By Sharon Robb
WELLINGTON, Fl.—April 21, 2017----Dutta Corp will go for the three-peat when it meets Sebucan in the championship final of the Santa Rita Abierto Sunday at Grand Champions Polo Club.
Dutta Corp (Timmy Dutta, Lucas Diaz Alberdi, Piki Diaz Alberdi, Alex Webb) looked impressive with 7-4 wins over Altair Polo (Ashley Busch, Moritz Gaedeke, Brandon Phillips, Kris Kampsen) and Deeridge (Will Jacobs, Grant Ganzi, Carlitos Gracida, Ezequiel Ferrario) in the opening nine-chukker round robin.
Sebucan (Josh Dubarry, Pablo Pulido, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Julio Gracida) advanced into the final with a hardfought 13-12 victory over Hidden Creek (Marc Ganzi, Sean Keys, Pablo Dorignac, Jesse Bray).
On Saturday, Grand Champions will host the USPA Governor's Cup on Field 1 at 1:30 p.m. followed by the USPA National President's Cup on Field 2 at 3 p.m.featuring Deeridge (Will Jacobs, Juan Olivera, Juancito Bollini, Tito Gaudenzi) against Aspen Valley Polo Club (Rich Desich, Melissa Ganzi, Grant Ganzi, Juan Bollini).
On Sunday, Altair Polo, Deeridge and Hidden Creek will play for the Grand Champions Cup at 9:45 a.m. on Field One. The championship final follows at 11 a.m. on Field Two.
In the opening round robin game, Deeridge defeated Altair Polo, 5-4. With Altair Polo leading 4-3 early in the third chukker, Ferrario scored back-to-back goals including the game-winner with 22 seconds left. Ferrario and Ganzi each had two goals and Jacobs added one. Phillips and Kampsen each had two goals for Altair Polo.
Dutta Corp led from start-to-finish in the second round robin game against Altair Polo. Dutta Corp jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the opening chukker. Webb scored three consecutive goals to open the chukker. Dutta Corp led 7-2 after the second chukker and never relinquished its lead. Busch and Webb each scored three goals. Lucas Diaz Alberdi scored two goals. Phillips, Dutta and Piki Diaz Alberdi each had one goal.
The third and final round robin was close. The opening chukker ended at 2-2 with two goals each from Lucas Diaz Alberdi and Ferrario. Dutta Corp pulled away in the second chukker, outscoring Deeridge, 3-0, with balanced scoring from Dutta, Webb and Piki Diaz Alberdi for a 5-2 advantage. Dutta Corp pulled away for a 7-2 lead in the final chukker before Ferrario scored two goals in the final two minutes. Ferrario scored all four of his team's goals. Lucas Diaz Alberdi led Dutta Corp with three goals, Dutta had two and Piki Diaz Alberdi and Webb each had one.
Timmy Dutta, 16, is coming off a successful 20-goal season with Dutta Corp and Pilot playing with brothers Facundo and Gonzalito Pieres and Curtis Pilot.
"I get to put to the test here what I learned playing the high goal season with Pilot and my father's team," Dutta said. "I get to play different positions and develop as a player. I get to play polo. I get to do what these guys do in the back. I get to play with the ball here.
"Grand Champions always provides spring polo as a learning curve," Dutta said. "This makes me really think of everything I learned this season and put it all to the test here. You could see today I was full throttle. If I come to play polo, I come to win."
In two weeks, Tim Dutta will join the lineup making it two father-son combinations.
"That's something a lot of players don't get to do, play with their fathers," Dutta said. "It's really special for Lucas and I. I get to play with my friends and my dad."
Dutta Corp is two-time defending champion. In 2016, as a 15-goal team Dutta Corp won the 16-goal tournament with Matias Magrini, Carlitos and Mariano Gracida and Timmy Dutta. Last year a talented 11-goal team of Tim Dutta, Timmy Dutta, Piki Diaz Alberdi and Carlitos Gracida won the 14-goal tournament with an impressive 12-5 victory over Whitehall Ranch.
"It's a matter of pride winning," Dutta said. "I have to stand my ground. I'm excited about this season."
Dutta is also working some of his green horses into the games including Francesca, a gray mare he played in the third chukker. "She played really well," Dutta said. "This is her test, too, to learn to play polo here. It's great for me to come up with the young horses."
In the second six-chukker regulation game, Sebucan led 11-6 after four chukkers before Hidden Creek started reeling them in, outcoring them 6-2 in the final two chukkers.
Bray's goal with 2:47 tied the game at 12-12. With 1:41, Novillo Astrada converted a clutch penalty-three (40 yards) and then came up with a goal-saving play with 43 seconds left to clinch the win.
Novillo Astrada led Sebucan with a team-high six goals. Gracida had four goals and Pulido added three. Bray scored a team-high six goals for Hidden Creek. Ganzi had four and Keys and Dorignac each had one.
The Santa Rita Abierto is the first of six tournaments in what is expected to be the best spring season in the club’s eleven-year history.
Several top and up-and-coming players and patrons will compete during the fun and competitive GCPC Spring Invitational League that features six 12-16-goal tournaments in April and May.
During the Grand Champions’ spring season, amateur polo players get the chance to play with and against some of the world’s top professional polo players including former 10-goaler Piki Diaz Alberdi, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Pablo Dorignac, Carlitos Gracida, Brandon Phillips, Kris Kampsen and Jesse Bray. It is geared towards improving polo skills and having fun.
The spring season is being live-streamed on Wellington-based ChukkerTV.
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 10 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, Sunny Hale's Legacy WCT Final 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.
2018 Spring Schedule
(Subject to change because of weather and scheduling conflicts).
Saturday, 1:30 p.m., USPA Governor's Cup, Field One; 3 p.m., USPA National President's Cup, Field Two, Grand Champions vs. Aspen Valley Polo Club.
Sunday, 9:45 a.m., Grand Champions Cup, Field One, Altair Polo, Deeridge and Hidden Creek; 11 a.m., Santa Rita Abierto Final, Dutta Corp vs. Sebucan, Field Two.