cup, Valiente vs. Tonkawa, 3 p.m.
JANUARY 30-FEBRUARY 23: Ylvisaker Cup
FEBRUARY 22-MARCH 8: Iglehart Cup
FEBRUARY 14: National Museum of Polo & Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
FEBRUARY 16-MARCH 2: C.V. Whitney Cup
MARCH 5-23: USPA Piaget Gold Cup
MARCH 26-APRIL 20: 110th Maserati U.S. Open Polo Championships
GRAND CHAMPIONS @ PALM BEACH POLO 2014 TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE (HOTLINE 561-373-0073)
JANUARY: Metropolitan Cup (5 goals); Aspen Valley Cup (8 goals); The Limited Edition 12-Goal Series; Friday Night Under The Lights Arena Polo.
FEBRUARY: Halo Polo Trophy (5 goals); USPA Cyril R. Harrison Trophy; USPA Sieber Memorial Trophy; Friday Night Under The Lights Arena Polo.
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 (561-644-5050)
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 3-5: Fifth annual Gay Polo League International Tournament
APRIL 8-12: Women’s Championship Tournament
GRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUB
WHERE: 13444 Southfields Road, on the corner of South Shore Boulevard and Lake Worth Road, Wellington.
INFORMATION: There are great field side views for tournament action at the home base of pro teams Audi and Flight Options. Everyone is welcome to watch high, medium and low goal polo in a relaxed atmosphere during the winter, spring and fall tournament season and other special events including International Cup in November, Buzz Welker Memorial Junior Tournament in March, ProKidz Tournaments in the spring and fall, Women’s Championship Tournament and Gay Polo League International Tournament, both in April.