WELLINGTON, Fl., March 4, 2018---The fifth annual $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament gets under way Monday when Team USPA plays Grand Champions at 2 p.m. at Santa Rita Polo Farm.
One of the nation’s most important and competitive 12-goal tournaments is the only tournament to offer major prize money at the 12-goal level.
The eight-team, winner-take-all, single-elimination tournament has attracted some of the sport’s top players including several up-and-coming young athletes.
The draw was held Saturday after the Saturday Polo featured game of the Sterling Cup between Travieso and U.S. Polo Assn at Grand Champions Polo Club.
Team lineups are:
GSA (10): Henry Porter, 2; Santino Magrini, 3; Torito Ruiz, 5, Nachi Viana, 1.
Deeridge (11): Santos Bollini, 1, Juan Bollini, 5, Alex Webb, 0, Jesse Bray, 5.
Grand Champions (12): Grant Ganzi, 2, Juancito Bollini, 4, Matt Coppola, 4, Bauti Panelo, 2.
Team USPA (12): Felipe Viana, 5, Tommy Alberdi, 4, Nick Johnson, 3, Julia Smith, 0.
Beverly Equestrian (11): Bill Ballhaus, 0, Hilario Figueras, 2, Tolito Ocampo, 4, Carlucho Arellano, 4.
Work To Ride (12): Joseph Manheim, 0, Kareem Rosser, 2, Mariano Aguerre, 9, Rob Jornayvaz, 1.
Wildcat (12): Jason Crowder, 6, Ryan Gilbertson, 0, Del Walton, 3, Wes Bryan, 3.
Gracida Wines (12): Carlitos Gracida, 4, Mariano Gracida, 4, Stewart Armstrong, 3, Harrison Azzaro, 1.
GSA returns as defending champion. Three of the four players return to defend their title. They are Henry Porter, Santino Magrini and Torito Ruiz. MVP Juan Martin Zubia, now in college, is not returning this year.
GSA defeated Casablanca (Matias Gonzalez, Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Jesse Bray), 13-6 and became the youngest team in tournament history to win. Zubia scored a game-high six goals, Ruiz had five and Magrini scored two.
The 2016 champion was Palm Beach Illustrated/Team USPA, 13-12 winners over Pony Express (Justin Daniels, Benji Daniels, Bautista Urbina, Tomas Goti). The foursome of Todd Thurston, Jared Zenni, Geronimo Obregon and Jesse Bray, all Team USPA members, was then the youngest team to win the title. Bray was named Most Valuable Player after turning in one of his finest career performances.
In 2015, Audi (Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Mark Tomlinson, Wes Finlayson) had one of its best games of the season to defeat Newport (Gene Goldstein, Joaquin Panelo, Michel Dorignac, Agustin Arellano). Tomlinson, 32, one of England’s top polo players and rated seven goals in his homeland, was named MVP.
In 2014, Palm Beach Equine won the inaugural tournament. In the final, the team of Dr. Scott Swerdlin, Alejandro Gonzalez, Tommy Collingwood and Luis Escobar came from behind to defeat Casablanca, 11-9. The Casablanca team featured Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Carlitos Gracida and Nic Roldan. Escobar was named MVP.
Wellington-based ChukkerTV, leaders in polo broadcasting, is live streaming the tournament
Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique private 100-acre 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 polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation and stick-and-ball fields.
During fall, winter and spring seasons, Grand Champions Polo Club, the nation's largest club with 11 well-manicured fields, hosts polo tournaments ranging from six to 26-goal in addition to special events.
The club features monthly 6, 8 and 12-goal tournaments and women's weekly league play during the winter season in addition to two 16-20 tournaments, $50,000 National 12-Goal, $100,000 World Cup winner-take-all 0-40-goal tournament, WCT Tournament and USPA National President's Cup.
During the 2017 winter season Grand Champions attracted a record 72 teams and another 18 teams during the spring season.
Grand Champions caters 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, the only polo club in the U.S. to offer the unique program.
The Club Hotline is 561-644-5050. It will be updated every day at 8 a.m. for both players and fans