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Far Niente Wins Rob Sieber Memorial Tournament

Far Niente Wins Rob Sieber Memorial Tournament 12-Goal Saturday Featured Game At Grand Champions; Michael Bellissimo Named MVP
Most Valuable Player Michael Bellissimo (1) of Far Niente drives downfield with Benji Daniels (1) of Pony Express defending. Photo by Scott Fisher


WELLINGTON, FL-Feb. 10, 2014---Playing with its full roster for only the second time this season, Far Niente defeated Pony Express, 10-8, Saturday in the Rob Sieber Memorial 12-Goal Tournament at Grand Champions Polo Club.

Far Niente (Michael Bellissimo, Tommy Collingwood, Michel Dorignac, Gene Goldstein), played with confidence throughout the game against Pony Express (Benji Daniels, Julian de Luzarreta, Tomas Goti, Bob Daniels).

Behind a total team effort, Far Niente broke a 4-4 tie in the third chukker, shutting out Pony Express, 3-0, to take a 7-4 halftime lead.

While Pony Express tried to rally, Far Niente never relinquished the lead in the second half extending its cushion to 8-4 in the fourth chukker.

Tommy Collingwood (3) of Far Niente defends Tomas Goti (3) of Pony Express. Photo by Scott Fisher

"It takes time, chemistry and confidence more than anything," said Collingwood. It was Collingwood's second game of the day.

Collingwood played in a noon 20-goal Ylvisaker Cup game with his Palm Beach Illustrated team that defeated El Cabure, 14-10, including three goals by Collingwood, and qualified for the quarterfinals.

"I am tired, that's for sure," Collingwood said with a smile.

"Michel and I are playing a lot better, he is real easy to play with," Collingwood said. "Michael is playing great and Gene is, too, and that made a difference.

Tommy Collingwood (3) of Far Niente tries to hook Julian de Luzarreta (2) of Pony Express as he backs the ball. Photo by Scott Fisher

"It was a smooth, fast game, a very classic, clean game where all the players were respectful. This is a great level to keep on playing. It was a lot of fun and a lot of running. The footing was amazing on the field."

Bellissimo, 18, was named the game's Most Valuable Player. He scored three goals and played well defensively. It is his second MVP honor he's earned this season at Grand Champions.

Most Valuable Player Michael Bellissimo of Far Niente. Photo by Scott Fisher

"I am very happy about the game," Bellissimo said. "My horses were going very well today. I am very happy with this team. I have only been able to play two games with them so far but we have won both of them.

"Today we did very well in the beginning," Bellissimo said. "We kind of let up but we brought it back together luckily at the end."

Far Niente winning teammates Tommy Collingwood, Gene Goldstein, Michael Bellissimo and Michel Dorignac. Photo by Scott Fisher

Dorignac led his team in scoring with four goals, Collingwood had two and Goldstein one goal.

"It's great fun to play with this team," Dorignac said. "The weather co-operated and the field was in fantastic shape. The other team was really good and a great organization.

"Our strategy was to stretch out the team and use everybody and it worked. Gene and Michael made the difference. They got their momentum at the end and we were lucky we ended up winning. We are feeling really good. This is the second time in a row we played with a full team and we won."

Michel Dorignac (4) of Far Niente avoids getting hooked by Julian de Luzarreta (2) of Pony Express. Photo by Scott Fisher

Added Goldstein: "Our team is perfect and fun to play with," Goldstein said. "Michel is easy to play with. Tommy I have known since he was 16 when we played in 8-goal together. It's nice to see him now playing as a pro."

For Pony Express, Goti scored a game-high seven goals. Benji Daniels, who just turned 14 on Feb. 3, played alongside his father, Bob.

"I thought the game was really fun," Daniels said. "It was great fun and I thought it was challenging. I like playing with the pro players and it's always a pleasure playing with my dad."

Award presenter Juan Bollini, Far Niente players Tommy Collingwood, Gene Goldstein, Michael Bellissimo, Michel Dorignac, award presenter Marge Sieber, Pony Express' Julian de Luzarreta, Tomas Goti, Bob Daniels and his son Benji Daniels. Photo by Scott Fisher

The tournament is named in honor of polo player Rob Sieber who died from a polo accident 29 years ago at Oak Brook, Ill. His mother Marge presented the awards during Saturday's post-game trophy presentation with the players.

In other Grand Champions at Palm Beach Polo:

Metropolitan Cup 5-Goal Handicap Final at Polo West: Grand Champions 5, Santa Clara 3: Julio Ezcurra led scoring with three goals and Robbi Bilbao added two to lead Grand Champions (Juanse Olivera, Santos Bollini, Julio Ezcurra, Robbi Bilbao) over Santa Clara (Lucas Escobar, Francisco Escobar, Niko Escobar, Luis Escobar).

Sieber Memorial 12-Goal: Catamount 11, Enigma 7: Hall of Famer Carlos Gracida had seven goals to lead Catamount (Wes Finlayson, Alejandro Gonzalez, Scott Devon, Carlos Gracida) over Enigma (Esther Kane, Tony Calle, Mariano Obregon, Carlucho Arellano).

Sieber Memorial 12-Goal: Hawk Hill 13, Skaneateles 12: Gringo Colombres scored the winning goal in the sixth chukker for Hawk Hill (Matt Coppola, Phillip MacTaggart, Gringo Colombres, Robbie Bilbao). Coppola led scoring with seven goals. Pelon Escapite had nine goals for Skaneateles (Marty Cregg,Pelon Escapite, Ulyses Escapite, Cesar Jimenez).

Sieber Memorial 12-Goal: Goose Creek 12, KIG 10: Cote Zeggers scored the go-ahead goal and Tano Vial added an insurance goal for Goose Creek (Maureen Brennan, Tano Vial, Cote Zeggers, Lucas Arellano). Brandon Phillips scored seven goals for KIG (Mateo Di Paolos, Brandon Phillips, Jeff Blake, Cody Offen).

USPA Cyril R. Harrison 8-Goal: Tonchala 15, Naimara/Custer Capital 11: Tavi Usandizaga led scoring with eight goals for Tonchala (Enrique Barco, Eduardo Barco, Pablo Pulido, Tavi Usandizaga).  Guille Usandizaga had a game-high 10 goals for Naimara (Neku Atawodi, Guille Usandizaga, Luis Ansola, Bill Custer).

USPA Cyril R. Harrison 8-Goal: Hawk Hill 12, TLC Development 5: Raul Colombres scored a game-high eight goals for Hawk Hill (Robbie Bilbao, Phillip MacTaggart, Mackenzie Weisz, Raul Colombres) against TLC Development (Glenn Straub, Danny Wasty, Nacho Acuna, Juan Olivera).

Halo Polo Trophy 5-Goal Polo: Patagones Blanco 9, Ganaraska 8: Gonzalo Avendano scored the winning goal for Patagones Blanco (Benjamin Avendano, Jaoquin Avendano, Gonzalo Avendano, Fernando Asenjo) and finished with four goals.

For game recaps, news, features and photos of Grand Champions Polo Club-related events, go to www.grandchampionspoloclub.org.

Pony Express teammates Tomas Goti (3) and Julian de Luzarreta (2) go for the ball against the boards with Tommy Collingwood (3) of Far Niente defending. Photo by Scott Fisher

2014 HIGH GOAL SEASON

JANUARY 30-FEBRUARY 23: Ylvisaker Cup-Wednesday, Audi vs. Los Machitos/Heathcote, 3 p.m.; Thursday, Flight Options vs. Lechuza Caracas, 1 p.m.; Feb 16, Quarterfinals; Feb. 19, Semifinals; Feb. 23, George Haas Cup Final, noon; Ylvisaker Cup Finals.

FEBRUARY 14: National Museum of Polo & Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

FEBRUARY 15: Outback 40-Goal Challenge, 3 p.m.

FEBRUARY 16-MARCH 2: C.V. Whitney Cup

FEBRUARY 22-MARCH 8: Iglehart Cup

MARCH 5-23: USPA Piaget Gold Cup

MARCH 26-APRIL 20: 110th Maserati U.S. Open Polo Championships

Tommy Collingwood (3) of Far Niente goes for the big hit downfield with backup from teammates Michael Bellissimo (1) and Tomas Goti (3) of Pony Express defending. Photo by Scott Fisher

GRAND CHAMPIONS @ PALM BEACH POLO 2014 TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE (HOTLINE 561-373-0073)

FEBRUARY: Halo Polo Trophy (5 Goals); USPA Cyril R. Harrison Trophy; USPA Sieber Memorial Trophy; Friday Night Under The Lights Arena Polo at Polo West.

MARCH: Madelon Bourdieu Memorial (5 goals); The Limited Edition 8-Goal Series; USPA Regional President's Cup (8 goals); $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament; The Top Pony 12-Goal Series; Santa Rita Abierto (16 goals); Friday Night Under The Lights Arena Polo at Polo West.

APRIL: Las Acacias (5 goals); USPA Association Cup (8 goals); Museum of Polo & Hall of Fame Challenge Cup (12-goals); John T. Oxley Memorial Trophy (16 goals); Friday Night Under The Lights Arena Polo at Polo West.

Julian de Luzarreta (2) of Pony Express maintains possession while his horse looks to be flying with all fours in the air. Photo by Scott Fisher

THIS WEEK'S GCPB POLO SCHEDULE

Monday: Grand Champions at Pony Express 5-Goal, 4 p.m.

Tuesday: Goose Creek vs. Casablanca 12-Goal, 10:30 a.m.; La Casa Hermosa at Santa Clara, 4 p.m.

Wednesday: TLC Development vs. Naimara/Custer, 8-Goal.

Thursday: La Casa Hermosa vs. Top Gun 5-Goal, 2 p.m.; Grand Champions at Santa Clara, 4 p.m.

Friday: Tuffriders vs. Hawk Hill, 8-Goal

Saturday: Aliano Realty at Patagones Blanco 5-Goal, 10 a.m.

Sunday: Aliano Realty at Patagones Azul 5-Goal, 10 a.m.; La Casa Hermosa at Pony Express, noon; Tonchala vs. TLC Development, 8-Goal.

Grand Champions Polo Club's Sieber Memorial Cup table for the Saturday Feature Game. Photo by Scott Fisher