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Bendabout, Catamount Advance To Sunday's Final Of OF C.V. Whitney Cup At International Polo Club Palm Beach

WELLINGTON, Florida – In a game featuring four 10-goalers, Bendabout scored four consecutive goals in the final two chukkers, two apiece by patron Gillian Johnston and Miguel Novillo Astrada, to break open a close game en route to an 11-7 victory over Lechuza Wednesday in the semifinals of the 26th annual C.V. Whitney Cup 26-goal polo tournament Sunday at International Polo Club Palm Beach.

In Wednesday’s first semifinal, Catamount scored the first four goals and coasted to a 10-6 victory over Everglades.

The 26-goal C.V. Whitney final is slated for Sunday at 3 p.m. at the International Polo Club Palm Beach stadium field.

The championship contest is a rematch of the season’s first high-goal tournament, the 22-goal Joe Barry Memorial final, which Catamount won 13-10. Bendabout also reached the title game of the season’s last 22-goal tournament, the Hall of Fame Cup, losing 11-9 to ERG.

Bendabout is led by 10-goalers Miguel Novillo Astrada and Adam Snow. Lechuza features 10-goalers Pite and Sebastian Merlos. They are the only teams in the 13-team tournament with a pair of 10-goalers.

Leading 7-6, Johnston converted a 1-yard penalty with 1:01 left in the fifth chukker and scored on the ensuing possession to give Bendabout a 9-6 heading into the final chukker.

Bendabout missed several scoring opportunities early in the sixth chukker before clinching the victory on Astrada’s goals. The Argentine 10-goaler made it 10-6 on a 50-yard forehand with 3:18 remaining and tapped in a loose ball with 2:02 left to make it 11-6.

Lechuza’s Sebastian Merlos scored on a tap-in with 47 seconds left to round out the scoring.

Snow and Astrada finished with four goals each while Johnston scored two goals and Alejandro Novillo Astrada scored one goal for Bendabout.

Sebastian Merlos led Lechuza with four goals while his older brother, Pite, added two goals. Patron Victor Vargas and Gaston Urturi did not score for Lechuza, which received one goal by handicap at the start of the game.

Nine-goaler Carlos Gracida scored six goals, all in the first half, as Catamount took an 8-2 halftime lead. Patron Scott Devon finished with two goals while 10-goaler Mike Azzaro and Pelon Escapite added one goal each for Catamount.

Patron Skeeter Johnston and Tomas Llorente scored two goals each for Everglades while Owen Rinehart and Lucas Monteverde added one goal apiece.

Everglades sliced the margin to 9-6 on Llorente’s near-side shot with 4:32 remaining in the game. That was the closest Everglades was since it trailed 5-2 30 seconds into the third chukker.

Thirteen teams entered the tournament, which is a prelude to the Stanford Financial Group – 100th U.S. Open Polo Championship, the most prestigious polo tournament in North America. The C.V. Whitney Cup final is slated for Sunday, March 21 at 3 p.m. at the International Polo Club Palm Beach stadium.

The tournament is named in memory of Cornelius Vanderbilt “Sonny” Whitney, who along with his brother John Hay Whitney, were important polo patrons in the 1930's. The son of Hall of Fame patron Harry Payne Whitney, C.V. won the U.S. Open three times (twice against his brother), and was a renowned owner and breeder of thoroughbred racehorses.

The polo matches are open to the public. Tickets for the Sunday games at the International Polo Club Palm Beach are available at the gate, beginning at $10 each. For information or advance tickets, call (561) 204-5687 or visit the club website at

International Polo Club Palm Beach is located at 3667 120th Avenue South in Wellington. From I-95, take the Forest Hill Boulevard exit and go west approximately 12 miles. Turn left onto South Shore Boulevard and go two miles. Turn left onto Pierson Road, travel about one mile and then make a right onto 120th Avenue South. The club is on the right. From Florida’s Turnpike, take Exit 93 (Lake Worth Road) and go west about six miles. Make a right onto 120th Avenue South. The club is on the left.


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