By Sharon Robb
WELLINGTON, Fla., October 18, 2018----After a successful and exciting season-opener, the second tournament of the fall season gets under way Friday at Grand Champions Polo Club.
In last week's hardfought game, Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Julio Gracida, MVP Mariano Gracida) defeated Flexjet (Santos Bollini, Lucas Escobar, Kris Kampsen, Juan Bollini), 10-9, in overtime to win the Tackeria Invitational.
This week the US Trust Cup opens with two games on Friday at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., both on Field 4.
In the first game at 10 a.m., ChukkerTV (Santos Bollini, Brandon Phillips, Julio Gracida, Juan Bollini) will meet Newport (Gene Goldstein, Grant Ganzi, Juan Cruz Merlos, Kris Kampsen). Both teams are rated at 14 goals.
In the second game at 4 p.m., Sebucan (Pablo Pulido, Whistle Uys, Carlitos Gracida, Juancito Bollini) plays Travieso (Justin Daniels, Tony Calle, Pablo Dorignac, Mariano Gracida).
The winners advance into Sunday's championship final at 5 p.m. after the Just For The Fun Of It subsidiary final at 3:30 p.m.
Three members of Team USPA, Grant Ganzi, Justin Daniels and Tony Calle are competing in the two-day tournament. The Team USPA program was created in 2010 to improve learning, training and playing opportunities for young American players in an effort to grow and sustain the sport in the U.S. Players are selected for the team based on talent, enthusiasm and dedication to polo.
In last year's US Trust Cup tournament, Casablanca (MVP Mike Azzaro, Grant Ganzi, Jason Crowder, Cacho Galindo) won the title after a spirited round robin with Audi and Team USA after heavy rains cancelled the qualifying round.
In 2016, US Trust (Marc Ganzi, Grant Ganzi, MVP Jared Sheldon, Nic Roldan) won the title for the second consecutive year. Because of Hurricane Matthew, the tournament was condensed into a one-day round robin format based on net goals.
An added treat for fans will be the return of world-renown polo announcer Jan-Erik Franck. Franck was a hit among fans last year during the winter season. With his keen wit, he makes it both entertaining and educational for fans. He has been a polo announcer at various tournaments around the world for more than 20 years.
"To explain polo as simply as possible is my most important role while being as entertaining and amusing and funny as possible," Franck said. Franck is also a licensed HPA umpire, polo coach and playe
US Trust, founded in 1853, is a wealth management and private banking company designed to address the needs of its clients, regardless of complexity. It provides investment management, wealth structuring, credit and lending services to clients. It is the first and oldest trust company in the United States.
The U.S. Trust Cup is the second of six medium-goal touraments in addition to 20-goal action during the season. Grand Champions is one of the few USPA-sanctioned clubs that offers fall polo.
"The fall season is important to us because it is a continuation of the sport and shows the world you can play polo twelve months a year," said Grand Champions Director of Operations Juan Bollini. "It's good, competitive polo and the best time of the year with great weather and great fields in October and November after five months of rest."
The fall season is a good tuneup for the winter season (January-April) for players and green horses. The winter season will feature the debut of the highly-anticipated 26-goal World Polo League at Grand Champions and Valiente Polo Farm featuring 10-goalers Adolfo Cambiaso, Pablo MacDonough, Pelon Sterling and Juan Martin Nero.
The Polo School, a 501c3 organization and stand-alone USPA club, is also open at Grand Champions and Santa Rita Polo Farm. It is dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grass roots youth. Its mission is to provide individuals opportunities in polo at every economic and ability level. Scholarships are available. The Polo School operates in Wellington January through June and September through November.
Grand Champions is one of the nation's busiest and most innovative polo clubs, hosting both medium and high goal polo in the fall highlighted by the Triple Crown of Polo Tournament, Carlos Gracida Legends of Polo and International Cup.
Among the highlights of the season are the Oct. 20-27 USPA North American Cup, Nov. 3-17 USPA National 20-Goal Championship; Nov. 14 Triple Crown of Polo Tournament and Romero Britto Celebration; and Nov. 24 doubleheader featuring the Carlos Gracida Legends of Polo Memorial and International Cup.
This year's Nov. 24 International Cup will feature defending champion Team USA against Azerbaijan. This year the U.S. team will put its six-year winning streak on the line against Azerbaijan, known as the Land of Fire and Ice, and one of the most improved polo teams in the world. Recently, Azerbaijan finished runner-up to Italy in the FIP European Championship.
Last year Team USA ( Grant Ganzi, Carlitos Gracida, Julio Arellano, Mike Azzaro) defeated Brazil, 9-7, to capture the sixth annual International Cup event. Arellano was named Most Valuable Player for the third consecutive year. Since 2012, Team USA has defeated England, Chile, Mexico, South Africa and Uruguay in International Cup history.
The well-organized and competitive fall tournaments attract players from all over the United States and world including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, England, France, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria and South Africa.
Grand Champions had its finest fall season in club history last year. Grand Champions was the only club in the nation to stage two USPA-sanctioned 20-goal fall tournaments and again is hosting two 20-goal tournaments this season.
The Grand Champions Fall Invitational League is geared toward improving a player's polo skills at every level. Roster lineups change from tournament to tournament with evenly-matched teams featuring pro and amateur players.
Club owners Marc and Melissa Ganzi, both accomplished players, take pride in teaching and sharing the exciting sport of polo with anyone interested in learning. The husband and wife team are coming off a successful summer season at their Aspen Valley Polo Club which concluded over Labor Day Weekend.
The fall league features: stick-and-ball sessions during the week; two medium tournament games every weekend; ambulance and USPA umpires for all tournament games; world-class polo fields; club-sponsored social events every weekend for all players; and top-of-the-line trophies for all teams every weekend. Grand Champions and Santa Rita Polo Farm hosts polo tournaments ranging from six to 26-goal in addition to special events at its well-manicured fields during the winter season.
Wellington-based ChukkerTV will live stream the entire fall season. ChukkerTV's state-of-the art technology also features team challenges and instant replay which made their debut at Grand Champions in January, 2014.
Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm cater 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 at the turnkey facility.