WELLINGTON, FL--November 16, 2017---The second and final 20-goal tournament of the fall season gets under way Friday at Grand Champions Polo Club.
The USPA National 20-Goal Tournament, that dates back to 2007, features six teams including the Brazilian Polo Federation team led by Flavio Castilho.
Team Brazil, tuning up for its Nov. 25th showdown with five-time defending champion Team USA in the International Cup, will be joined by Audi, Casablanca, Flexjet, Newport and Santa Clara in one of the most competitive fields of the season.
Among top players competing are 8-goalers Julio Arellano and Alejandro Novillo Astrada, making his fall debut at Grand Champions; and 6-goalers Mike Azzaro, coming off a win at the Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships with the Aspen Valley Polo Club this past weekend; Sugar Erskine, Jason Crowder, Kris Kampsen and Guille Aguero. Seven countries are represented by players.
Two games are scheduled for Friday with Brazil opening up against Santa Clara at 10 a.m. and Audi playing Newport at 3 p.m. The winners advance into Sundaysemifinals against Casablanca and Flexjet which received opening round byes. The championship final is Tuesday at 3 p.m.
Casablanca won the first 20-goal fall tournament at Grand Champions. The foursome of Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Mike Azzaro and Julio Arellano captured the USPA North American Cup with a hardfought 11-9 victory over Audi (Guille Aguero, Brandon Phillips, Marc Ganzi, Carlucho Arellano). Azzaro was MVP.
The USPA National 20-Goal rosters are:
Audi (19): Marc Ganzi, 2, Carlucho Arellano, 5, Kris Kampsen, 6, Guille Aguero, 6.
Brazil (19): Gustavo Toledo, 5, Guilherme Lins, 5, Flavio Castilho, 5, Luis Figueira de Mello, 4.
Casablanca (16): Mike Azzaro, 6, Jeff Blake, 5, Grant Ganzi, 2, Juancito Bollini, 3.
Flexjet (19): Melissa Ganzi, Juan Bollini, 5, Jason Crowder, 6, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 8.
Newport (16): Gene Goldstein, 1, Lucas Arellano, 1, Julio Arellano, 8, Sugar Erskine, 6.
Santa Clara (17): Mariano Gracida, 4, Luis Escobar, 5, Wes Finlayson, 4, Carlitos Gracida, 4.
Last year's USPA National 20-Goal winner was Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, Jason Crowder, Nic Roldan, Jared Sheldon), 11-8 winners over Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Julio Arellano, JJ Celis). Flexjet rallied in the final two chukkers outscoring Casablanca, 6-1. Sheldon, one of the original members of Team USPA, was MVP. Rebecca, a 10-year-old Chestnut mare ridden by Melissa Ganzi and owned by Santa Rita Polo Farm, was Best Playing Pony.
The first National 20-Goal tournament was held in 2007 at the now-defunct Royal Palm Polo Sports Club in Boca Raton. Houston-based BTA (Chrys Beal, Francisco Lanusse, Mariano Gonzalez, Santiago Trotz) won the inaugural event.
After a four-year hiatus, the next six tournaments were hosted by Grand Champions. The winners were: 2011, KIG (Bash Kazi, Hector Galindo, Jeff Blake, Tommy Biddle) defeated Piaget, 12-8; 2012, Audi (Marc Ganzi, Carlitos Gracida, Nic Roldan, Carlos Gracida) defeated Piaget, 10-9; 2013, Audi (Marc Ganzi, Carlitos Gracida, Nic Roldan, Carlos Gracida) defeated ELG, 13-7; 2014, Flight Options (Melissa Ganzi, Kris Kampsen, Nic Roldan, Juan Bollini) defeated Team USPA, 14-11; and 2015, Audi (Marc Ganzi, Sugar Erskine, Jeff Blake, Carlucho Arellano) defeated Flexjet, 11-8.
Rated No. 1 by Consumer Reports as the best auto brand overall, Audi is a valued sponsor with a rich winning tradition in polo. The German automobile manufacturer designs, engineers, produces, markets and distributes luxury automobiles throughout the world including West Palm Beach.
Casablanca, founded by polo players who understand the needs of today's polo players, supplies a wide variety of polo products, equipment and apparel through superior quality, value and service around the world. Behind the Casablanca brand is a serious pledge to quality, excellence and elegance.
Flexjet 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.
Five of Grand Champions' six medium goal fall tournaments have already been successfully held. The fifth tournament, the Pedro Morrison Memorial final was postponed because of wet fields and will be rescheduled.
The first five medium goal tournament winners are: Audi, which defeated Casablanca, 11-10, in overtime to win the Tackeria Invitational; Casablanca bounced back with wins in the US Trust Cup and USPA Fall Classic; Sebucan knocked off Casablanca to win the USPA Fall Plates and Dutta Corp won the Polo Gear Challenge Cup.
The highlight of the fall season is the Nov. 25 doubleheader with the Carlos Gracida Memorial Legends of Polo and International Cup pitting five-time defending champion Team USA against Brazil. Sponsorship packages are available and tickets are on sale.
During the fall season, roster lineups change from tournament to tournament with evenly-matched teams to help improve players skills and performance. The games also give players an opportunity to work young horses and get into shape for the winter season.
During fall, winter and spring seasons, Grand Champions Polo Club, the nation's largest club with 11 well-manicured fields, hosts polo tournaments ranging from six to 26-goal in addition to special events.
Grand Champions Polo Cup attracted a record 72 teams during its 2017 winter season that featured the $100,000 World Cup, $50,000 National 12-Goal, 20-Goal Sterling Cup and 20-Goal Molina Cup, and another 18 teams during the spring season.
The entire fall season is being live-streamed on Wellington-based ChukkerTV, leaders in polo broadcasting with cutting-edge technology. ChukkerTV also features team challenges and instant replay which made their debut at Grand Champions in January, 2014.
Grand Champions Polo Club 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 unique program.