WELLINGTON, FL., November 30, 2017—Grand Champions Polo Club announced its much-anticipated 2018 winter season schedule.
Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm are putting the finishing touches on the turnkey club’s eleven fields in anticipation of its biggest and best winter polo season.
The nation’s largest, busiest and most innovative USPA-sanctioned polo club nestled in the heart of the world’s winter polo capital kicks off its season in January with monthly 6, 8 and 12-goal tournaments and women's weekly league play.
During the winter season Grand Champions Polo Club hosts polo tournaments ranging from six to 26-goal in addition to special events. During the 2017 winter season the club attracted a record 72 teams. The club hopes to equal or top that success in 2018.
The winter season attracts a large international field of players from all corners of the world including India, Mexico, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, Ecuador, Nigeria, Uruguay, Chile, Nicaragua, England and U.S.
Highlights of the upcoming season are the Feb. 21-March 17 Sterling Cup, March 1-10 $50,000 National 12-Goal Single-Elimination Tournament, March 14-April 31 John T. Oxley 16-20 Goal Memorial, April 3-8 Women's Championship Tournament (WCT); and April 1-14 $100,000 World Cup Tournament
Thanks to the generosity of Palm Beach Polo owner Glenn Straub, the Sterling Cup and World Cup were resurrected last season by Marc and Melissa Ganzi in hopes of recapturing the legacy and prestige of polo’s hey days.
The Sterling Cup was once the second tournament of the 22-goal season at Palm Beach Polo and Country Club and attracted as many as sixteen teams. Travieso captured last season's Sterling Cup and used it as a springboard for its U.S. Open debut.
The most popular and well-received tournament was the inaugural $100,000 World Cup presented by Audi. The tournament is open to teams 0-to-26 goal on handicap and similar to the Copa Republica in Argentina where teams of any handicap from 0-to-40 can compete.
Adding to the excitement of the inaugural event was its storybook ending in front of a record crowd. The 21-goal underdog Palm Beach Illustrated team of Jared Zenni, Santi Torres, MVP Agustin Obregon and Tommy Collingwood won the 16-team tournament with a 13-7 victory over Valiente I to finish undefeated at 4-0.
The $50,000 National 12-Goal single-elimination was another popular tournament. GSA became the youngest team in the tournament's four-year history to win with Henry Porter, 17, Santino Magrini, 15, Juan Martin Zubia, 18, and Torito Ruiz, 18. GSA defeated Casablanca, 13-6, in its final appearance of the winter season.
GSA was the most dominant 12-goal team during the winter season losing only to Patagones in overtime in the January Limited Edition 12-Goal Series.
The first-of-its-kind monthly women's polo weekly league in the world was created by Alina Carta, one of the sport's pioneers and supported by USPA Florida Circuit Governor Melissa Ganzi. Women's polo is the fastest growing group in the sport.
The April 3-8 Women's Championship Tournament will be played in honor of the legendary Sunny Hale, creator of the WCT Series. The all-time greatest woman's polo player died at age 48 in February and will be inducted into the Polo Hall of Fame on Feb. 16, 2018.
Grand Champions will also host the March 11 Great Futures Celebrity Match and fundraiser for the Neil S. Hirsch Family Boys and Girls Club of Wellingtion with honorary co-chairs John Walsh and Nacho Figueras and chairpersons Marc and Melissa Ganzi, Olexa Celine and Ray Mooney. The game features some of the sports top players and patrons.
Games throughout the winter season will be played at both Grand Champions Polo Club and the 102.8-acre Santa Rita Polo Farm named after Melissa Ganzi's grandmother, who passed away on Dec. 29, 2012.
It 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.
Grand Champions is coming off its finest fall season in the club’s ten-year history. It was the only club in the nation to stage two USPA-sanctioned 20-goal fall tournaments in addition to the USPA International Cup and Carlos Gracida Legends of Polo Memorial. The club also 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 unique program.
The Polo School, a 501c3 organization and USPA-sanctioned club, 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
“This is great for polo,” club manager Juan Olivera said. “Marc and Melissa have put in a lot of time and effort to promote polo and create more tournaments. The idea is to give everyone an opportunity to play polo at every level."