WELLINGTON, FL-May 5, 2016---The polo community, including Marc and Melissa Ganzi of Grand Champions Polo Club, was out in force on a rain-soaked Wednesday to support Prince Harry and his Sentebale charity.
Sentebale, which means "forget me not," is a non-profit charity organization founded by Prince Harry and Prince Seeiso of the African nation Lesotho in 2006, in memory of their mothers.
The charity helps vulnerable children, the forgotten victims of poverty and Lesotho's HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Melissa Ganzi, a longtime player involved in every facet of the game including USPA Florida Circuit Governor, was a member of the winning Sentebale ISPS Handa team along with Prince Harry, Malcolm Borwick and Bob Jornayvaz. Her husband Marc, played for runner-up Royal Salute.
In the third and deciding game of the round robin tournament pitting Prince Harry against longtime friend Nacho Figueras, the Sentebale ISPS Handa team won, 2-1, with a last-minute goal from Prince Harry and finished with six points to clinch the Cup.
Defending champion Royal Salute, headed by Figueras, the Sentebale ambassador, along with Teo Calle, Joe DiMenna and Ganzi, was runner-up with three points.
In front of 300 guests at the exclusive invitation-only event at Valiente Polo Farm, Prince Harry was presented the winning trophy by Royal Salute guest of honor His Grace Torquhil Campbell, the 13th Duke of Argyll.
The Sentebale ISPS Handa team also defeated Valiente (Tommy Kato, Marty Cregg, Nic Roldan, Curtis Pilot). Valiente lost to Royal Salute.
"Polo is a powerful vehicle to promote wonderful charity organizations like Sentebale," Melissa Ganzi said. "The tireless work Prince Harry is doing for Sentebale is nothing short of amazing."
Added Figueras, "Harry is so committed to this charity that he never fails to inspire me. He truly cares."
The Ganzis are longtime supporters with the Royal Family. The philanthropists have played polo with Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry in various polo events all for good causes. Marc Ganzi, one of the world's top amateur players, teamed with Prince Harry in May 2013, in the Sentebale Royal Salute Polo Cup at Greenwich (Conn.) Polo Club.
When the Prince arrived at Valiente, he held up his hands and joked, "Welcome to the Sunshine State."
Figueras joked before the game, "Harry and I have been texting about who's going to win for days. The weather is not perfect today so whoever is better in the rain. It's probably him, he's English, he's used to it."
It was the seventh time the event has been held and only second time in the U.S. In past years, it has been staged in Brazil, South Africa and Barbados.
For the past six years, Royal Salute has been the title sponsor. ISPS Handa, Valiente Polo Farm, American Airlines, USPA and Merchant Hub sponsored this year's event.
During his visit, Prince Harry announced that the work of his Sentebale charity will expand to a new country, Botswana.
During a passionate speech at the post-game dinner, Prince Harry told guests he wanted to "give as much back" as he could to the country he has visited regularly for almost two decades.
His goal is to provide 1 million hours of support to children and young people living with HIV and AIDS across the region by 2020. It is a significant increase of the 250,000 youngsters helped in 2006.
"That's an ambitious goal, but as I've already mentioned, the scale of the challenge demands bold action," Prince Harry said.
Prince Harry gives a poignant speech about the cause at the Sentebale Royal Salute Polo Club post-game dinner.
The polo event and dinner held in the spectacular stables of Valiente Polo Farm were expected to raise $1 million for his Africa-based charity.
Prince Harry is now headed to Orlando where he is promoting the Invictus Games which start on Sunday and run through May 12 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista.
The Invictus Games are an international Paralympic-style multi-sport event created by Prince Harry in which wounded, injured or sick armed service personnel and veterans compete. More than 500 athletes from 15 countries will take part in 10 sports.
The popular prince will talk with CBS' Norah O'Donnell on Friday. A portion of the interview airs 6:30 p.m. on Friday's CBS Evening News and remainder on Monday's CBS This Morning. He will also appear with First Lady Michelle Obama on Monday's Good Morning America on ABC.
In addition to Marc and Melissa Ganzi, President of Grand Champions Polo Club, Roldan, Calle and Borwick frequently play at the club. Figueras competes in the annual Great Futures Celebrity Polo Match in March at Grand Champions and St. Regis World Snow Polo Championship in December at Aspen Polo Club, owned by the Ganzis.
Marc Ganzi defends Prince Harry while Melissa Ganzi follows her royal teammate.
Grand Champions Polo Club is currently hosting its spring season where amateur polo players have the opportunity to play with and against some of the world's top professional polo players in a "fun atmosphere." Aspen Valley Polo Club is preparing for its summer season that gets under way June 29-July 3 with the Independence Cup.
ChukkerTV, leaders in polo broadcasting, is live streaming Grand Champions and Aspen Valley Polo Club games along with other games around the U.S. during the 2016 season with polo broadcasters Toby Wayman and Dale Schwetz calling the action.
Grand Champions Polo Club is the nation's busiest and most innovative polo club. The USPA-member club hosts polo tournaments ranging from six to 20-goal in addition to special events.
The club also features The Polo School, 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 2016 SPRING SCHEDULE
May 6, Friday, Sun Cup: Newport vs. Dutta Corp (White), 1 p.m.; Flexjet vs. The Dutta Corp (Blue), 4:30 p.m.
May 8, Sunday, Sun Cup, games begin 9:30 a.m.
May 13-15: USPA Eastern Challenge
May 20-22: Polo Gear Challenge Cup; May 22, Wellington Chamber of Commerce Kick-Off To Summer with award-winning guest chef Shannon Atkins.
May 21: NYTS Tournament
May 26-29: The Memorial
GRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUB
WHERE: 13444 Southfields Road, on the corner of South Shore Boulevard and Lake Worth Road, Wellington, 33414.
DIRECTOR OF POLO: Juan Olivera, 561-644-5050, firstname.lastname@example.org; hotline 561-373-0073.
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.