By Sharon Robb
WELLINGTON, Fla., October 28, 2018----On a perfect day for polo, Sebucan won the Fall Classic Sunday at Grand Champions Polo Club.
Sebucan (Pablo Pulido, 2, Whistle Uys, 4, Mariano Gracida, 4, Julio Gracida, 4), trailing by two goals after the fourth chukker, bounced back for a 10-8 victory over Audi (Santos Bollini, 1, Justin Daniels, 2, Brandon Phillips, 4, Pablo Dorignac, 5).
The tournament ended a perfect week of polo at Grand Champions that also featured the USPA North American Cup won by Travieso with a thrilling 14-13 overtime victory over Audi.
It was Sebucan's second consecutive tournament victory. Last weekend Sebucan won the US Trust Cup. This weekend Sebucan will try and make it three in a row as defending champion of the Fall Plates Tournament.
Pablo Pulido, playing well above his 2-goal rating, was selected Most Valuable Player. The former collegiate player at Cornell, played well offensively and defensively while scoring a game-high four goals. Pulido was also MVP for the 2017 USPA Fall Plates and 2018 USPA Eastern Challenge.
Alexa, a 10-year-old gray mare, owned and played by Pulido in the fifth chukker, was named Best Playing Pony.
"I bought her when she was five years old," Pulido said. "She has come a long way. She is a lot of fun."
Unlike Friday's preliminary game which Sebucan lost to Audi, 10-7, Sebucan played more like a team using all four players.
"We played together more, everyone was playing their position," Pulido said. "The other day we were just running around the field. It played out better today and that made a difference. Today we were hitting the ball forward and that also helped."
Uys also played with Pulido in last week's US Trust Cup and was MVP.
"It was great fun playing with these players," Pulido said. "The organization has been great. The teams being put together in the fall season is great and the fields are playing phenomenal."
After a summer layoff, Pulido said he enjoys playing in the fall. "I don't play in the summer so it makes me get back in shape after long summer days and the weather is incredible now."
Sebucan got balanced scoring. In addition to Pulido's four goals, Mariano Gracida had three goals, Whistle Uys scored two and Julio Gracida added one goal.
Audi, which started out with a two-goal lead on handicap, was led by Santos Bollini with a team-high three goals. Brandon Phillips had two goals and Team USPA's Justin Daniels added one goal and played well defensively.
In last year's Fall Classic, Casablanca (Cacho Galindo, Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, MVP Mike Azzaro) won with a 9-8 victory over Team USPA (Matias Gonzalez, Jesse Bray, Felipe Viana, Jimmy Wright).
The Fall Classic was the third of six medium-goal touraments in addition to 20-goal action during the season. Casablanca (MVP Mariano Gracida, Juancito Bollini, Julio Gracida, Grant Ganzi) won the season-opening Tackeria Invitational and Sebucan (Pablo Pulido, Juancito Bollini, MVP Whistle Uys, Carlitos Gracida) won the US Trust Cup last weekend.
World-renown polo announcer Jan-Erik Franck is calling the action during the fall season, St. Regis World Snow Polo Championship in Aspen in December and winter season at Grand Champions. Franck, popular among fans, makes it both entertaining and educational. He has been a polo announcer at various tournaments around the world for more than 20 years.
Grand Champions is one of the few USPA-sanctioned clubs that offers fall polo. The fall season is a good tuneup for the winter season for players and green horses. The winter season features 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.
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 and International Cup.
Among season highlights are the 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 Legends of Polo Carlos Gracida 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 in Tuscany.
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 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 tournament 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.
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 and Santa Rita Polo Farm hosts polo tournaments ranging from six to 26-goal during the winter season in addition to special events at its well-manicured fields during the fall, winter and spring seasons.
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.
The Polo School, a 501c3 organization and stand-alone USPA club, is thriving 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.