By Sharon Robb
WELLINGTON, Fla., November 13, 2018---The coveted Triple Crown of Polo's third and final leg of the 2018 polo series will be held Wednesday at Grand Champions Polo Club.
Flexjet (Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Jeff Blake, Julio Gracida) will play American Polo Horse (Justin Daniels, Tony Calle, Jeff Hall, Whystle Uys) shortly after 4 p.m.
Designed by Tiffany & Co., the magnificent trophy is comprised of three separate trophies that fit perfectly together to create an entire polo scene that is breathtaking in sterling silver.
The winning teams' names will be inscribed on the trophy and added to an impressive list of teams that feature several top players including Sebastian Merlos, Mike Azzaro, Tommy Biddle, Adam Snow, Nic Roldan, Matias Magrini, Jeff Hall, Mariano Gonzalez, Michel Dorignac and Kris Kampsen.
The Triple Crown of Polo, an ESPN2 television series, was created in 2005 by David McLane, known for Pro Beach Hockey, Women of Wrestling and Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, to help promote polo in the U.S. The show was seen in 129 countries.
The spectacular trophy was created for the event that had stops at the Sarasota Polo Club, Las Colinas Polo Club in Dallas and Santa Barbara Polo Club the first year in 2006 and Sarasota and the New Bridge Polo and Country Club in Aiken, South Carolina in 2007 during its heyday before it went on hiatus.
The first leg of the Triple Crown of Polo was held at Denver Polo Club during the summer and won by Scone (David Paradice, Agustin Nero, Agusto Gomez Romero, Guillermo Terrera).
The second leg held at Grand Champions' sister club Aspen Valley Polo Club in Colorado was won by first-year team Mandarina.
The foursome of Sarah Magness, Melissa Ganzi, Alejandro Novillo Astrada and Juan Bollini defeated Woodrow Farm (Leigh Brecheen, Marc Ganzi, Nic Roldan, Tano Vial), 7-6, to win the biggest prize of the club's summer polo season.
Argentine 8-goaler Alejandro Novillo Astrada was named Most Valuable Player. In the championship final, Melissa Ganzi led Mandarina with a game-high five goals including the game-winner.
The Triple Crown of Polo was the tenth and final outdoor grass tournament and 13th overall of the most successful summer polo season in AVPC history.
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 featuring the World Polo League 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.
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 and Nov. 24 Carlos Gracida Legends of Polo and International Cup doubleheader on Thanksgiving weekend.
This year's 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 and is on track to repeat this season. 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 fall season including the Triple Crown of Polo. 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.