Dracarys Wins Top Pony 12-Goal Title At Grand Champions; Leon Schwencke MVP

WELLINGTON, Fl., April 11, 2023--Dracarys Polo Team ended its first winter season at Grand Champions Polo Club Sunday on a winning note.

Top Pony 12 champion Dracarys teammates Brandon Phillips, Facundo Obregon, Leon Schwencke and Chetan Krishna.

By Sharon Robb
Photos by Candace Ferreira

Dracarys (Chetan Krishna, -1, Leon Schwencke, 3, Facundo Obregon, 6, Brandon Phillips, 4) rallied in the final two chukkers to defeat previously undefeated Novo Polo (Baljit Sierra, -1, Evan White Jr., 1, Santiago Llavallol, 5, Pedro Falabella, 6), 13-8, to win the Top Pony 12-Goal Tournament.

Evan White Jr. of Novo Polo and Brandon Phillips keep their eye on the mid-air ball.

Both teams finished 3-1. The victory avenged an early 11-9 league play loss. Dracarys is three-for-three in 12-goal tournaments. Dracarys also won the $50,000 National 12-goal and a 12-goal tournament in Port Mayaca. Dracarys also qualified for five finals in Careyes, Mexico, Port Mayaca and Wellington.

“I’m fortunate to have a good team,” Krishna said. “We got lucky. We have been hanging out a lot. It’s not just about winning, you have to enjoy who you are with. Off the field we have had such a great time the entire season whether it’s at the barn, someone’s house or a restaurant. They are a second family.”

Facundo Obregon of Dracarys works the near side ball.

Teenager Leon Schwencke, 17, earned his second Most Valuable Player award after scoring a team-high five goals. He was also MVP of the $50,000 National 12-Goal.

“He has been fabulous,” Krishna said. “The kid has a lot of heart and talent. I was so happy he got the MVP award. He’s still learning, he’s still a baby but he plays his heart out. Facu has been a great addition. He plays amazing, too.”

Evan White Jr. of Novo Polo attempts to hook Leon Schwencke.

Sapphire, a 10-year-old thoroughbred owned by Facundo Obregon, was Best Playing Pony.

After a 3-1 third chukker, Novo Polo led 5-4 at the half. Dracarys applied the pressure in the second half with its horsepower and hitting and running game plan. Dracarys outscored Novo Polo, 9-3, including a 2-0 shutout in the fifth chukker and 6-1 in the final two chukkers.

Brandon Phillips of Dracarys rides off Evan White Jr.

“We got a little lucky with the ball going our way,” Krishna said. “We were in control of the first half also but it was just mistakes and fouls. We just kept going. We said we have to win one chukker at a time.”

Krishna, who owns Meadow Brook Polo Club, one of the oldest clubs in the U.S., started riding two and a half years ago and playing polo two years ago. Mariano Aguerre and Phillips have been coaching him. Horton Schwartz also taught him when he first started. Krishna will resume playing 12 and 16-goal tournaments at his club in New York in June.

Santi Llavallol of Novo reaches out of the saddle for the ball.

“This has been the first season I am stepping it up a little bit,” Krishna said. “I had good teachers. I wish I had started earlier.”

In addition to Schwencke’s five goals, Obregon and Phillips each had four goals. Llavalol had a team-high five goals for Novo Polo. White and Falabella each had one goal. The team picked up one goal on handicap.

Patrons Baljit Sierra of Novo Polo and Chetan Krishna of Dracarys
and players celebrate with Marc Ganzi.

Dracarys led in most of the statistical categories: shots on goal, 18-15; knock-ins, 8-5; throw-ins, 13-12; and fouls, 12-6. Novo Polo scored off three 30-yard penalty conversions and Dracarys converted a 30- and 60-yarder.

Four teams competed in the fourth 12-goal winter tournament. The other two were new sponsor Philippines-based Globalport (Mikee Romero, 0, Vaughn Miller, 2, Anthony Gracia, 4, Mariano Obregon, 6), also playing in the 26-goal World Polo League, and Quite On Z (Alecia Seidler, -1, Joseph Schwartz, -1, Jason Crowder, 5, Sugar Erskine, 6).

Last year’s Top Pony 12-goal champion was Beverly Polo (Wil Ballhaus, -1, Hilario Figueras, 5, Keko Magrini, 3, Lucio Ocampo, 5) 10-8 winners over Quite On Z (Alecia Seidler, -1, Leon Schwencke, 3, Felipe Vercellino, 7, Jose Meirelles, 3).

Top Pony 12-Goal finalists Dracarys and Novo Polo.

In the 2023 season-opening 12 goal tournament, Wind Swept rallied in the final two chukkers to capture its first Limited Edition 12-Goal Series title. Wind Swept (Harrison Reicher, 0, Rufino Merlos, 1, Tincho Merlos, 7, Baldo Palomeque, 4) scored six unanswered goals in the second half and went on to win, 13-10, over Oriflamme (Jason Crowder, 5, Frankie Bilbao, 4, Benn Shepherd, 0, Jason Warren, 3). Tincho Merlos was MVP.

In the second 12-goal, Dundas won the 33rd annual Sieber Memorial for the third consecutive year. Dundas (Miki Novillo Astrada, 1, Mia Cambiaso 2, Roberto Zedda, 3, Geronimo Obregon, 5) broke open a close game in the second half to defeat Senvest Excalibor (Richard Mashaal, 0, Evan White Jr., 1, Santi Llavallol, 5, Pedro Falabella, 6), 13-6. Cambiaso was MVP.

Dracarys won the third 12-goal tournament, the $50,000 National 12-Goal with a 12-8 win over Rafool Polo (Ray Rafool, -1, Jack Whitman, 2, Henry Porter, 4, Felipe Viana, 6).

Marc Ganzi presents Leon Schwencke with the MVP Award.

Grand Champions, the nation’s largest polo club celebrating its 16th anniversary, and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique private 102-acre polo facility in Wellington with 212 stalls in nine self-contained barns, two tracks, five climate-controlled tack rooms, vet room, staff quarters, guest house and four polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation and short work arena. The club has nine world-class fields at GCPC and four at Santa Rita.

During the winter polo season, Grand Champions, the nation’s largest and most innovative USPA-sanctioned polo club, nestled in the heart of the world’s winter equestrian capital, hosts various tournaments: 6, 8, 12, 20, and 26-goal leagues, WCT Finals, Polo School Ladies Weekly League and 26-goal World Polo League tournaments at both Grand Champions and Santa Rita.

The winter season is being live-streamed locally and worldwide on Wellington-based ChukkerTV (CTV Sports).

Best Playing Pony Sapphire, played by Facundo Obregon.

Grand Champions Polo Club caters to men, women and youth polo players at all levels. Its’ expert staff can customize a complete playing experience including horses, pros and certified umpires in addition to lessons and practice sessions as part of its’ Polo On Demand program.

The Polo School, now located at the former Pony Express facility, operates in Wellington January through May and September through November. The stand-alone USPA-sanctioned polo club, is thriving. It is dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grass roots youth. Its mission is to provide individuals opportunities in polo at every economic and ability level. November. The Polo School has nurtured several junior, men and women polo players now playing in the pro and amateur ranks since its inception.

For more information on leagues or Polo School contact Director of Operations Juan Bollini at 561-346-1099 or General Manager Cale Newman at 561-876-2930.