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Woodrow Captures Top Pony 8-Goal League Title; Sterling Giannico Named Most Valuable Player


Woodrow Captures Top Pony 8-Goal League Title; Sterling Giannico Named Most Valuable Player
WELLINGTON, Fl., March 1, 2020---Woodrow rallied in the second half to capture the Top Pony 8-Goal League title Saturday at wind-chilled Jan Pamela.
Top Pony 8-Goal champion Woodrow's John Gobin, Chris Finley, Sterling Giannico, Agustin Arellano and Hope Arellano.

Trailing 2-1, 4-2 and 5-3 in the first three chukkers, Woodrow (Hope Arellano 1, Agustin Arellano 3, Sterling Giannico 4, Chris Finley 0) turned it around in the second half to defeat Altaris (Antonio Arellano -1, Jamal Nusseibeh 0, Santos Merlos 2, Kris Kampsen 6), 9-8.
Sterling Giannico of Woodrow waits on a pass from teammate Agustin Arellano with Kris Kampsen of Altaris defending.

Sterling Giannico, 26, was named Most Valuable Player to finish out an outstanding month that included winning the $100,000 World Cup with Gracida Wine.

Trick or Treat, played by Agustin Arellano, was Best Playing Pony.

Hope Arellano of Woodrow works the near side with Kris Kampsen of Altaris defending.

The team finished the league undefeated at 4-0. Altaris finished 2-2. During regular season league play, Woodrow defeated WPL, 10-6; Skaneateles, 9-5; and Altaris, 9-8.

"I think in the first half we were just a little anxious and nervous," Giannico said. "We relaxed a little more and focused on the ball. We were already celebrating the goal before we even made it. We definitely changed that up in the second half and also did a little bit of changing with the man which made a huge difference.

Kris Kampsen of Altaris attempts to hook Agustin Arellano of Woodrow.

"We just took our time, we knew what we had to do. I don't know what happened in the first half, it just wasn't us."

After a slow start in the first half, the Middleburg, Va.-based Woodrow team shut out Altaris in the fourth and fifth chukkers and led 9-5 early in the sixth chukker. Altaris scored the last three goals of the game but ran out of time to tie it up.

Hope Arellano of Woodrow works the boards with Jamal Nusseibeh of Altaris defending.

"It was so much fun, I am so happy I got to play with Woodrow, it was a blast," said Hope Arellano, one of the sport's top women players rated at 7 goals in the women's rankings and one goal in the men's. 

"It was exciting to finish undefeated. We have a super fun team and the other team was playing really, really well. I think in the first half we were rushing a little bit. We were taking our men but we were rushing a little bit when we went to goal. At halftime we regrouped a little bit and reminded ourselves to take a breath before we go.

Kris Kampsen of Altaris attempts to hook Hope Arellano of Woodrow.

"The second half we started playing better and got a little more confidence," Arellano said. 

Giannico, who hopes to find a team to play with in March, is playing some of the best polo of his career. It was Giannico's debut playing with Woodrow. 

Hope Arellano of Woodrow leads into her shot with Antonio Aguerre defending.

"It was a pleasure playing with them," Giannico said. "It was a fantastic season and I really enjoyed playing with Chris, Hope and Agustin. They are warriors on the field and that just makes my job easier."

Even more satisfying was receiving the MVP award from polo great Mariano Aguerre, who helped to mentor him in the U.S. in 2014.

Santos Merlos of Altaris and Sterling Giannico of Woodrow race to the ball.

"It was really nice playing against his son and watching him grow up into a polo player," Giannico said. "He has a great future."

Giannico and siblings Hope, 16, and Agustin Arellano, 22, each had three goals for Woodrow. 

Chris Finley of Woodrow follows up his shot.

Kampsen led Altaris with three goals. Merlos had two goals and Aguerre added one goal. The team also picked up one goal on handicap.

During the winter season in Wellington, Grand Champions is hosting 19 tournaments, the most of any club in the U.S. The highlight of the schedule is the second season of the 26-goal World Polo League currently underway, featuring 10 teams and most of the best players in the sport.

Santos Merlos of Altaris and Sterling Giannico of Woodrow race to the ball.

With 18 safe and well-manicured fields, including 11-tournament grade, the club will host every level of polo for men, women and children including the WPL, the only 26-goal polo held outside of Argentina. 

The club 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.

Agustin Arellano of Woodrow defends Kris Kampsen of Altaris.

Grand Champions is coming off its finest fall season in the club's 13-year history. It was the only club in the nation to stage two 20-goal fall tournaments in addition to the International Cup and Legends of Polo Carlos Gracida Memorial. The club also hosted a full schedule of successful and highly-competitive medium goal tournaments.
Best Playing Pony Trick or Treat played by Agustin Arellano of Woodrow.

Grand Champions and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique polo facility, nestled in the heart of the world's winter equestrian capital Wellington. It features 120 stalls in five self-contained barns, exercise track, five climate-controlled tack rooms, vet room, staff quarters, guest house and four polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation including one field for stick-and-ball and new parking lot.

Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm's expert staff can customize a complete playing experience including horses, pros and certified umpires in addition to lessons and practice sessions as part of its' Polo On Demand program, created by Melissa Ganzi when the club first opened.

Top Pony 8-Goal finalists Woodrow and Altaris with John Gobin and Mariano Aguerre.

The Polo School, a stand-alone USPA-sanctioned polo club, is thriving at Grand Champions and Santa Rita Polo Farm. It is dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grass roots youth. Its' mission is to provide individuals opportunities in polo at every economic and ability level. Scholarships are available. The Polo School operates in Wellington January through May and September through November. Headed by Director of Operations Juan Bollini, The Polo School has nurtured several men and women polo players now playing in the pro and amateur ranks since its inception.

Grand Champions awards table for the Top Pony 8-Goal Final.
Photos by ChukkerTV
Halo Polo Trophy 6 Goal
Sunday 3/1 10 a.m. Halo Polo Cup Final
Mayer Ranch vs Court Lin Frae at GCPC #4
Seiber Memorial Trophy 12 Goal
Sunday 3/1 1 p.m. Seiber Memorial Final 
Beverly Equestrian vs Novo Polo at Jan Pamela #2
WPL Founders Cup
Sunday 3/1 4 p.m. Founder's Cup Final
Scone vs SD Farms at GCPC #2

Wellington Open 
Sunday 3/1 10:30 a.m. Wellington Open Final 
Casablanca vs Richard Mille at GCPC #1
Sunday 3/1 11:30 a.m. Equuleus Trophy
Equuleus vs Savanna at Equuleus

Sunday 3/1 12:30 p.m. Valiente vs J5/LaDolfina at Valiente

MAR 6-29             Madelon Bourdieu Memorial
MAR 8 10 a.m.     Great Futures Polo Day
MAR 6-28             Limited Edition 8-Goal Series    
MAR 5-14             Top Pony 12-Goal Series
MAR 4-22             WPL Palm Beach Open
MAR 5-14             $50,000 National 12-Goal
MAR 28-APR 18   WPL Triple Crown of Polo
MAR 31-APR 4     WCT Finals

APR 4-19            Las Acacias, 4-8
APR 6-12            U.S. National Mixed Doubles Polo Championship
APR 9-12            World Polo League Beach Polo World Cup, Miami Beach
FEB-APR           WCT Ladies Wednesday League

Polo Hotline 561-644-5050

The Polo School at Grand Champions and Director of Operations Juan Bollini are dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grass roots youth. The school's mission is to provide individuals opportunities in polo. The Polo School operates in Wellington January through May and September through November. For lessons contact Juan Bollini at 561-346-1099. 

ChukkerTV, featuring cutting-edge technology, was the first to introduce state-of-the-art live streaming technology and instant replay in January, 2014 at Grand Champions Polo Club. For advertising opportunities on ChukkerTV please contact Mike Ferreira at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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.
ChukkerTV, 13444 Southfields Road, Wellington, FL 33414
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