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Azerbaijan Land of Fire Upsets Defending Champion Badrutt's Palace On Day One Of 36th Snow Polo World Cup St. Moritz

Azerbaijan Land of Fire Upsets Defending Champion Badrutt's Palace On Day One Of 36th Snow Polo World Cup St. Moritz 

ST. MORITZ, Switzerland, January 25, 2020--Against the breathtaking backdrop of snow-capped Engadin Valley, the 36th Snow Polo World Cup St. Moritz began Friday with an early upset.

Badrutt's Palace's Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Nic Roldan, Juan Bautista Peluso and Melissa Ganzi receiving runner-up President's Trophy gifts after opening day action.

In ideal weather conditions, defending champion Badrutt's Palace (Melissa Ganzi, 1, Juan Bautista Peluso, 2, Nic Roldan, 8, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 8) fell behind early in the opening chukker and never recovered, dropping an 8-4 decision to Azerbaijan Land of Fire (Elcin Jamalli, 2, Pato Bolanterio, 4, Agustin Kronhaus, 3, Santiago Marambio, 6) for the President's Trophy. 
"We knew they were going to be a very good team," Jamalli said. "We are so happy to win. We had a good team game."

Agustin Kronhaus of Azerbaijan Land of Fire hits a neck shot past Nic Roldan of Badrutt's Palace.

In the second match for the Hatecke Challenge Cup, St. Moritz (Zhanna Bandurko/Valery Mishchenko, 0, Robert Strom, 5, Max Charlton, 5, Nacho Gonzalez, 6) defeated Maserati (Kutlay Yaprak, 1, Fabio Meier, 1, Adrian Laplacette Jr., 6, Valentin Novillo Astrada, 6), 6-3.5.

On Saturday in the deciding games for the lineup for Finals' Day on Sunday, Badrutt's Palace will try and regroup against Maserati in the second game at 2:15 p.m. Azerbaijan Land of Fire plays St. Moritz at noon for the Maserati Trophy. 

On Sunday, the La Martina Cup subsidiary is noon followed by the championship at 2:15 p.m.    

Juan Bautista Peluso of Badrutt's Palace battles Agustin Kronhaus of Azerbaijan 
Land of Fire for the ball.

The tournament is being live streamed on both the tournament's official Facebook page and at http:/www.pololine.tv/category/live.

In front of a crowded VIP tent and more than 500,000 worldwide livestream fans, four top-caliber teams competed for the coveted title in the only high goal snow polo tournament on the frozen lake of St. Moritz.

"This is the best playing surface we have ever seen at the event," said founder and Snow Polo World Cup CEO Reto Gaudenzi said. "It means we are seeing fast, open play which is fantastic for the players and spectators, too.

Agustin Kronhaus of Azerbaijan Land of Fire works the near side shot.

"It's great," Gaudenzi said. "We had a very good first day with a big  turnout, good games. We sold 500 bottles of champagne and everyone is happy."

In a physical, hotly-contested opening game, Azerbaijan Land of Fire had a 2-0 lead on handicap and built a 4-0 advantage over Badrutt's Palace in the opening chukker. Azerbaijan Land of Fire extended its lead to 6-0 midway through the second chukker before Badrutt's Palace scored its first goal, the first of two by Roldan.

Elcin Jamalli of Azerbaijan Land of Fire on a breakaway in the third chukker.
Badrutt's Palace could never get its offense untracked. Azerbaijan Land of Fire's defense shut
down most of their offensive attacks and was too quick on offense. Badrutt's Palace had a handful of scoring opportunities including three goals, two by Novillo Astrada, in the second half but was unable to rally.

In the second game, Brit Max Charlton was unstoppable scoring five of his team's six goals. Charlton and fellow countryman Nacho Gonzalez, a four-time tournament winner, were a formidable one-two punch.

St. Moritz broke open a close game (3-2.5) at the end of the third chukker and pulled away.

During the second game, longtime announcer Jan-Erik Franck led the crowd in a stirring rendition
of Happy Birthday to Gaudenzi.

The world's most prestigious polo tournament on snow was the first snow polo tournament in the sport's history created by Gaudenzi.

Snow polo is played around the world including Aspen in Colorado; Cortina in Italy; Tianjin in China, but St Moritz remains the most prestigious tournament that is played on snow, and awards the highest prize money.

Melissa Ganzi, President of Grand Champions Polo Club and co-founder of the 26-goal World Polo League that begins play in February, is making her fifth appearance in the tournament. 

Ganzi was the first woman to win the 35th Snow Polo World Cup St. Moritz last year. She was also the first woman to compete in the St. Moritz Snow Polo Tournament in 2016 and first woman to make the final in 2017. She is also first woman to win both the St. Regis World Snow Polo Tournament in Aspen for Flexjet in 2016 and 2018 Bendura Bank Snow Polo World Cup. 

The bundled-up crowd enjoys opening day action against a breathtaking backdrop.

In last year's St. Moritz event, Badrutt's Palace (Melissa Ganzi, 0, Juan Bautista Peluso, 0, Alfredo Bigatti, 8, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 8) won for the first time in the hotel's hallowed history.

Badrutt's Palace defeated previously unbeaten Maserati (Valery Mischenko, 0, Robert Strom, 5, Chris Hyde, 5/Jack Hyde, 4, Max Charlton, 6) with an impressive 7-3 victory in front of a record crowd

The players and sponsor presentations at Kulm Hotel's Sunny Bar and Fondue Night at Hotel Steffani on Thursday kicked off the social events.      
Snow Polo World Cup St. Moritz has its own ice sculpture.

The highlight of the weekend is the Snow Polo Night Gala Dinner Baku Moritz Night Saturday at Badrutt's Palace Hotel, located in the center of St. Moritz.

The three-day tournament is the social event of the season. Social events are being held both on the lake and first-class hotels around St. Moritz. Local chefs offer a wide array of culinary delights.

Since the tournament's inception, admission to the event has always been free including access to the grandstand. The lavish VIP tent is sold out.

Badrutt's Palace players getting fresh horses in between chukkers.

Badrutt's Palace is the birthplace of Alpine winter sports and favorite European destination. The five-star hotel celebrated 120 years since opening its doors. It won the award for Most Renowned Luxury Hotel 2016 at the Hotel Spa Awards.

Jan-Erik Franck, the voice of polo who also announces the 26-goal World Polo League at Grand Champions and Valiente Polo Farm, is announcing the tournament in St. Moritz before returning to Wellington for the World Polo League's highly anticipated second season.

During the winter season in Wellington, Grand Champions is hosting 19 tournaments, the most of any club in the U.S., including five in January. The highlight of the schedule is the second season of the 26-goal World Polo League, featuring at least 11 teams and most of the best players in the sport.

The polo ponies keep warm as they walk back to the stalls with their grooms.

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  World Polo League, the only 26-goal polo held outside of Argentina featuring the best players in the world.

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.

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.

Badrutt's Palace teammates Melissa Ganzi, Juan Bautista Pelusco, Nic Roldan 
and Alejandro Novillo Astrada.

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.

The official team photo during Thursday's team presentation.
Photos by Kathrin Gralla and Christian Sommer for Snow Polo World Cup St. Moritz

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.


Metropolitan Cup
Tuesday 1/28 4 p.m. Metropolitan Cup Final
 Bushwood vs. Altair

Aspen Valley Cup
Sunday 1/26 12 p.m. Flexjet vs SD Farms at GCPC Field 5
Thursday 1/30 3 p.m. Aspen Valley Cup Final 

Limited Edition
Sunday 1/26 10 a.m. The Limited Edition Final
 Newport vs Beverly Equestrian 

WCT Ladies League
Wednesday 1/29 10 a.m. at Santa Rita

Sterling Cup
Saturday 1/25 3 p.m. SD Farms vs Pilot at Valiente
Sunday 1/26  12 p.m. Grand Champions vs Santa Clara at Jan Pamela Field 2
Monday 1/27 Valiente vs Pilot at Valiente 
Wednesday 1/29 10 a.m. Santa Clara vs Casablanca
Wednesday 1/29 12 p.m. SD Farms vs Valiente
TBA  Sterling Cup Final

JAN 26-Feb 9    $100,000 World Cup, 0-40
JAN-APR           WCT Ladies Wednesday League

FEB 1-29            Halo Polo Trophy, 6
FEB 1-29            Top Pony 8 Goal
FEB 1-29            Sieber Memorial Trophy
FEB 6-16            WPL All-Star Challenge
FEB 19-MAR 1    WPL Founders Cup
FEB 25-MAR 8    $50,000 National 12-Goal

MAR 1-29             Madelon Bourdieu Memorial
MAR 1-29             Limited Edition 8-Goal Series    
MAR 1-28             Top Pony 12-Goal Series
MAR 4-22             WPL Palm Beach Open
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

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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