WELLINGTON, FL—May 15, 2017----On a perfect day for polo, Audi led from start-to-finish to capture the Spring Challenge Cup on Mother’s Day Sunday at Grand Champions Polo Club.
Playing together for the first time in the two-day tournament, the foursome of Marc Ganzi, Guille Aguero, Lucas Lalor and Pablo Dorignac defeated Newport (Gene Goldstein, Rich Desich, Julio Arellano, Juancito Bollini), 10-8, to win its first tournament of the spring season.
“I can’t remember the last time I won a tournament, it’s been a while,” Aguero said smiling. “This is a good team and these guys are good players. This is the first time we played together but these guys know what to do it so it’s automatic.
“Newport played very well,” said Aguero, who will finish out at the spring season at Grand Champions before heading to Mashomack Polo Club for the summer. “It was a good game and a fun game for everybody. I enjoyed the winning.”
Newport’s Rich Desich, playing above his handicap and one of this year’s most improved players during the winter and spring seasons, was named Most Valuable Player. Last weekend Desich, playing for Audi, was named MVP in the USPA Sun Cup subsidiary game.
Desich is an Ohio State alum (1994-1998) based in the Cleveland/Akron Ohio area. He started playing polo at Culver Military Academy (1991-1994). After a long layoff from the game, Desich returned to the sport, honing his skills at The Polo School at Grand Champions with the help of head instructor Juan Bollini and his son Juancito.
“I took a long break from polo,” Desich said. “The love for the horses brought me back. I wanted to come back to it. Grand Champions, Juan Bollini and Juancito and everyone involved there gets all the credit. I am very excited about playing again and so happy and grateful to Grand Champions. What Marc and Melissa are doing here is so amazing.”
Desich was thrilled with MVP honors. It was the first time he played with Arellano, one of the top players in the U.S., Bollini and Goldstein.
“It’s absolutely amazing,” Desich said. “My teammates were great. They were very welcoming and teaching me about the game. After playing on Friday we got a little bit of a rhythm going today. Audi was a tough team with amazing chemistry.”
Marc Ganzi’s second-chukker horse, Granma, an 8-year-old mare, was selected Best Playing Pony.
While Newport struggled with its offensive attack early in the game, Audi led 1-0, 3-2 and 5-2 after three chukkers. Arellano brought Newport within one goal, 5-4, with 4:25 left in the fourth chukker, but goals by Aguero and Ganzi extended Audi’s lead to 7-4 after four chukkers. Newport could get no closer than two goals the remainder of the game.
For the second game in a row, Ganzi was leading scorer with a game-high four goals. Against Dutta Corp on Friday, Ganzi had five goals. Aguero had three goals, Dorignac scored two and Lalor added one goal.
Newport was led by Arellano’s three goals. Desich and Goldstein each had two goals and Bollini added one.
In the subsidiary game, Dutta Corp (Carlitos Gracida, Timmy Dutta, Piki Diaz Alberdi, Tim Dutta) defeated Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, Jason Crowder, Grant Ganzi, Mariano Uranga), 8-5. It was a special Mother’s Day for Melissa Ganzi playing with her teenage son Grant. It was also Uranga’s debut at Grand Champions.
Argentine Piki Diaz Alberdi, a former 10-goaler in Great Britain, was selected Most Valuable Player in the subsidiary game.
Gracida scored a game-high four goals. Timmy Dutta and Alberdi each scored two goals. Grant Ganzi scored a team-high three goals, all on penalty conversions, and Uranga added two goals.
Grand Champions Polo Club pulled out all stops for the championship final making Mother’s Day special for fans and friends.
Award-winning chef Shannon Atkins provided a tasty array of finger foods including parmesan meatballs, pineapple-infused pork sliders, beef ravioli, tomato mozzarella balsamic kebobs and fruit and vegetable platters and was served along with cocktails and refreshments.
The icing on the cake was a breathtaking three-tier Mother’s Day polo-themed cake designed by Shelly Nuss of Cakes and Cakes featuring a sculptured polo cup, horse portraits, polo players and ornate flowers.
The Spring Challenge Cup was the fourth of six medium-goal tournaments offered in April and May as the GCPC Spring Invitational League. The final two tournaments are the May 19-21 Polo Gear Invitational and May 26-29 The Memorial.
Winners of the first three tournaments were Dutta Corp (Carlitos Gracida, Timmy Dutta, Piki Diaz Alberdi, Tim Dutta) in the Santa Rita Abierto Open; Clearwater (Chip Campbell, Michael Bickford, Ezequiel Fernandez, Jeff Hall) in the USPA Eastern Challenge and Dutta Corp (Tim Dutta, Timmy Dutta, Piki Diaz Alberdi, Carlitos Gracida) in the USPA Sun Cup. Dutta Corp has also won two subsidiary titles.
During the Grand Champions’ spring season, amateur polo players get the chance to play with and against some of the world’s top professional polo players. It is geared towards improving polo skills and having fun.
“We are focusing on the game and concentrating on giving everyone an opportunity to play polo and improve their game,” said Polo School Director and former 8-goaler Juan Bollini. “Marc and Melissa (Ganzi) have opened Grand Champions to anybody in polo. We have great tournaments here. We are really trying to make polo better in America. We want to show the world we can have the best polo for everyone.”
The spring league is also a great opportunity for young players to develop and hone their skills against their peers and more experienced players.
The GCPC spring league features: medium goal practice games at least once a week; stick-and-ball sessions available during the week; two medium goal tournament games for teams every weekend; ambulance and USPA umpires for all tournament games; complete turn-key tournament polo with some of the top professionals in the world; playing polo on some of Wellington’s most prestigious and well-manicured fields; club-sponsored social events every weekend for all players and excellent trophies for all teams every weekend.
Grand Champions hosts polo tournaments ranging from six to 26-goal in addition to special events at its eleven well-manicured fields during the fall, winter and spring seasons.
The spring season is being live-streamed on Wellington-based ChukkerTV, worldwide leaders in polo broadcasting.
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.
The Polo School at Grand Champions, a 501c3 organization, 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.
2017 GRAND CHAMPIONS SPRING SCHEDULE
(Subject to change because of weather and scheduling conflicts).
MAY 19-21: Polo Gear Invitational.
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.
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 with food and refreshments during the featured games of the winter, spring and fall tournament seasons and other special events. Admission is free except for some special events.