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Las Monjitas Continues Winning Ways In Opening Round Of Stanford Financial Group - 100th U.S. Open Polo Championship At International Polo Club Palm Beach

WELLINGTON, Florida – Eight-goaler Silvestre Donovan scored four goals, all in the first half, as Las Monjitas built a 7-3 lead and coasted to an 8-6 victory over Texas Polo in the first round of the Stanford Financial Group – 100th U.S. Open Polo Championship at Sunday International Polo Club Palm Beach.

In other first-round action, 10-goaler Bautista Heguy and 17-year-old Sapo Caset scored five goals each to lead Pony Express over Millarville 12-11.

The victory keeps Las Monjitas (2-0) tied for first place in Division I with Pony Express.

“It looked easy in the beginning, but in the end we made it complicated,” said Las Monjitas’ 10-goaler Javier Novillo Astrada, who scored three goals. “We slowed the game down and it was better for them. I never thought we were going to lose the game.”

Las Monjitas led 8-3 after four chukkers before Texas Polo began a comeback. Pepe Heguy and Milo Araujo scored consecutive goals within a 53-second span to cut the margin to 8-5. However, Araujo missed a 60-yard penalty shot with 2:21 left in the fifth and missed a 40-yard penalty shot with 4:51 left in the sixth chukker. On the ensuing possession, Gaston Laulhe missed a 20-yard forehand for Texas Polo.

Donovan, who was selected as the game’s MVP, has been playing in place of 9-goaler Eduardo Novillo Astrada, who is still recovering from cracked ribs and a bruised lung suffered in a fall on March 8. Although he is practicing, it is unsure if he will play in either of the remaining two first-round games.

“We are very happy with (Donovan),” said Javier Novillo Astrada. “He is playing well and he gets along with Eduardo’s horses. I hope Eduardo will play in the third or fourth game, but it is important to qualify for the quarterfinals.”

Nacho Novillo Astrada added one goal and patron Camilo Bautista did not score for Las Monjitas.

Nine-goaler Milo Araujo led Texas Polo (0-1) with four goals and 9-goaler Pepe Heguy added two goals. Patron Michael Price and Gaston Laulhe did not score.

The win keeps Pony Express (2-0) tied for first place in Division I with Las Monjitas, who play each other in the final game of the first round on April 8 at 3 p.m.

Pony Express scored three consecutive goals in a 90-second span in the third chukker to snap a 4-4 tie and never relinquished the lead.

Millarville (0-2) battled back with three unanswered goals in the fifth chukker, all on penalty shots, to close the margin to 9-8. Heguy converted a 60-yard penalty shot 23 seconds into the sixth chukker to give Pony Express a 10-8 lead. But Augustin Zavaleta stole the ball and dribbled in for a 20-yard forehand to slice to margin to 10-9 with 5:28 left in the game.

Eight-goaler Alex Agote smashed a 100-yard neck shot with 4:37 remaining to give Pony Express an 11-9 lead. Agote then made a key defensive stop on 7-goaler Frederick Mannix before Caset made a nice play in the corner, stealing the ball and dribbling along the endline to make it 12-9 with 2:08 left.

Eight-goaler Mariano Gonzalez converted a 60-yard penalty with 1:34 left and Daniel Roenisch scored on a 10-yard forehand in traffic with 29 seconds remaining but time ran out on Millarville.

Anja Daniels, substituting for her injured husband Bob, the Pony Express patron, added one goal. Bob Daniels suffered broken ribs three weeks but is expected to play in the next game.

Mannix led Millarville with five goals while Gonzalez scored three goals and Zavaleta and Roenisch added one each.

High-goal polo action continues Monday at 10 a.m. when San Saba (0-1) plays Everglades (0-1).

Thirteen teams, featuring nine 10-goalers, have entered the Stanford Financial Group – U.S. Open Polo Championship, the most prestigious polo tournament in North America, highlighting the historic inaugural polo season at the International Polo Club Palm Beach. The 26-goal tournament culminates with the championship match on Sunday, April 18 at 3 p.m. Fifteen teams, in 2002, is the record for teams in a U.S. Open.

The Stanford Financial Group – U.S. Open will be played on the International Polo Club Palm Beach’s five world-class Bermuda-grass playing fields and teams will also take advantage of the many private fields in Wellington.

The Houston-based Stanford Financial Group, a privately-held global network of affiliated companies, has signed on as the title sponsor of the 100th U.S. Open Polo Championship in 2004. Stanford’s family of companies provides international private banking, trust and brokerage services and real estate development. Currently, the Stanford organization manages in excess of $17 billion in deposits and assets, serving clients on six continents. The success of the group is the result of entrepreneurial spirit and drive spearheaded by third generation Chairman and CEO R. Allen Stanford.

Like the high-goal teams on the field, the International Polo Club Palm Beach has amassed a lineup of prestigious sponsors for the U.S. Open. The U.S. Open tournament will feature a different presenting sponsor every Sunday, including Bombardier Aerospace, Cunard Ltd. and HUMMER.

As always, there will be a delicious Sunday brunch, catered by The Breakers, open to the public preceding the featured stadium match, along with the now traditional and very popular champagne divot stomp and an post-match awards presentation.

Individual tickets for the U.S. Open tournament Sunday games range from $15 for general admission to $120 for tailgating spots and are available in advance. For ticket information for the U.S. Open, please call the club at (561) 204-5687 or visit online at Tickets are also available at the gate.

International Polo Club Palm Beach is located at 3667 120th Avenue South, between Pierson Road and Lake Worth Road, in Wellington.


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