15th April 2018 | Wellington, Florida
Defending champions Palm Beach Illustrated won the coveted $100,000 World Cup presented by Audi at the grand Champions Polo Club on Saturday.
They faced Grand Champions in the finals in front of a packed house and defeated them in the final minute of regulation time. The game was tied at 9-9 with just a minute left on the clock, when Carlitos Gracida, son of legendary Hall of Famer Carlos Gracida, scored the winning goal to earn his side the championship title.
The 20-goal rated team Palm Beach Illustrated started the match with a four goal lead over 24-goal rated Grand Champions and stayed in the lead up until the sixth chukker when the trailing team finally managed to level the score. "At 9-9 they started slowing down the game a lot," Collingwood said. "Nobody got crazy. We were going back to the throw-in and Carlitos turns around and screams at me, 'let's go, we got this.' He won the throw-in, started taking it, had a crazy bounce, he saw the goal and hit an amazing neck shot down the middle of the goal. That just sealed the deal for us."
The game was competitive from the very first chukker as Palm beach Illustrated man marked very closely while adding goals to their tally. They led by 4 goals to 1 at the end of the first and increased their lead in the second chukker to 7-2. The third chukker belonged to Grand Champions as they outscored them 3-1 to trail by 8 goals to 5 at halftime.
The fourth chukker was a defensive battle as both teams failed to score. The fifth chukker saw both teams score one each to make the score 9-6 in favour Palm Beach Illustrated. Grand
Champions finally made their comeback in the final chukker as they levelled the score at 9-9 only to have their hearts broken by gracida in the dying seconds. Tommy Collingwood was named the MVP while Mica, played by Nero in the sixth chukker, was the club's Best Playing Pony of the game. Orangina, played by Novillo Astrada and owned by Santa Rita Polo Farm, was the club's Best Playing Pony of the tournament.
"We made this team in less than a week, a week before the entries were due," Collingwood said. "(Palm Beach Illustrated Publisher) Terry Duffy came up and said we can put the team in, get some friends, play and call these guys up right away. They said yes, let's do it. We just focused and said let's go and win it."