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Bendabout Avenges Losses To Catamount With 7-5 Victory In Stanford Financial Group - 100th U.S. Open Polo Championship At International Polo Club Palm Beach

WELLINGTON, Florida – In a game featuring the only two American 10-goalers and two of the pre-tournament favorites, Bendabout avenged two losses to Catamount with a 7-5 victory in a first-round game of the Stanford Financial Group – 100th U.S. Open Polo Championship Tuesday at International Polo Club Palm Beach. The 12 combined goals is the lowest scoring game of the tournament.

Bendabout’s victory clinched a spot in Sunday’s quarterfinals against an opponent to be determined. Catamount’s chances to advance to the quarterfinals depend on the outcome Wednesday’s San Saba vs. Isla Carroll game.

“We didn’t want to be dependent on another team, so I played it like a final in terms of horses, and so did the rest of the team,” said 10-goaler Adam Snow of Bendabout, referring to the team’s focus and energy.

The win also avenged a 10-9 loss to Catamount in the 26-goal C.V. Whitney Cup final on March 21 as well as a 13-10 loss to Catamount in the 22-goal Joe Barry Memorial in late January.

“We’re still angry from the previous finals and we liked to channel our energy in a positive way,” said Snow. “I felt like we were in control of the game, even though we were up by only one goal most of the game.”

Bendabout scored the first goal, 1:50 into the game when 5-goaler Alejandro Novillo Astrada jumped on a loose ball and tapped it through. Bendabout never trailed, although Catamount tied it at 1-1 when 9-goaler Carlos Gracida made a nice run from midfield, dribbling to the goal with 23 seconds left.

Bendabout was able to build leads of two goals three times, but Catamount cut the margin to one every time. Bendabout patron Gillian Johnston converted a nice near-side pass from Snow with 1:44 remaining in the fifth chukker, giving the winners their largest margin, 7-4.

Gracida quickly cut the lead to 7-5 when he picked up a loose ball and dribbled in just 18 seconds into the sixth chukker, but neither team was able to score despite several chances.

Catamount had numerous chances to get back into the game, but Gracida missed a 40-yard penalty shot with 2:14 left in the third chukker and 10-goaler Mike Azzaro experienced the same poor result with 1:20 remaining, both going wide left. Gracida also missed a 60-yard penalty midway through the fourth chukker.

Catamount also missed other scoring opportunities throughout the game, either shooting wide or having a horse kick the ball.

But Catamount, especially Azzaro, did not look particularly sharp and Snow noticed it at the beginning of the match.

“I heard Mike and Carlos talking to each other at the beginning,” said Snow. “I felt like there was a little crack in their armor.”

Snow led Bendabout (3-1) with four goals while 10-goaler Miguel Novillo Astrada, Alejandro Novillo Astrada and Johnston scored one goal each.

Gracida led Catamount (2-2) with three goals while Pelon Escapite added two goals. Azzaro, who has been playing with a herniated disk in his back, and patron Scott Devon did not score.

High-goal polo action in the Stanford Financial Group – U.S. Open Polo Championship continues Wednesday with a tripleheader beginning at 10 a.m. when White Birch (3-0) plays Everglades (1-2) followed at noon with Orchard Hill (0-3) against Lechuza (2-1) and concluding at 3 p.m. when San Saba (1-2) plays Isla Carroll (1-2).

Thirteen teams, featuring nine 10-goalers, have entered the Stanford Financial Group – U.S. Open Polo Championship, the most prestigious polo tournament in North America, highlighting the historic inaugural polo season at the International Polo Club Palm Beach. The 26-goal tournament culminates with the championship match on Sunday, April 18 at 3 p.m. Fifteen teams, in 2002, is the record for teams in a U.S. Open.

The Stanford Financial Group – U.S. Open will be played on the International Polo Club Palm Beach’s five world-class Bermuda-grass playing fields and teams will also take advantage of the many private fields in Wellington.

The Houston-based Stanford Financial Group, a privately-held global network of affiliated companies, has signed on as the title sponsor of the 100th U.S. Open Polo Championship in 2004. Stanford’s family of companies provides international private banking, trust and brokerage services and real estate development. Currently, the Stanford organization manages in excess of $17 billion in deposits and assets, serving clients on six continents. The success of the group is the result of entrepreneurial spirit and drive spearheaded by third generation Chairman and CEO R. Allen Stanford.

Like the high-goal teams on the field, the International Polo Club Palm Beach has amassed a lineup of prestigious sponsors for the U.S. Open. The Stanford Financial Group – U.S. Open tournament will feature a different presenting sponsor every Sunday, including Bombardier Aerospace, Cunard Ltd. and HUMMER, Mitchell-Peck Jewelers, Piaget and Roder.

As always, there will be a delicious Sunday brunch, catered by The Breakers, open to the public preceding the featured stadium match, along with the now traditional and very popular champagne divot stomp and an post-match awards presentation.

Individual tickets for the U.S. Open tournament Sunday games range from $15 for general admission to $40 for terrace lawn seating and are available in advance. For ticket information for the U.S. Open, please call the club at (561) 204-5687 or visit online at Tickets are also available at the gate.

International Polo Club Palm Beach is located at 3667 120th Avenue South, between Pierson Road and Lake Worth Road, in Wellington.


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