By Sharon Robb
WELLINGTON, Fla., November 1, 2018----Will Sebucan make it three in a row this weekend?
After winning back-to-back fall tournaments, Sebucan will try and defend its' title in the Fall Plates Tournament at Grand Champions Polo Club.
In last year's Fall Plates final, the talented foursome of Pablo Pulido, Guille Aguero, Luis Escobar and Carlitos Gracida knocked off Casablanca (Benjamin Avendano, Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Mike Azzaro), 11-7, to win at Santa Rita Polo Farm. Pulido was named MVP.
Sebucan, headed by Cornell alum Pablo Pulido, has already won this season's US Trust Cup and Fall Classic. It is the sixth year Sebucan, named after a neighborhood in Caracas, Venezuela, has played at Grand Champions.
Four teams will compete over two days. On Friday, Grand Champions-based pro teams Audi (Marc Ganzi, Tony Calle, Brandon Phillips, Carlitos Gracida) and Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi/Santos Bollini, Justin Daniels, Juan Bollini, Guille Aguero) will play at 3:30 p.m. followed by Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Jeff Blake, Mariano Gracida) against Sebucan (Pablo Pulido, Whistle Uys, Pablo Dorignac, Julio Gracida) at 4:45 p.m.
Blake and Aguero are making their fall debut at Grand Champions. Ganzi, Daniels and Calle are members of Team USPA.
On Sunday, the first day Daylight Saving Time comes to an end (set your clocks back one hour before you go to bed Saturday night for more daylight in the morning hours), the "Just For The Fun Of It" subsidiary final is 10 a.m. followed by the championship final at 11:30 a.m.
The Fall Plates is the fourth 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; Sebucan (Pablo Pulido, Juancito Bollini, MVP Whistle Uys, Carlitos Gracida) won the US Trust Cup and Sebucan (MVP Pablo Pulido, Whistle Uys, Mariano Gracida, Julio Gracida) won the Fall Classic 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. Franck is also a polo player, HPA instructor, La Martina ambassador and polo columnist. He was recently the featured cover story in POLO+10 magazine.
"I think it’s great that polo is making itself known and gaining awareness in more and more places all over the world which will hopefully also encourage a greater following and contribute in cultivating an even bigger generation of future polo players," Franck said.
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.
"The fall season is important to us because it is a continuation of the sport and shows the world you can play polo all 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."
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 USPA National 20-Goal Championship; Triple Crown of Polo Tournament and Romero Britto Celebration; and doubleheader featuring the Legends of Polo Carlos Gracida Memorial and International Cup on Thanksgiving weekend.
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 fall tournaments attract players from all over the United States and world including Azerbaijan, 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 is live streaming 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.