WELLINGTON, FL., January 8, 2018---The highly-anticipated 2018 winter season opens this week at Grand Champions Polo Club.
By Sharon Robb
Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm have put the finishing touches on the turnkey club's well-manicured fields in anticipation of its biggest and best winter polo season.
During the 2017 winter season the club attracted a record 72 teams and another 18 teams during the spring season. The club hopes to equal or top that success in 2018.
The nation's largest and innovative USPA-sanctioned polo club nestled in the heart of the world's winter polo capital kicks off its season on Wednesday.
Ten teams will compete in this month's 8-goal Aspen Valley Cup and The Limited Edition 12-Goal Series tournaments.
There is a large international field of players from all corners of the world converging on Grand Champions including India, Mexico, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Argentina, Canada, Ecuador, Uruguay and England.
The Aspen Valley Cup 8-Goal league play begins Wednesday at 3 p.m. with Dutta Corp playing Newport.
The 8-goal team rosters are:
Altair Polo: Ashley Busch, 0, Kristos Magrini, 1, Henry Porter, 2, Brandon Phillips, 5.
Dutta Corp: Tim Dutta, 0, Nico Diaz Alberdi, 1, Timmy Dutta, 1, Lucas Diaz Alberdi, 5.
Newport: Gene Goldstein, 1, Santos Bollini, 1, Lucas Arellano, 2, Tommy Alberdi, 4.
Patagones: Joaquin Avendano, 1, Santiago Avendano, 1, Benjamin Avendano, 2, Robi Bilbao, 4.
Six teams, featuring some of the sport's top players, will compete in the Limited Edition 12-Goal Series tournament that begins Friday with a doubleheader. Beverly Equestrian plays Palm Beach Equine at 1 p.m. and Patagones plays Sebucan at 3 p.m.
The team rosters are:
Beverly Equestrian: Bill Balhaus, 0, Hilario Figueras, 2, Carlucho Arellano, 5, Tolito Ocampo, 4.
Dutta Corp: Tim Dutta, 0, Timmy Dutta, 1, Piki Diaz Alberdi, 7, Carlitos Gracida, 4.
GSA/Goose Creek: Maureen Brennan, 1, Henry Porter, 2, Santino Magrini, 3, Peke Gonzales, 5.
Palm Beach Equine: Scott Swerdlin, 0, Gringo Colmbres, 7, TBA, TBA.
Patagones: Joaquin Avendano, 1, Robi Bilbao, 4, Santi Wulff, 5, Benjamin Avendano, 2.
Sebucan: Pablo Pulido, 2, Marc Ganzi, 2, Jesse Bray, 5, Stewart Armstrong, 3.
Timmy Dutta, 16, a sophomore at #1 Education Place in Wellington, is coming off his Sunday debut with Pilot in the 20-goal Joe Barry Cup. Dutta, brothers Gonzalito and Facundo Pieres and Curtis Pilot lost a 13-11 decision to Travieso, which got its start in Grand Champions league play.
The weekly Women's League, created by Alina Carta and Melissa Ganzi and made its debut last year at Santa Rita Polo Farm, returns this season on Wednesdayat 10 a.m. Women's polo continues to be the largest growing sector in polo.
Season highlights for 2018 are the Feb. 21-March 17 Sterling Cup, March 1-10 $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament, March 14-31 John T. Oxley 16-20 Goal Memorial and April 1-14 $100,000 World Cup Tournament, a unique winner-take-all single-elimination tournament.
In polo's heyday, the 16-20 Sterling Cup was the second tournament of the 22-goal season at the Palm Beach Polo and Country Club and attracted as many as sixteen teams. The World Cup also returns with a unique format where teams of any handicap from 0 to 40 can compete for the $100,000 prize purse.
Grand Champions and Santa Rita Polo Farm 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 in the future.
Grand Champions is coming off its finest fall season in the club's 11-year history. It was the only club in the nation to stage two USPA-sanctioned 20-goal fall tournaments in addition to the International Cup and Carlos Gracida Legends of Polo Memorial. The club also hosted five successful medium goal tournaments.
"Marc and Melissa Ganzi have worked hard to make sure polo keeps growing," said Grand Champions Polo Director Juan Olivera. "Polo needs more pioneers like them for their support to help the base grow in the U.S. They are supporting the young players and building the future of the sport. Marc and Melissa have put in a lot of effort to promote polo and create more tournaments."
The Club Hotline is 561-644-5050. It will be updated every day at 8 a.m. for both players and fans.
2018 Winter Schedule
(Subject to change because of weather and scheduling conflicts).
Aspen Valley Cup- 8 Goal Game Schedule
Wednesday, January 10 @3pm- Dutta Corp vs Newport; Sunday, January 14 @10am - Altair Polo vs Patagones; Friday, January 19 @1pm - Newport vs Altair Polo; Sunday, January 21 @10am - Newport vs Patagones; Monday, January 22 @10am - Dutta Corp vs Altair Polo; Wednesday, January 31 @3:30pm - Dutta Corp vs Patagones; Friday, February 2 @3:30pm- Aspen Valley Cup 8 Goal Final
Limited Edition 12 Goal Game Schedule
Friday, January 12 @ 1pm- Beverly Equestrian vs Palm Beach Equine; Friday, January 12 @ 3pm- Patagones vs Sebucan; Sunday, January 14 @ 12pm- Beverly Equestrian vs GSA/Goose Creek; Tuesday, January 16 @ 3pm- Dutta Corp vs Sebucan; Thursday, January 18 @3pm - Palm Beach Equine vs GSA/Goose Creek; Friday, January 19 @ 3pm - Patagones vs Dutta Corp; Friday, January 26 @1pm- Limited Edition 12 Goal Semifinals; Friday, January 26 @3pm- Limited Edition 12 Goal Semifinals; Saturday, January 27 @3pm- Aspen Valley Cup Finals; Sunday, January 28 @10am- Limited Edition 12 Goal Handicap Final; Sunday, January 28 @12pm- Limited Edition 12 Goal Final
Women's Polo Weekly League, Wednesdays 10a.m.
FEB. 1-25: Halo Polo 6-Goal Trophy; FEB. 1-25: Top Pony 8-Goal Series; FEB. 2-24: Sieber Memorial 12-Goal Trophy; FEB. 21-MAR. 17: Sterling 16-20 Cup; FEB. 21-MAR. 17: Sterling Cup Subsidiary; Women's Polo Weekly League.
MARCH 1-24: Madelon Bourdieu 6-Goal Memorial; MARCH 1-24: The Limited Edition 8-Goal Series; MARCH 1-10: $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament; MARCH 1-31: Top Pony 12-Goal Series; MARCH 14-31: John T. Oxley 16-20 Goal Memorial; MARCH 14-31: John T. Oxley 16-20 Memorial Subsidiary; Women's Polo Weekly League.
APRIL 3-8: WCT Tournament; APRIL 1-18: Las Acacias 4-8 Goal; APRIL 1-14: $100,000 World Cup (0-40); APRIL 12-21: National President's Cup; Women's Polo Weekly League.