17th Bendura Bank Snow Polo World Cup Kitzbühel 2019 - Cîroc crowned champions!

20th January 2019


It was all excitement in the heart of Reith bei Kitzbühel as the teams and

thousands strong throng of spectators prepared for the final day of world

class play in the 17th Bendura Bank Snow Polo World Cup.

Following a star-studded Players’ Night Gala on Saturday night, the sun once

again shone true on the pristine polo field as host team Bendura Bank came up

against the all-German Maserati team in the first match of the day. From the first

‘get-go’, Bendura Bank came firing out of the starting blocks, with a superb 15

yard penalty from Captain Melissa Ganzi. As the only female player in the

tournament, Ganzi has proven herself to be more than a worthy adversary for

her male opponents, scoring every one of the 15 yard penalties asked of her on

Saturday and Sunday. Maserati couldn’t find their footing in the first chukka,

succumbing to a 4-1. lead to their rivals by the bell. By half-time, Argentine

Alejandro Novillo Astrada secured a further three goals, to only two in response

from Thomas Winter and Caspar Crasemann, ensuring Bendura Bank led 7-3.

by the break. Despite lengthy team talks during the interlude, Maserati were just

no match for Bendura Bank’s 8 goal powerhouse. Coming into the fourth and

final chukka, Bendura Bank had a seemingly insurmountable 10-3. lead, but

with Maserati praying to the polo gods for a miracle, Winter and Crasemann

found the posts twice in the final minutes of the fourth chukka. But, as the match

came to a close, event organizer and snow polo favorite Tito Gaudenzi drew on

the dotted line for Bendura Bank with their final goal, to secure fifth place with a

lucky 13-6. final score.

The second match for The Kitzbühel Country Club Cup Subsidiary Final saw

Corum take on Bernd Gruber. Patron Eckhardt Juls was replaced due to injury by

the 19-year-old Enno Grans (0). The yellow shirts of Corum hit the first chukka

hard with Patrick Maleitzke scoring a flamboyant hat trick of goals in as many

minutes. The Corum path to victory looked certain under his stewardship – but,

Grant Ganzi and his Bernd Gruber clan, of Brazilian Eduardo Greghi and 7 goal

machine, Frenchman Pierre-Henri Ngoumou, had other ideas. Strong defence

and solid teamwork saw them equalise in the second chukka. From then on it

was goal for goal as each team evenly matched the fight. But eventually reverting

to the form of the first chukka Corum’s dominance prevailed with the final score

resting at 6 goals to 7 at the end of the last chukka.

The third and final match of the day was the reason we were all here – the 17th

Bendura Bank Snow Polo World Cup Final. It was set to be an exciting

extravaganza of international polo prowess, as six players from four countries

took to the arena to a collective roar from the crowd. Sebastian Schneberger was

in search of his third title, to equal the record breaking three Snow Polo World

Cup wins currently held by Brit Jonny Good, and coincidentally 20th January was

also the day of St. Sebastian, so perhaps divine intervention would play a key

role. Engel & Völkers, four-time finalists and only one-time winners, were

looking to be the crowd’s favorite, but as the first ball was thrown-in, Aki Van

Andel came flying out of the m.l.e with the ball seemingly glued to his stick. His

7 goal team mate Valentin Novillo Astrada wasn’t far behind him, in his usual

form. Despite their initial fervour, Engel & Völkers were the first on the

scoreboard with a fantastic field goal from Captain Kutlay Yaprak. Following a

brief horse change, Novillo Astrada found his rhythm, scoring the first of his

many goals. The game was full of tension and high spirits, as players went into

ride-offs with extreme energy. By half-time, 2019’s newest team, C.roc, were 4-2

ahead, to the dismay of the assembled ‘Red Devils’ fans. Adrian Laplacette Jr,

usually the one to watch for the boys in red, was consistently shut out of plays by

Van Andel, who was later named Most Valuable Player, using his pony’s strength

to ensure Novillo Astrada always had a clean run on the ball. By the end of the

third chukka, C.roc continued to hold the lead 6-3, with Engel & Völkers hoping

for a polo miracle to bless them in the final six minutes. As if having found

renewed energy, Novillo Astrada scored three goals in as many minutes to open

the chukka to only one in response from Laplacette Jr. With 9-4 on the

scoreboard, Agustin Kronhaus tried desperately to bring his team back into the

game, but the clock was not in his favor. As the bell tolled at the end of the 17th

Bendura Bank Snow Polo World Cup 2019, C.roc rode off the field to elated cries

of congratulations from the crowd and the coveted trophy in their hands.

C.roc Captain Sebastian Schnerberger said after the Final, “This was a great event

and I’m so happy we’ve walked away with the title. It was a tough match, but we

rallied together and did what we came here to do.”

Event Organizer, Tito Gaudenzi continued, “What an exciting weekend this has

been. Our team may have not made it to the Final, but this year’s tournament has

been the best yet, with record crowds and fantastic players. I can’t wait for next

year’s edition and we hope to welcome everyone back for the 18th Bendura Bank

Snow Polo World Cup. But for now, off to St. Moritz!”

Tito Gauenzi