TORONTO—November 10, 2016—In front of a sellout crowd of 10,000 at the Ricoh Coliseum, USA defeated Canada, 10-9, in the Royal Polo match Wednesday night at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.
The inaugural indoor arena game featured top players ages 21-and-under.
The match took place before the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup show jumping event featuring Olympic gold medalist Nick Skelton, Kent Farrington, McLain Ward, Jessica Springsteen and other elite riders.
The U.S. polo team of Grant Ganzi, 18, Tony Calle, 21, and Wes Finlayson, 21, dominated most of the game against Canada’s CJ Sifton, Michner Ward and Kingsley Ward, members of the University of Western Ontario polo team.
The U.S. team was coached by Nic Roldan, America’s top-ranked player at 8 goals. The Canadians were coached by Scott Weir, Canadian Polo Association Director of Training. Toronto Polo Club was host club for the match.
Before the game, the U.S. team had only 20 seconds to warm up on each of the horses provided, according to Canadian polo player Cody Offen, co-founder of the Offen Polo School.
Ganzi scored a team-high five goals including what turned out to be the game-winner. Calle had three and Finlayson added two.
Canada jumped out to a 1-0 lead early in the opening chukker but USA came back to lead 3-2 at the end of the chukker.
The U.S. pulled away for a 7-4 lead after two chukkers. Canada tried to mount a late rally but ran out of time in the third and final chukker.
All three Americans were making their international debut for the U.S.
“For me it was special to represent the U.S., all the guys were pumped,” Ganzi said. “I was a little nervous. It wasn’t at home, it was in Toronto where I had never been before.
“Representing your country while playing with friends is something I will remember for the rest of my life. Winning for the U.S. is huge.”
The game was streamed live on the scoreboard during the game.
“The venue was amazing,” Ganzi said. “It was the biggest crowd I have ever played in front of by far. The play was great under the lights like SundayNight Football.
“The atmosphere was great for polo. The fans loved it. They wanted to meet and take pictures of the players after the game. It was good for polo.”
Canadian Dave Offen, who has represented Canada in several games as a player and coach, was impressed with the level of play.
“They put on an excellent game, it was great for the crowd,” Offen said. “The American boys appeared very well-organized. They played great as a team.
“Wes hit a million back shots. Grant and Tony did a great job of forcing Canada to hit back shots instead of getting the balls turned. Wes would get the ball and turned defense into offense quickly and got Grant the ball.”
It was the first time in more than 20 years, a polo match was held in the Coliseum.
Ricoh Coliseum, built in 1921, is an arena at Exhibition Place used for agricultural displays, ice hockey and trade shows. It serves as the home arena for the Toronto Marlies ice hockey team, the American Hockey League farm team of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, called the Royal, is an annual fall fair which takes place over two weeks in November. It attracts 320,000 visitors and features over 6,000 animals including more than 900 horses and ponies. The Royal Horse Show is the gala event of the fair. It remains an important exhibit for livestock breeders.
Finlayson, Calle and Ganzi compete and train at Grand Champions Polo Club.
Grand Champions is the only club in the nation to stage USPA-sanctioned 20-goal tournaments during the fall. At the conclusion of this weekend’s medium goal action in the Polo Gear Challenge Cup, the club is hosting the USPA National 20-Goal and USPA North American Cup later this month along with the Nov. 26 Carlos Gracida Memorial Legends of Polo and fifth annual International Cup featuring Team USA against Uruguay.
Grand Champions, with eleven well-manicured fields, is one of the busiest and most innovative clubs in the nation and is enjoying its finest fall season in the ten-year history of the club.
The club has now hosted eight successful medium goal tournaments.
Grand Champions caters to men, women and youth polo players at all levels. 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, the only polo club in the U.S. to offer the uniqueprogram.
The Polo School, a 501c3 organization, is dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grass roots youth. Its mission is to provide individuals opportunities in polo. The Polo School operates in Wellington January through June and September through November.
GRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUB
WHERE: 13444 Southfields Road, on the corner of South Shore Boulevard and Lake Worth Road, Wellington, 33414.
2016 FALL SCHEDULE
Polo Gear Challenge, Friday, 1 p.m., Newport vs. Palm Beach Polo, Field 3; 3 p.m., Audi vs. Dutta Corp, Field 1; Sunday, 9:30 a.m., Championship, Field 2; 11:30 a.m., Grooms Race, Subsidiary, Field 1.
Nov. 18-20, USPA National 20-Goal
Nov. 21-23, USPA North American Cup
Nov. 26, Carlos Gracida Memorial Legends of Polo and fifth annual International Cup, Team USA vs. Uruguay.
INFORMATION: For spectators, there are great field side views for tournament action and also the Grand Champions Polo Club Boutique. The club is home base for pro teams Audi and Flexjet. Everyone is welcome to watch every level of polo in a relaxed atmosphere that includes a complimentary Argentine asado by Cilantro’s during the featured games of the winter, spring and fall tournament seasons and other special events. Admission is free except for some special events.