Wellington, Fla. – April 3, 2018 – On a gorgeous day for polo, Grand Champions/CrossFit El Cid rallied for two goals in the final chukker to capture the Limited Edition 8-Goal Series title Sunday at Patagones. CrossFit El Cid (Gerardo Pantin, -1, Cecelia Cochran, 1, Jason Wates, 3, Carlitos Gracida, 4), tied 10-10 with Patagones (Joaquin Avendano, 1, Santi Avendano, 1, Benjamin Avendano, 2, Robi Bilbao, 4) going into the sixth chukker, knocked off the previously undefeated team for a thrilling 12-10 victory on its own field.
Gracida, son of legendary Hall of Famer Carlos Gracida, was named Most Valuable Player. Gracida scored a game-high eight goals including back-to-back goals to clinch the win. Wates added three goals. The team also received a goal on handicap.
Gracida broke the tie with 3:01 left in the game with a 30-yard penalty conversion for an 11-10 lead, the first time Grand Champions/CrossFit El Cid had the lead for the entire game. Gracida added an insurance goal at the 1:10 mark with an incredible back shot.
Grand Champions/CrossFit El Cid played well together. Cochran is one of the sport’s top women players and will compete in this week’s Sunny Hale’s Legacy WCT Final at Grand Champions. Wates is one of polo’s rising stars from Kingston, Jamaica and splits his time between Florida, Chicago and Colorado. Gracida is a fourth generation player. Pantin just started playing the game this season and played above his handicap in Sunday’s game.
No one was happier than Pantin, a minus-one player and product of The Polo School, a USPA-sanctioned club at Grand Champions Polo Club. The former show jumper and father of four who makes the 120-mile round trip from Aventura to play polo, wasn’t sure about playing in the tournament until Polo School Director Juan Bollini, a former 8-goaler and cancer survivor, convinced him.
“Juan got this idea and put the team together. He said I was ready to play eight goals. I looked at him and said, ‘Juan, are you sure?'” said the Venezuela-born Pantin with a smile. “Juan and Marc and Melissa Ganzi gave me the opportunity to play here. They are amazing people.
“This is my first season playing and my first tournament win,” Pantin said. “I am just beginning really. I used to ride horses and did show jumping for many years a long time ago when I was a kid. This is a dream for me to win my first tournament. I am really happy.”
Tramontana, a 6-year-old mare owned and played by Gracida, was the game’s Best Playing Pony. Serena, a 5-year-old mare, played by Santi Avendano, was the tournament’s Best Playing Pony.