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Isla Carroll, Las Monjitas, Pony Express Post Opening Day Wins In Stanford Financial Group - 100th U.S. Open Polo Championship At International Polo Club Palm Beach

WELLINGTON, Florida – Pancho Bensadon scored seven goals and 15-time champion Memo Gracida provided guidance and two key goals to lead 1997 Isla Carroll to a 15-9 rout over Orchard Hill in the first round of the Stanford Financial Group – 100th U.S. Open Polo Championship Wednesday at International Polo Club Palm Beach.

In other first-round action, 10-goaler Javier Novillo Astrada scored eight goals to lead Las Monjitas over Millarville and 10-goaler Bautista Heguy scored six goals, including the game-winner with 56 seconds remaining, to lift Pony Express over Old Pueblo 11-10.

Isla Carroll, led by Bensadon’s four goals and patron John Goodman’s two goals, jumped out to an 8-3 halftime lead over Orchard Hill, which reached the U.S. Open final in 2002 and 2001. Orchard Hill rallied in the fourth chukker to cut the margin to 9-7 on a 40-yard penalty shot by 8-goaler Julio Arellano with 1:24 remaining. But Gracida stole the ball and scored with three seconds remaining to stretch the margin to 10-7 heading into the fifth chukker.

Isla Carroll dominated the fifth chukker, with goals by 8-goaler Sugar Erskine, Gracida and Bensadon, to virtually clinch the victory.

Erskine finished with four goals while Gracida and Goodman finished with two goals each for Isla Carroll (1-0). Arellano led Orchard Hill (0-1) with five goals while 10-goaler Eduardo Heguy and 7-goaler Nicolas Roldan added two goals each. Patron Steve Van Andel did not score.

Millarville scored the game’s first two goals, both by 7-goaler Frederick Mannix, but Las Monjitas responded with four unanswered goals in the second chukker and never trailed again.

Millarville tied the game at 7-7 on two penalty shots by 8-goaler Mariano Gonzalez but Las Monjitas countered with two goals in the final minute – a 60-yard penalty shot by Astrada and a tap-in by 8-goaler Silvestre Donovan with six seconds remaining to stretch the margin to two goals. Millarville cut the margin to 9-9 on Augustin Zavaleta’s nearside with 3:18 remaining but Astrada pushed the advantage to two at 10-8 when he dribbled to goal with 1:27 left in the fifth chukker.

Nacho Novillo Astrada added two goals for Las Monjitas (1-0), which was playing without 9-goaler Eduardo Novillo Astrada, who is still recovering from cracked ribs and a bruised lung suffered in a fall almost three weeks ago. Donovan, his substitute, scored one goal and patron Camilo Bautista did not score.

Gonzalez finished with four goals for Old Pueblo (0-1) while Mannix added three goals and Zavaleta one. Daniel Roenisch did not score.

Heguy, in his first game of the season, provided the missing spark for Pony Express when his neck shot from 30 yards cross the goal line. Pony Express was playing without patron Bob Daniels, who is recovering from cracked ribs. He is expected to miss at least one more game.

There were five ties in the game, the last one at 10-10 on Alex Agote’s goal with 4:03 remaining.

Agote and Anja Daniels, substituting for her husband, Bob, added two goals apiece for Pony Express (1-0). Sapo Caset scored one goal for the winners.

Nine-goaler Matias Magrini and 17-year-old Facundo Pieres, an 8-goaler, led Old Pueblo (0-1) with four goals apiece while 8-goaler Jeff Hall scored two goals. Patron John Hall did not score.

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 U.S. Open tournament will feature a different presenting sponsor every Sunday, including Bombardier Aerospace, Cunard Ltd. and HUMMER.

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 $120 for tailgating spots 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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