SAN DIEGO, Calif., September 1, 2016---For the first time in beach polo history, a major beach polo tournament will be held on the west coast at the iconic Hotel del Coronado.
This weekend’s inaugural Polo America Beach Polo Cup will feature several top players including Argentine 9-goaler Agustin (Tincho) Merlos, Julio Novillo Astrada and Carlitos Gracida, son of legendary Hall of Famer Carlos Gracida.
Coronado has a long history with polo dating back to the early 1900s when John D. Spreckels first introduced polo to Coronado in 1909 with the Spreckels Cup Polo Challenge that is now played at San Diego Polo Club.
The legendary Hotel del Coronado, the second largest wooden structure in the United States, has 128 years of history.
“This took me about fourteen months to put together,” said event organizer Randy Russell of the marketing firm Polo America. “Next to the Ford Trucks FIP Global Cup in Boca Raton we put on in 2005 with two 40-goal teams, this is probably the biggest polo event we have done. The visibility of this is totally different than what people are used to. We have gone over the top.”
The massive 10,000 square foot VIP tent consists of three terraces. The first terrace features 15 lounges with white leather couches and chairs where food and cocktails from the Hotel del Coronado will be served. The second terrace is formal dining and third terrace is the Polo Village where the event’s prestigious sponsor booths will be set up.
The playing surface will also be special, Russell said.
“You look at photos of normal beach polo and you see the horses trudging through the sand with the sand flying up and the horses are dead tired going through the heavy sand,” Russell said.
“We took 18 inches off the top sand of the playing surface and took it down to the wet pack of the ocean for a firmer base for the horses. We took all that top sand and put it on an elevation and it’s like an amphitheater now.”
Four teams will compete in the unique medium-goal tournament.
With the breathtaking Pacific Ocean as a perfect backdrop, two polo games will be held each day at 12:30 p.m. and 2:10 p.m. along with several other activities.
The teams and player rosters are:
Aspen Valley Polo Club: Grant Ganzi, 1, Juancito Bollini, 3, Agustin (Tincho) Merlos, 9.
Flexjet: Melissa Ganzi, 0, Lucas Lalor, 6, Julio Novillo Astrada, 7.
Hoffman International Properties: Riley Ganzi, 0, Juan Bollini, 7 Carlitos Gracida, 5.
Porsche San Diego: Bash Kazi, 1, Tito Gaudenzi, 3, Jason Crowder, 7.
Crowder is coming off winning the recent Gulfstream Pacific Coast Open at Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club as a member of Restoration Hardware.
Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini and Lucas Lalor of Aspen Valley Polo Club won the recent USPA National Arena Chairman’s Cup in Aspen.
The field also features two polo families. Melissa Ganzi, Florida Circuit Governor and her children Grant, 18, and Riley, 16, and father and son Juan and Juancito Bollini.
The mix of top players, medium goal players and padrons will raise the level of play, Russell said.
“It is a perfect fit,” Russell said. “We were looking at goal ratings and we wanted to get a good combination. There is a good group coming out. The spectators will enjoy the quality of play and players will have a blast on the field.”
Russell and Ganzi worked together in Aiken, S.C. where she set a record for the longest game and most chukkers (30) played. The 2010 Polo America Dawn to Dusk Challenge benefitted Wounded Warriors at Fort Gordon.
“That was such a kick, everyone was a little sore the next day,” Russell said. “It’s always fun to have Melissa involved. She is great for polo and she does so much for the sport. It’s great having her out here.”
The event will be taped by NBC Sports for broadcast on Dec. 10 at 3 p.m. increasing worldwide exposure for the sport.
“With NBC you are talking 85 million people are going to see beach people,” Russell said. “Viewers will not just see a normal beach polo game. We have the iconic backdrop of the Hotel del Coronado. The visual of the VIP tent up and down the beach is incredible. You have never seen anything like this before. It’s basically a one-hour commercial for Coronado and polo.”
The tournament will benefit Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, ranked among the nation’s Top 10 pediatric hospitals and region’s only designated pediatric trauma center. Former pediatric hospital patients dressed in mini-versions of team jerseys will serve as honorary captains of each team.
Sponsors are U.S. Polo Assn., Aspen Valley Polo Club, Polo America, Hotel del Coronado, Ermenegildo Zegna, Grayse, Porsche of San Diego, Coronado Tourism Improvement District,Hoffman International Properties, Joseph Goott & Co., Modern Luxury and Silver Seas Yachts.
Team sponsor Flexjet, a valued sponsor, has been a member of the Directional Aviation family of companies since 2013. They are committed to creating premium travel experiences and providing access to the most modern, technologically-advanced aircraft in the industry on a daily basis, going above and beyond world-class private travel experiences.
ASPEN VALLEY POLO CLUB
CLUB ADDRESS: 3275 County Road 100, Carbondale, Colo. 81623
POLO HOTLINE: 970-710-1663
The exclusive Aspen Valley Polo Club is one of the nation’s fastest-growing polo clubs. It offers polo in the summer for players and spectators. The Polo School is available to adults and juniors. It offers individual and group lessons for all levels and ages. For spectators there are great field side views for tournament action, indoor and outdoor arenas and also the Aspen Valley Polo Club Boutique. Everyone is welcome to watch polo in a relaxed atmosphere with complimentary food and refreshments. Admission and parking are free. For Polo On Demand price rates of group and private lessons, arena chukkers, grass chukkers and individualized “Polo Experience” packages email firstname.lastname@example.org or log onto www.aspenvalleypoloclub.com.
GRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUB
WHERE: 13444 Southfields Road, on the corner of South Shore Boulevard and Lake Worth Road, Wellington, 33414.
2016 FALL SCHEDULE: Sept. 27-Oct. 2, Tackeria Invitational; Oct. 4-9, US Trust Cup; Oct. 11-16, USPA Fall Classic; Oct. 11-29, USPA North American Cup; Oct. 18-23, USPA Eastern Challenge; Oct. 25-30, Pedro Morrison Memorial; Nov. 1-6, USPA Fall Plates; Nov. 8-13, Polo Gear Challenge; Nov. 12-20, USPA National 20-Goal; Nov. 26, Carlos Gracida Memorial Legends of Polo and International Cup.
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.