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Bendabout, White Birch Post Wins To Remain Undefeated In Stanford Financial Group - 1ooth U.S. Open Polo Championship At International Polo Club Palm Beach

WELLINGTON, Florida – Ten-goaler Miguel Novillo Astrada scored five consecutive goals in second half to rally Bendabout over Orchard Hill 13-8 and into sole possession of first place in Division III in the first round of the Stanford Financial Group – 100th U.S. Open Polo Championship Tuesday at International Polo Club Palm Beach.

In other first-round games, 3-goaler Del Walton scored six goals as White Birch dominated Isla Carroll 14-9 and Lechuza snapped Catamount’s seven-game winning streak with a 9-6 victory behind 10-goaler Sebastian Merlos’ five goals.

Astrada started the winning rally by scoring on a breakaway with 3:25 left in the fourth chukker to snap a 6-6 tie.

In the fifth chukker, Astrada scored four goals, three on penalty shots, in a 4:04 span to increase the margin to 11-6 and virtually clinch the victory.

Orchard Hill scored to cut the margin to four goals twice in the sixth chukker, the last time with 2:32 left but 10-goaler Adam Snow responded with a nice goal with 1:41 remaining to stop any thoughts of a comeback victory.

“This (win) put us in a very good position to get into the quarterfinals,” said Astrada.

Bendabout (2-0) must play White Birch and Catamount, both tough opponents, in its remaining first-round matches.

“The quarterfinals are a distinct possibility,” said Snow. “This was a big game. We used our best horses in the second chukker in case we needed them again.”

Snow finished with five goals while patron Gillian Johnston scored two goals. Alejandro Novillo Astrada did not score.

Eight-goaler Julio Arellano led Orchard Hill (0-2) with five goals while 10-goaler Eduardo Heguy added two goals and 7-goaler Nicolas Roldan scored one goal. Patron Steve Van Andel did not score.

White Birch’s victory improved its record to 2-0 and into sole possession of first place in Division II.

Walton set the tone in the first chukker when he scored the first goal 50 seconds into the game and two minutes later stole the ball from 9-goaler Memo Gracida and scored on a 10-yard forehand to give White Birch a 2-0 lead it never relinquished.

Isla Carroll crept to within one, 5-4, with 1:50 left in the first half on Gracida’s breakaway, but never got closer than four goals the rest of the game.

Ten-goaler Mariano Aguerre added five goals and 9-goaler Lucas Criado scored three goals for White Birch. Carlucho Arellano, filling in for patron Peter Brant, who missed the game because of business commitments out of town, did not score.

Eight-goaler Pancho Bensadon led Isla Carroll (1-1) with five goals while Gracida added three goals and 8-goaler Sugar Erskine scored one goal. Patron John Goodman did not score.

Lechuza was forced to change its lineup because of a leg injury to 10-goaler Pite Merlos. Lechuza added 7-goalers Juan Martin Nero and Guille Aguero along with regulars 10-goaler Sebastian Merlos and patron Victor Vargas.

Merlos suffered the pulled muscle injury late in the fifth chukker of the opening game against White Birch on March 25 and said it is doubtful he will play Sunday at 3 p.m. against San Saba.

Lechuza (1-1) jumped out to a 3-0 lead and was never really threatened by Catamount. Newcomers Nero and Aguero scored two goals apiece while Vargas did not score.

Nine-goaler Carlos Gracida led Catamount (1-1) with four goals while 10-goaler Mike Azzaro and patron Scott Devon added one goal each. Pelon Escapite did not score.

High-goal polo action in the Stanford Financial Group – U.S. Open Polo Championship continues Thursday with a doubleheader beginning at noon when Millarville (0-2) plays Texas Polo (0-1), followed by Las Monjitas (2-0) vs. Old Pueblo (0-1) at 3 p.m.

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 $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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