WELLINGTON, FL--November 9, 2017---The ninth annual Polo Gear Challenge Cup, one of the club's oldest tournaments, begins Friday at Grand Champions Polo Club.
Polo Gear co-founder Gary Fellers, who played polo for nearly forty years from zero to 26-goal, is pleased with the success of the long-running tournament at Grand Champions.
"We have had the Polo Gear Challenge Cup since the beginning," Fellers said. "We have been involved with Grand Champions for a long time. We are proud to be part of it in any way we can."
The two-day medium goal tournament features four teams including Dutta Corp, making its fall debut.
Dutta Corp, the highest rated team at 15 goals, opens play on Friday in the opening game against Santa Clara, featuring father and son Luis and Lucas Escobar at 10:30 a.m.
At 15, Lucas Escobar was awarded the Matthew Cohen Most Valuable Player award after leading Florida Circuit's Zone 3 All-Stars to the National Youth Tournament Series (NYTS) to its fourth national title in five years. Escobar was joined by his older brother Nico, Mackie Weisz and Justin Daniels.
In the second Friday game at 4 p.m., Casablanca and Sebucan will play. Sebucan knocked off Casablanca in the final of the USPA Fall Plates and is the pre-tournament favorite. Pulido was MVP.
The winners advance into the championship final on Sunday at noon. The "Just For The Thrill Of It" subsidiary final is 10 a.m.
The Polo Gear Challenge Cup rosters are:
CASABLANCA (13): Santos Bollini, 0, Grant Ganzi, 2, Jesse Bray, 5, Jason Crowder, 6.
DUTTA CORP (15): Tim Dutta, 0, Kris Kampsen, 6, Carlitos Gracida, 4, Carlucho Arellano, 5.
SANTA CLARA (12): Lucas Escobar, .5, Lucas Arellano, 1, Jeff Blake, 6, Luis Escobar, 5.
SEBUCAN (13): Benjamin Avendano, 1, Pablo Pulido, 2, Guille Aguero, 5, Pablo Dorignac, 5.
Last year's Polo Gear Challenge Cup winner was Audi (Nic Roldan, Juancito Bollini, Marc Ganzi, Grant Ganzi), 5-3 winners over Travieso (Kris Kampsen, Tony Calle, Jesse Bray, Gene Goldstein). Marc Ganzi was named Most Valuable Player after scoring four goals, including three on penalty-fours. Former racetrack horse Frank's Chicken Coop, owned and ridden by Kampsen, was Best Playing Pony.
Polo Gear, one of the sport's top sponsors and supporters of polo established in 1993 and incorporated in Florida, manufactures, distributes and sells polo products to players, teams and polo events worldwide. For more information on Polo Gear and to order products, visit www.pologearusa.com.
The impressive lineup of pro players competing during Grand Champions' fall season is headed by legendary American Hall of Famer and former 10-goaler Mike Azzaro. Azzaro, winner of eight U.S. Open titles and rated at 10 goals for 13 years, was Most Valuable Player for Casablanca in both the US Trust Cup and USPA Fall Classic.
This weekend, along with Grand Champions' Marc and Melissa Ganzi, and Juan and Juancito Bollini, Azzaro will compete for the coveted Molina Cup in the seventh annual Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships at WestWorld of Scottsdale. Last year's event attracted a record crowd of 11,000, the largest crowd to witness a polo event in North America. The event also set records for food and beverage sales and sponsorships.
Four of the Grand Champions' six 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 four medium goal tournament winners were: 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; and Sebucan knocked off Casablanca to win the USPA Fall Plates.
Casablanca won the first of two 20-goal fall tournaments hosted at Grand Champions. The foursome of Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Mike Azzaro and Julio Arellano won 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 will be held Sunday, Nov. 19 with two semifinal games at 10 and noon, and Tuesday, Nov 21 with the final at 4 p.m.
The highlight of the fall season is the Nov. 25 doubleheader with the Carlos Gracida Memorial Legends of Polo and International Cup pitting 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.