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    PH: ChiaroFoto/GCpolo.com

  • Polo at Grand Champions Polo Club

    PH: ChiaroFoto/GCpolo.com

Polo at Grand Champions Polo Club
Polo at Grand Champions Polo ClubPolo at Grand Champions Polo Club

Polo at Grand Champions Polo Club

Palm Beach Illustrated Wins Thriller, Captures $100,000 World Cup

April 15, 2018
April 15, 2018
Palm Beach Illustrated won the coveted $100,000 World Cup Saturday at Grand Champions Polo Club. The defending champion and underdog going into the championship final won its second consecutive title with a thrilling 10-9 victory over Grand Champions in front of a packed house.

Palm Beach Illustrated won the 12-team, winner-take-all tournament in the final minute of regulation time over Grand Champions. With the game tied 9-9 with 1:10 left, Gracida, son of legendary Hall of Famer and former 10-goaler Carlos Gracida, slipped past a defender and crushed a neck shot through the air dead center through the goal posts.

In the closing seconds, Monteverde came up with a clutch defensive back shot to stall a last-minute goal attempt by Grand Champions. Wellington High School alum Tommy Collingwood, 26, the only returning player off last year's champion team, was named Most Valuable Player. Collingwood was outstanding at back with his blocked goals, steals, booming passes and back shots to teammates.

Playing only its fourth game together as a team, the 20-goal rated Palm Beach Illustrated team started the game with a four-goal lead over 24-goal rated Grand Champions and stayed in the lead until the sixth chukker when Grand Champions mounted a rally behind its 10-goaler.

The fast-paced game was physical from the opening chukker with Palm Beach Illustrated marking the man closely while building on its lead. Palm Beach Illustrated led 4-1 after the first chukker and 7-2 after the second. With Ganzi and Bollini creating space, Nero and Novillo Astrada went to work trying to close the gap in the third, outscoring them 3-1 to trail 8-5 at halftime.

After a scoreless defensive battle in the fourth chukker, the teams tied 1-1 in the fifth with Palm Beach Illustrated still leading, 9-6. In an impressive comeback, Grand Champions rallied behind Nero's three unanswered points to tie the game at 9-9 and give them new life until Gracida's heroics.

Palm Beach Illustrated is undefeated in three major money tournaments: the 2017 and 2018 $100,000 World Cup and 2016 $50,000 National 12-Goal, all hosted by Grand Champions.

The tournaments attracted 12 teams from 0-to-26 goal rating. The inaugural champion was Palm Beach Illustrated, another 21-goal underdog with players Jared Zenni, Santi Torres, Agustin Obregon and Collingwood. In last year's final, Palm Beach Illustrated won with an impressive 13-7 victory over Valiente I.

Palm Beach Illustrated: Carlitos Gracida 4 (2 goals), Juan Monteverde 5 (1), Peco Polledo 6 (2), Tommy Collingwood 5 (1). Total: 20. 
Grand Champions: Grant Ganzi 2, Juancito Bollini 4, Juan Martín Nero (7 goals), Alejandro Novillo Astrada 8 (2). Total: 24.
Score Palm Beach Illustrated: (4-0) 4-1, 7-2, 8-5, 8-5, 9-6, 10-9.
MVP: Tommy Collingwood.
APHA best registered horse of the final: Chaja, played by Grant Ganzi and owned by Santa Rita Polo Farm.
Grand Champions Polo Club BPP of the tournament: Orangina, played by Alejandro Novillo Astrada and owned by Santa Rita Polo Farm.
Grand Champions Polo Club BPP of the final: Mica, played by Juan Martín Nero in the sixth chukker.