WELLINGTON – In one of the biggest upsets of the World Polo League season, Pampa Norte Biotricity knocked off defending champion Richard Mille to win the Triple Crown of Polo Saturday at the Grand Champions Polo Club.
Pampa Norte Biotricity (Waqaas Al-Siddiq, Inaki Laprida, Felipe “Pipe” Vercellino, Martin Jauregui), making its 26-goal debut finals, defeated Richard Mille (Santos Bollini, Grant Ganzi, Pablo MacDonough, Juan Martin Nero) 14-13 in the WPL season finale.
Vercellino, 27, of Chile, competing in only his second Wellington season, was named Most Valuable Player. Vercellino led scoring with four goals, three on penalty conversions including two 60-yarders. Nero scored a game-high eight goals for Richard Mille.
Pampa Norte Biotricity was the tournament underdog because of its 20-goal rating. Other teams in the field were rated 25- or 26-goal. Richard Mille, a 25-goal rated team, had to spot Pampa Norte Biotricity a 5-0 lead before the game started.
“They say it’s like one in a thousand games we have our chance,” Al-Siddiq said. “We happened to have an unbelievable day. The unbelievable field at the Grand Champions helped. Today was our day. It’s a dream, it’s amazing. That’s the beautiful thing about polo, on any given day anyone can win.”
Despite playing against two 10-goalers (MacDonough and Nero), an emotionally charged Pampa Norte Biotricity led 6-2 and 8-3 in the first two chukkers. Richard Mille bounced back by scoring four unanswered goals in the third chukker to trail 8-7 at half.
While the teams battled to a 6-6 second half, Pampa Norte Biotricity never trailed in the final three chukkers, 11-8, 13-10 and 14-13. With Pampa Norte Biotricity leading 14-12 after Vercellino converted a 40-yard penalty, Nero scored on a neck shot with 1:48 left, but Richard Mille could not mount another offensive threat against Pampa Norte Biotricity’s defense.
“We just had to play each play, chukker by chukker, and really focus playing our own game and not getting sucked into a bad play or bad foul,” Al-Siddiq said. “We wanted to keep our head in the game. Finals are very special games. We just had to play our game.”
Matsu, played by Nero, was selected American Polo Horse Association Best Playing Pony. Irenita Subaru, played and owned by MacDonough, was Argentine Best Playing Pony; and Open New Zealand, played and owned by Laprida, was WPL Best Playing Pony.
The World Polo League, now in its fourth year, is the only 26-goal polo played outside of Argentina.
The remaining WPL tournament of the season is the April 29-May 1 WPL Beach Polo World Cup in Miami Beach featuring eight teams from 10 countries.