|WELLINGTON, Fla., February 8, 2019---Grand Champions Polo Club, the nation's busiest and most innovative polo club, kicks off February league play and plays host to its first major tournament of the season this weekend.
By Sharon Robb
Colorado will make its first appearance in the Sterling Cup on Saturday at 3 p.m. when it takes on defending champion Valiente on Field One at Grand Champions.
Colorado (Rob Jornayvaz, 2, Santi Torres, 6, Diego Cavanagh, 9, Nick Johnson, 3) qualified for its first final in the prestigious tournament with an impressive 13-10 victory over Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, 3, Tony Calle, 3, Juan Martin Nero, 10, Juancito Bollini, 4).
Colorado will now try and beat Valiente (Kian Hall/Bautista Panelo, 3, Robertito Zedda, 4, Poroto Cambiaso 3, Adolfo Cambiaso, 10) which will be no easy feat with the father-son combination and strong supporting cast.
Valiente advanced into the final with a 9-4 victory over Audi on Tuesday. Both teams are undefeated at 2-0. Valiente has scored 23 goals and Colorado has scored 21 goals.
After successful league season openers in January, February league play kicks in Saturday with Halo Polo Trophy 6-goal and Top Pony 8-goal play with 8-goal between Beverly Equestrian and WPL at noon and 6-goal between Mayer Ranch and Satcom at 4 p.m. The 12-goal Sieber Memorial Tournament begins Sunday with Beverly Equestrian against Sebucan at 10:30 a.m.
Six teams will compete in the 12-Goal Sieber Memorial Tournament. They are:
Altair: Ashley Busch, 0, Santino Magrini, 4, Carlitos Gracida, 4, Brandon Phillips, 4.
Beverly Equestrian: Bill Ballhaus, 0, Geronimo Obregon, 4, Tolito Ocampo, 5, Hilario Figueras, 3.
Palm Beach Equine: Poroto Cambiaso, 3, Segundo Merlos, 2, Gringo Colombres, 7, Scott Swerdlin, 0.
Patagones: Santiago Avendano, 1, Joaquin Avendano, 2, Benjamin Avendano, 3, Santi Wulff, 5.
Sebucan: Pablo Pulido, 2, Juanse Olivera, 1, Robertito Zedda, 4, Juan Bollini, 5.
Skaneteles: Marty Cregg, 0, Cesar Jimenez, 1, Costi Caset, 5, Mariano Obregon, 6.
The tournament is named in honor of polo player Rob Sieber, who died in a polo-related accident 33 years ago at Oak Brook, Ill.
In the battle of unbeaten teams, Patagones (Joaquin Avendano, 1, Robi Bilbao, 4, Benjamin Avendano, 2, Santi Wulff, 5) held off Beverly Equestrian (Bill Ballhaus, 0, Hilario Figueras, 2, Tolito Ocampo, 4, Carlucho Arellano, 5) for a thrilling 11-10 victory in last year's final. Wulff scored a game-high seven goals and was named Most Valuable Player.
Six teams will also compete in the Top Pony 8-Goal:
Beverly Equestrian: Bill Ballhaus, 0, Santos Merlos, 0, Tolito Ocampo, 5, Hilario Figueras, 3.
Dutta Corp: Nico Diaz Albderi, 1, Timmy Dutta, 2, Lucas Diaz Alberdi, 5, Tim Dutta, 0.
Horseware: Tom Maguines, 0, Juanse Olivera, 1, Segundo Merlos, 2, Hugo Lloret, 5.
Patagones: Omar Mangalji, 0, Joaquin Avendano, 2, Santi Wulff, 5, Santiago/Gonzalo Avendano, 1.
Smithfield: Craig Callen, 0, Robi Bilbao, 4, Julio Ezcurra, 3, John Klopp, 0.
WPL: Gussie Busch, 1, Nico Harriot, 1, Santos Bollini, 1, Juan Bollini, 5.
Eight teams will compete in the Halo Polo Trophy 6-Goal. They are:
Aspen Valley Polo Club: Fran Spinacci, -1, Santino Zedda, 0, Poroto Cambiaso, 3, Robertito Zedda, 4.
Bank Mills/AmistaL Hope Arellano, 1, Lucas Arellano, 2, Agustin Arellano, 3, TBA.
Core View/Ymas: Sam Farahnak, 0, Nico Escobar, 3, Pipe Miguens, 3, Jacobo Bacariza, 0
Dragonfly: Andy Hertneky, 0, Juan Ghirlanda, 2, Alfredo Guerreno, 2, Trevor Steele, 2.
Equuleus: Enrique Boch, 0, Hugo Tagliaferro, 0.5, Martin Pepa, 4, Joe DiMenna, 0.
Mayer Ranch: Landen Daniels, 0.5, Clark Mayer, 0.5, Justin Daniels, 2, Brendon Stenzel, 2.
Satcom Polo Team: Rebekah Greenhill, 1, Jose Mourino, 3, John Gobin, 4, David Greenhill, 1.
WPL: Nico Harriott, 1, Gussie Busch, 1, Santos Bollini, 1, TBA.
The Sterling Cup is the club's first major tournament of the season. In last year's Sterling Cup Adolfo, Mia and Poroto Cambiaso made history by winning their first ever high goal tournament together. Along with teammate Magoo Laprida, Valiente knocked off pre-tournament favorite Audi (Marc Ganzi, Henry Porter, Nic Roldan, Nico Pieres), 10-4, in the final. Mia Cambiaso was MVP.
The Sterling Cup is one of two prestigious tournaments that the nation's busiest and most innovative polo club resurrected two years ago after a 22-year absence. It was brought back by Grand Champions owners Melissa and Marc Ganzi in hopes of recapturing polo's glory days. It was the second tournament of the 22-goal season at Palm Beach Polo after the January Challenge Cup and last played in 1995. It was considered the 22-goal championship and attracted as many as eighteen teams.
In addition to the strong field of players, the tournament is showcasing some of the best horses in the sport. Three awards will be presented: Best Playing Pony for the final game, Best Playing Pony for the tournament and the coveted American Polo Horse Association best registered horse of the game.
The APHA was created in 2006 by the legendary Polo Hall of Famer Sunny Hale to recognize polo ponies in America and encourages events that showcase them and hard-working dedication of grooms.
During the winter polo season, Grand Champions, the nation's largest and innovative USPA-sanctioned polo club, is hosting 24 tournaments: 6, 8, 12, 20, and 0 to 40 goals, WCT Finals and women's weekly league play and 26-goal World Polo League tournaments at both Grand Champions, Valiente Polo Farm and other fields.
Grand Champions tournaments attract a large international field of players from all corners of the world including India, Mexico, New Zealand, Chile, Costa Rica, Argentina, Canada, Ecuador, Brazil, Switzerland, France, Germany, Uruguay, Azerbaijan, South Africa, Nigeria, Venezuela, Australia and England.
Season highlights for 2019 are the Sterling Cup, March 1-31 $50,000 National 12-GoalTournament, March 1-16 John T. Oxley Memorial and March 3-24 $100,000 World Cup Tournament, a unique 0-40-goal, winner-take-all single-elimination tournament.
Grand Champions and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique polo facility in Wellington with 120 stalls in five self-contained barns, exercise track, five climate-controlled tack rooms, vet room, staff quarters, guest house and three polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation including one field for stick-and-ball with plans to build more polo fields in the future.
Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm caters to men, women and youth polo players at all levels and ages. 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, created by Grand Champions President Melissa Ganzi when the club first opened.
The Polo School, a 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. Scholarships are available. The Polo School operates in Wellington January through June and September through November. Headed by Director of Operations Juan Bollini, The Polo School has nurtured several men and women polo players now playing in the pro and amateur ranks since its inception.