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Colorado Knocks Off Valiente To Capture Sterling Cup; Diego Cavanagh Named Most Valuable Player

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Colorado Knocks Off Valiente To Capture Sterling Cup; Diego Cavanagh Named Most Valuable Player
WELLINGTON, Fla., February 10, 2019---In one the biggest upsets in Sterling Cup history, Colorado won its first major 20-goal tournament Saturday at windy Grand Champions Polo Club.

By Sharon Robb

Sterling Cup champion Colorado players Rob Jornayvaz, Santi Torres, MVP Diego Cavanagh and Nick Johnson.

Colorado (Rob Jornayvaz, 2, Santi Torres, 6, Diego Cavanagh, 9, Nick Johnson, 3) rallied for a thrilling 9-8 upset of defending champion Valiente (Kian Hall, 3, Robertito Zedda, 4, Poroto Cambiaso, 3, Adolfo Cambiaso, 10) in front of a good local crowd and worldwide ChukkerTV audience.

It was Colorado's biggest tournament win in its two-year history as a team and first time all four players won the Sterling Cup including Johnson, who was making his 20-goal tournament debut.

Winning Colorado players Rob Jornayvaz, Santi Torres, Diego Cavanagh and Nick Johnson

"That was a very fun game," said Rob Jornayvaz. "This is our biggest win. The team all kind of came together at the last minute."

Argentine 9-goaler Diego Cavanagh was named Most Valuable Player after scoring a game-high four goals including the game-winner with two minutes left on an amazing 60-yard safety conversion in  windy conditions.

Santi Torres of Colorado drives downfield with Valiente's Poroto Cambiaso and Kian Hall in pursuit.

"That was pretty unreal," Jornayvaz said of Cavanagh's game-winner. "Honestly, we got very lucky in that corner that the ball went out off of Robertito and we got a safety.
"To be honest he smoked it," Jornayvaz said. "It went right in the center. It went super high and just dropped right in the goal. I didn't see who got a mallet on it but it was already too late when it went in. Then it was just about running out the clock."

Added Torres: "Diego is really good at penalties. I felt it was good when he was going to the ball and I knew it was going to go."

Adolfo Cambiaso tries to hook Diego Cavanagh of Colorado.

Colorado finished the five-day, six team tournament undefeated with a 3-0 record. In early games, Colorado defeated Santa Clara, 9-8, and Casablanca, 13-10, and finished with 31 goals in the tournament.

Valiente (2-1) also scored 31 goals in three games. In its first two games, Valiente defeated Sebucan, 14-9 and Audi, 9-4. Both teams are in the J5 Equestrian organization.

Diego Cavanagh of Colorado leans for the ball with Kian Hall of Valiente.

"This is a big win for the organization," Torres said. "Obviously, it was going home either way. It was even better that it was for our side. It was a tough game. They were a really good team. It was four against four today and it was for everybody."

In the fast-paced game, the lead changed hands five times late in the second half. Valiente led 5-3 at halftime and dominated most of the game until 6:08 in the fifth chukker when Cavanagh scored to tie the game at 6-6.

Rob Jornayvaz of Colorado hooks Poroto Cambiaso of Valiente.

Valiente regained the lead, 7-6, on Zedda's 30-yard penalty conversion with 2:43 left. Colorado tied the game at 7-7 after Johnson tapped in Cavanagh's missed safety with 49 seconds left in the fifth chukker.

Colorado took the lead, 8-7, for the first time with 7:23 left in the sixth chukker on Cavanagh's 30-yard penalty conversion. Four minutes later, Adolfo Cambiaso scored to tie the game, 8-8.
Colorado took the lead for the second and final time when Cavanagh nailed a safety lofting the ball 60 yards to the left of the goal post, curving in with the help of the wind. After that it was just a matter of Colorado eating up the clock.

Nick Johnson of Colorado goes for the big hit downfield.

"For sure I was aiming left because I knew there was some wind," Cavanagh said. "It was likely the wind would keep the ball. Once I hit it, I started to pray.
"To win a tournament is always amazing," Cavanagh said. "It was very competitive. We played against Adolfo Cambiaso and Juan Martin Nero in this tournament. It was a big win and very important for us. We are very happy."

In addition to Cavanagh's four goals, Jornayvaz and Torres each had two goals and Johnson had one for Colorado.

Adolfo Cambiaso of Valiente attempts to hook Santi Torres of Colorado.

Torres turned in one of his finest performances in a final, playing aggressively, coming up with key steals and defending well. It was also Torres and Johnson who kept the ball away from Valiente in the final minute.

Poroto Cambiaso of Valiente works the ball out of the air with Diego Cavanagh of Colorado defending.

"It was a fun final and luckily we got up again and won by one," Torres said.
Zedda led Valiente with three goals, including two on penalty conversions. Hall and Adolfo Cambiaso each had two goals and Poroto Cambiaso had one goal.
In addition to the strong field of players, the tournament showcased some of the best horses in the sport and were awarded three separate honors. Two of the three horses are owned by J5 Equestrian.

Moonshine, played by 13-year-old Poroto Cambiaso in the third chukker, was named Best Playing Pony for the championship final.

Moonshine, played by Poroto Cambiaso, Best Playing Pony for the championship final.

Festival, a stallion played by Adolfo Cambiaso in the sixth chukker, was selected Best Playing Pony for the tournament. Festival is out of Dolfina Cuartetera B04 and Dolfina Ventura.

Festival, a stallion played by Adolfo Cambiaso, Best Playing Pony for the tournament.

Lufthanza, ridden by Poroto Cambiaso in the fourth chukker and owned by La Dolfina, earned the coveted American Polo Horse Association best registered horse of the game.

Lufthanza, ridden by Poroto Cambiaso, American Polo Horse Association best registered horse of the game.

The APHA was created in 2006 by the legendary Polo Hall of Famer Sunny Hale to recognize polo ponies in America and encourages events that showcase them and hard-working dedication of grooms.

In last year's Sterling Cup Adolfo, Mia and Poroto Cambiaso made history by winning their first ever high goal tournament together. Along with teammate Magoo Laprida, Valiente knocked off pre-tournament favorite Audi (Marc Ganzi, Henry Porter, Nic Roldan, Nico Pieres), 10-4, in the final. Mia Cambiaso was MVP.

Colorado teammates Diego Cavanagh, Nick Johnson and Rob Jornayvaz celebrate after the game.

The Sterling Cup is one of two prestigious tournaments that the nation's busiest and most innovative polo club resurrected three years ago after a 22-year absence. It was brought back by Grand Champions owners Melissa and Marc Ganzi in hopes of recapturing polo's glory days. It was the second tournament of the 22-goal season at Palm Beach Polo after the January Challenge Cup and last played in 1995. It was considered the 22-goal championship and attracted as many as eighteen teams.

During the winter polo season, Grand Champions, the nation's largest and innovative USPA-sanctioned polo club, is hosting 22 tournaments: 6, 8, 12, 20, and 0 to 40 goals, WCT Finals and women's weekly league play and 26-goal World Polo League tournaments at both Grand Champions and Valiente Polo Farm.

Grand Champions awards table for the Sterling Cup.
Photos by Gabrielle Stodd

Grand Champions tournaments attract a large international field of players from all corners of the world  including India, Mexico, New Zealand, Chile, Costa Rica, Argentina, Canada, Ecuador, Brazil, Switzerland, France, Germany, Uruguay, Azerbaijan, Australia, South Africa, Nigeria, Venezuela and England.

Season highlights for 2019 are the Sterling Cup, March 1-31 $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament, March 1-16 John T. Oxley Memorial and March 3-24 $100,000 World Cup Tournament, a unique 0-40-goal, winner-take-all single-elimination tournament and inaugural World Polo League.

Grand Champions and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique polo facility in Wellington with 120 stalls in five self-contained barns, exercise track, five climate-controlled tack rooms, vet room, staff quarters, guest house and three polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation including one field for stick-and-ball with plans to build more polo fields in the future.

Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm caters to men, women and youth polo players at all levels and ages. Its' 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 Grand Champions President Melissa Ganzi when the club first opened.

The Polo School, a stand-alone USPA-sanctioned polo club, 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 June 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.

Feb. 9-23, Halo Polo Trophy (6 goal)
Feb. 9-23, Top Pony Series (8 goal)
Feb. 9-23, Sieber Memorial Trophy (12 Goal)
Feb. 6-17, World Polo League, All-Star Challenge, at Grand Champions & Valiente
Feb. 20-Mar. 3, Founders Cup, at Grand Champions & Valiente
Women's League (6-12 goal), Every Wednesday & Monthly Final at Santa Rita Polo Farm

Mar. 1-23, Madelon Bourdieu Memorial (6-goal)
Mar. 1-23, Limited Edition 8-Goal Series
Mar. 1-23, Top Pony 12-Goal Series
March 1-31, $50,000 National 12-Goal
Mar. 1-16, John T. Oxley Memorial (20 Goal)
Mar. 3-24, $100,000 World Cup (0-40 goal)
Mar. 6-24, World Polo League, Palm Beach Open, at Grand Champions & Valiente
Mar. 27-Apr. 14, World Polo League, Triple Crown of Polo, at Grand Champions & Valiente
Women's League (6-12 goal), Every Wednesday at Santa Rita Polo Farm

Apr. 5-20, Las Acacias (4-8 goal)
Apr. 6-20, National President's Cup
April 2-6: Sunny Hale's Legacy WCT Finals, (8 goals, 16 goals, Open) at Grand Champions. 


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 June and September through November. For lessons contact Juan Bollini at 561-346-1099. 

Chukker TV is live streaming the entire winter polo schedule. 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; 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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