By Sharon Robb
WELLINGTON, Fl.—April 22, 2017----Grand Champions Polo Club will host the inaugural Polo 150 launch match on Wednesday at 10 a.m.
Several pros and amateurs will compete in the six-chukker regulation game to help promote next year's celebration of the 150th anniversary (1869-2019) of the modern game of polo.
Retired British Forces Major Mark Cann is visiting the United States to help promote the 150th anniversary of the sport in 2019. Cann is the director of the United Kingdom Armed Forces Polo Association, the historical custodian of the sport.
"Next year is the 150th anniversary of polo, the modern game when Army officers got together and played a game," Cann said. "They thought it was a great thing so the military and British wrote the rules. It very quickly spread and that was the beginning of modern polo."
Cann and the United Kingdom Armed Forces Polo Association wanted to identify the milestone with a celebration of polo next year at various clubs throughout the world including the U.S.
"We want to raise a glass to the 150th anniversary," Cann said. "We want to emphasize the amazing and positive things that have happened in polo over 150 years."
Cann said among the sport's high points are: "It's the only contact sport where men and women can compete equally, it's a wonderful leveler; a celebration of the horse; it's an amazing sport for philanthropy and helping charities; it's a wonderful community that actually helps each other and it attracts a lot of people.
"We want to say this is a milestone for the sport and do what you do and that's play polo on the 150th anniversary," Cann said.
"The Wednesday event is to launch the event, a test event to kick off the launch," said Cann, a player for more than three decades who will also compete. "I am on this junket to whip up support. Melissa Ganzi has been great supporting us and Polo 150."
Another similar Polo 150 event is set for this summer at Aspen Valley Polo Club, the sister club of Grand Champions Polo Club.
Grand Champions is in the midst of its spring season. The Santa Rita Abierto successfully opened the season last weekend with Dutta Corp winning a three-peat in a lightning-abbreviated game. It was the first of six tournaments in what is expected to be the best spring season in the club’s eleven-year history. This week the USPA Eastern Challenge will be on tap.
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.
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).
Wednesday, 10 a.m., Polo 150 Launch Game, pre-celebration of the 150th anniversary of polo, Grand Champions Polo Club.
April 27-29: USPA Eastern Challenge
May 4-6: USPA Sun Cup
May 11-13: The Spring Challenge Cup
May 18-20: Polo Gear Invitational
May 25-28: The Memorial