Adolfo Cambiaso, the face of the 26-goal World Polo League, was all smiles at the conclusion of its inaugural season in Wellington.
Cambiaso, who played for four different teams in the league’s our tournaments, led Colorado to a 9-8 victory over Audi in the season-ending Triple Crown of Polo final on April 14 at Grand Champions Polo Club.
“The first season, it’s been amazing,” said Cambiaso, who turned 44 on April 15. “We have the best tournaments. For the first year, we have things to improve. What I believe (is) we should do finals on Saturday to help both leagues. We should have more sponsors (patrons), there is a lot we can do.”
Cambiaso said he was happy with the level of competition and especially the fields because they encourage fast polo.
Cambiaso, in 1993 at age 17, became the youngest 10-goaler (the maximum rating) in the history of the sport. He is generally acknowledged as the world’s best player.
Playing with so many different teams wasn’t planned, according to Cambiaso.
The first team was determined by a coin flip and draw for the All-Star Challenge and Cambiaso was picked for Grant Ganzi’s Grand Champions team. Then he played the Founders Cup with Bob Jornayvaz’s Valiente, his regular team. He played the Palm Beach Open with SD Farms and patron Sayyu Dantata of Nigeria before joining Rob Jornayvaz and Colorado for the Triple Crown tournament.
“Dantata wanted to try for next year, so next year he could come and play,” said Cambiaso. “And Rob wanted to play with me. It’s fun to play with everybody. You don’t get bored. It’s good.”
In the last three tournaments, Cambiaso’s teams went 13-1, winning two tournaments and reaching the final in the other. He lost in the final of the Founders Cup with Valiente before leading SD Farms to an 11-7 victory over Audi in the Palm Beach Open final. Cambiaso scored five goals as SD Farms took command and control right from the outset en route its victory over Audi.
Colorado used the same formula in the Triple Crown final, leading 9-3 before Audi mounted a furious second-half comeback.
Audi closed to within 9-8 on a 30-yard penalty shot by 10-goaler Pablo MacDonough with 4:58 remaining in the game, which was delayed twice by rain – 40 minutes at the start and about 20 minutes with 3:51 left.
After the second rain delay, Audi had at least three chances to tie the game before Colorado won a throw-in in their own defensive zone with 24 seconds remaining and cleared the ball to clinch the victory. Colorado (5-0) earned $90,000 for the win.
Cambiaso had one goal with Juan Martin Zubia and Jero Del Carril each had four goals for Colorado. MacDonough led Audi (4-1) with four goals, while patron Marc Ganzi had three and Kris Kampsen added one. Audi finished with an 8-4-1 record over the last three tournaments, seemingly getting stronger every game.
High-goal patrons Bob Jornayvaz of Valiente and Grand Champions Polo Club co-founders Marc and Melissa Ganzi of Wellington spearheaded the effort to keep 26-goal polo alive with the formation of the World Polo League.
“It went about as good as it could have gone,” said Colorado patron Rob Jornayvaz.