a spectacular trio of matches tops off the busiest tournament ever.
The excitement was palpable today as the most glamorous and spectacular snow polo event in the world reached its climax. With 250 of the world’s press, polo aficionados and more than 25,500 spectators from both St. Moritz and across the globe all anticipating a true clash of the polo Titans as some of the best polo players in the world gathered to do battle on the frozen lake of St. Moritz. Reto Gaudenzi, Founder & CEO of the Snow Polo World Cup enthused,
we have had fantastic weather, great polo and we have sold every ticket available, the event this year is unbelievable!
He certainly is not wrong – this is an incredible event that needs to be experienced to be believed and needs to be on everybody’s ‘to do’ list.
Match 1: World Polo League beat Flexjet, 7-5½
The first match of the day saw Flexjet take on World Polo League for The Casablanca Trophy at 11am in a fast and flowing match. Flexjet’s Clemente Delfosse opened the scoring, but World Polo League quickly dominated the play for the first half. After half-time, Flexjet began to flex their muscles but were unable to catch mother and son Ganzi duo’s World Polo League, who ran out the winners 7-5½. Stephen Alexander, Chief Executive of Casablanca, presented the trophy to a delighted Melissa Ganzi.
Match 2: Clinique La Prairie beat The Kusnacht Practice, 3-2
The record-breaking crowds were in for a treat with the second match of the day between Clinique La Prairie and The Kusnacht Practice in the Subsidiary Final for The St. Moritz Trophy and Clinique La Prairie’s Matthias Normann wasted no time in opening the scoring. The Kusnacht Practice struggled to find their form in the first half, with fantastic defence from Clinique La Prairie hampering each attempt on goal. With evenly matched teams, the match was a fast-flowing, open and a thrilling match to watch and the 1-0 score at half-time did not reflect the efforts of both sides. The start of the third chukka saw Alejo Taranco equalise, but he was effectively marked out of the second half. Juan Guerrero took the lead to the delight of their supporters, which brought on frenzied efforts from Clinique La Prairie to equalise, which they managed with a strong penalty from Marc Ganzi which meant that with just 20 seconds left on the clock the match was pushed into a sudden death, golden goal over-time period. With all to play for in in this pivotal part of the match an expectant hush fell over the crowd and as commentator Jan-Erik Franck pointed out, “You could hear a snowflake drop, it’s so tense.” After a frenetic battle for possession, a penalty was given in favour of Clinique La Prairie which ‘The Cobra’ Ganzi effortlessly sent home to secure the second win for the Ganzi family today.
Final/Match 3: Azerbaijan Land of Fire beat St. Moritz, 6-5
So, it was time for the hotly anticipated finale to the three-day polo spectacular, as a skilled and on form St. Moritz team faced last year’s winners – the well-drilled Azerbaijan Land of Fire team, in front of capacity crowds. Sparkling sunshine, music pumping out courtesy of DJ Mr Mike and ‘on tap’ Perrier Jouët champagne meant the fur clad, uber glam spectators were in high spirits as the first ball was thrown in. The pressure was on for Azerbaijan Land of Fire to deliver the goods for the second year and they were on full power from the first throw in. Their line-up had also seen a tactical change of players to allow the Final to take place between teams of even handicaps. So the talented Tito Gaudenzi who plays off 2 goals and had played in the team’s two winning matches was replaced by Tarlan Gurbanaliyev for the Final.
Azerbaijan Land of Fire were determined to bag the Trophy for a second year running, whilst St. Moritz players Max Charlton and Nacho Gonzalez were both planning a sixth victory in the prestigious tournament. As expected from the first throw in, the action was fast-paced and passionate with fast, flowing attacking play matched with skilled, strong defence from both teams.
Azerbaijan Land of Fire played from the outset with their usual veuve and enthusiasm, which was equally matched by team St. Moritz with alacrity. With little dividing the teams, it was too close to call at half-time, with the scores at 3-2 to Azerbaijan Land of Fire. At the start of the fourth chukka, the scores were even and despite both teams playing off all cylinders, the result was still tied at five goals apiece at the end of the chukka. Play then went into extra time for only the second occasion in the last 15 years of the tournament’s history. Despite valiant efforts from team St. Moritz, Adrian Laplacette Jr of the Azerbaijan team converted a penalty in the golden goal period to claim the Trophy for the second year running.
The Snow Polo World Cup St. Moritz Trophy, sponsored by World Polo League was presented by Piero Dillier, President of the Board of Evviva Polo St. Moritz, to the delighted Azerbaijan Land of Fire team, who each received a “Tank Française” Cartier watch. Piero praised the winning team, “It was great to see Azerbaijan winning again, it was a very close match, congratulations to them and we hope to see them again next year.” The runners-up were each presented with a voucher for a ski outfit from Fusalp by Tamara Baraghin.
Spencer McCarthy won The Best Playing Patron Award, presented by Etienne Dalancon of Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi, winning a five-night stay at the exclusive resort. Spencer said:
it has been a fantastic long-weekend and we have really, really enjoyed ourselves. I must say congratulations to the winners and thank you to everybody who has come to support team St. Moritz, I am sorry we could not bring it home for you, but maybe next year?
The Most Valuable Player was awarded to Adrian Laplacette Jr, who received a pair of Cartier sunglasses, sponsored by The World Polo League and presented by Melissa Ganzi. Whilst the Polo Times and Evivva St. Moritz Best Playing Pony was awarded by Nick Hine to Max Charlton for Cicatriz, the gelding which played so brilliantly in the third chukka and which is owned by Spencer McCarthy; Max received a bespoke pony rug and 200 Swiss Francs for the grooms.
So, after three days of truly world-class polo, which saw nine matches played at the highest level on the frozen lake of St. Moritz the event drew to a close. It was time for the team of 180 people who are employed to make sure the event runs with classic Swiss efficiency to say a fond farewell. Until, of course next year – make sure you join us for next year’s 39th Snow Polo World Cup St. Moritz on 26, 27 and 28 January 2024… see you then!
Excellence Magazine was once again a media partner of the beautiful event!
The Snow Polo World Cup St. Moritz 2023 Teams:
Azerbaijan Land of Fire (14): Elcin Jamalli (2), Adrian Laplacette Jr. (6), Raul Laplacette Jr. (6), Tarlan Gurbanaliyev (0) & Tito Gaudenzi (2)
Flexjet (15): Daniel Deistler (0), Patrick Maleitzke (5), Clemente Delfosse (5) & Patrick Paillol (5)
World Polo League (16): Melissa Ganzi (0), Grant Ganzi (3), Alejandro Novillo Astrada (7) & Martin Jauregui (6)
St. Moritz (14): Spencer McCarthy (2), James McCarthy (2), Max Charlton (6) & Nacho Gonzalez (4)
Clinique La Prairie (16): Marc Ganzi (1), Matthias Normann (0), Nic Roldan (8), Fred Mannix (7)
The Kusnacht Practice (16): Eduardo Greghi (0), Nico San Roman (4), Alejo Taranco (9) & Juan Guerrero (3)
All of the matches can be viewed live over the internet at www.pololine.tv