By Sharon Robb
WELLINGTON, Fl., April 27, 2018---Six well-balanced and talented teams will compete in the USPA Eastern Challenge that begins Friday at Grand Champions Polo Club.
Hall of Famer and former 10-goaler Mike Azzaro, 8-goalers Alejandro Novillo Astrada and Nic Roldan and former 10-goaler Piki Diaz Alberdi head the field for the two-day tournament.
Making their spring debuts are Gene Goldstein, Guille Aguero and Lucas Lalor of Newport; Juan Martin Obregon of Sebucan; Tony Calle and Azzaro of Chateau D'esclans; Jeff Desich of APHA; and Roldan of Altair Polo.
Two round robins will open action on Friday. At 3 p.m., Chateau D'esclans, Newport and Sebucan will play and 5 p.m. APHA, Chukker TV and Altair Polo will compete.
The winner of each round robin advance into Sunday's championship at 11 a.m. The other four teams, depending on round robin finishes, will compete for the Grand Champions and Aspen Cups at 9:45 a.m.
The team rosters are:
Altair Polo: Ashley Busch, Marc Ganzi, Brandon Phillips, Nic Roldan.
APHA: Jeff Desich, Melissa Ganzi, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Juan Bollini.
Chateau D'esclans: Tony Calle, Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Mike Azzaro.
ChukkerTV: Josh Dubarry, Pablo Dorignac, Piki Diaz Alberdi, Julio Gracida.
Newport: Gene Goldstein, Carlitos Gracida, Guille Aguero, Lucas Lalor.
Sebucan: Pablo Pulido, Timmy Dutta, Juan Martin Obregon, Lucas Diaz Alberdi.
In last year's USPA Eastern Challenge, Clearwater rallied in the second half to defeat Dutta Corp, 12-10, in the final. Dutta Corp (Timmy Dutta, Kris Kampsen, Piki Diaz Alberdi,Tim Dutta), a 13-goal team, started with a four-goal lead against 17-goal Clearwater (Chip Campbell, Michael Bickford, Ezequiel Ferrario, Jeff Hall) and led until the second half. Ferrario was MVP.
The U.S. Polo Association (USPA) was organized and exists for the purposes of promoting the game of polo, coordinating the activities of its member clubs and registered players, arranging and supervising polo tournaments, competitions and games, and providing rules, handicaps and conditions for those tournaments, competitions and games including the safety and welfare of participants and mounts.
Founded in 1890, the USPA is the national governing body for the sport of polo. USPA is currently comprised of almost 300 member clubs including Grand Champions, The Polo School and Aspen Valley Polo Club, with thousands of individual members, and oversees 40 national tournaments. For more information or how to join, go to uspolo.org.
Grand Champions is in the midst of its six-tournament spring season. Several top and up-and-coming players and patrons 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 by 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).
USPA Eastern Challenge, Friday, 3 p.m., round robins, Newport, Sebucan, Chateau D'esclans; 5 p.m., APHA, ChukkerTV, Altair; Sunday, 9:45 a.m., subsidiary games, Grand Champions Cup and Aspen Cup; 11 a.m., Championship final.
May 4-6: USPA Sun Cup
May 11-13: The Spring Challenge Cup
May 18-20: Polo Gear Invitational
May 25-28: The Memorial