By Sharon Robb
WELLINGTON, Fl., April 29, 2018---Sebucan and ChukkerTV will compete for the coveted USPA Eastern Challenge Cup Sunday in the 11 a.m. championship final at Santa Rita Polo Farm.
Sebucan (Timmy Dutta, 1, Pablo Pulido, 2, Lucas Diaz Alberdi, 5, Juan Martin Obregon, 5) and ChukkerTV (Josh Dubarry, 0, Pablo Dorignac, 5, Piki Diaz Alberdi, 7, Julio Gracida, 4) were top finishers in their respective Saturday round robins, both rescheduled because of lightning and heavy rain on Friday.
In the opening round robin, 13-goal Sebucan defeated Newport (Gene Goldstein, 1, Guille Aguero, 5, Lucas Lalor, 5, Carlitos Gracida, 4), 4-3, on Lucas Diaz Alberdi's game-winner right before the horn.
Sebucan also defeated Chateau D'esclans (Grant Ganzi, 2, Tony Calle, 3, Juancito Bollini, 4, Mike Azzaro, 6), 4-3. Sebucan was leading 4-1 after two chukkers before Chateau D'esclans rallied to come within one goal. Dutta's only goal in the second chukker turned out to be the game-winner.
In the other game, Chateau D'esclans and Newport tied, 3-3, with Bollini and Gracida each scoring two goals for their teams.
In the second round robin, 16-goal ChukkerTV defeated APHA (Jeff Desich, 0, Alex Webb, 0, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 8, Juan Bollini, 5), 5-3.5, and Altair Polo (Ashley Busch, 0, Marc Ganzi, 2, Brandon Phillips, 5, Nic Roldan, 8), 3-2.5.
In the other game, Altair Polo defeated APHA, 5-4.
Sebucan, playing with two members of Dutta Corp, one of the winningest teams in club history, had instant chemistry in their opening game on a rain-soaked Friday. The talented foursome was leading, 3-0, with 3:01 left in the second chukker when lightning forced the postponement until Saturday.
Sebucan took up where it left off playing well to defeat Newport and Chateau D'esclans, one of the tournament favorites.
Sebucan and ChukkerTV are making their spring final debuts. Lucas Diaz Alberdi will be playing against his father and Dutta against his coach, Piki Diaz Alberdi. With Tim Dutta in Tryon, N.C. at a test event for the World Equestrian Games, Dutta Corp decided not to compete and play with other teams and players.
"For me it's good to play with different players and different teams for the experience," Timmy Dutta said. "It helps me mature as an individual player by myself. I have to make the plays myself, I have to think. I have amazing chemistry with Piki, Lucas and my dad but it's good to play with different players.
"I played with Juan Martin Obregon in one game of 20-goal this season for Dutta Corp and we played pretty well," Dutta said. "The chemistry was working today. Pablo is a good player. I have always played against him and never with him so today was good. The team works really well."
Josh Dubarry of ChukkerTV is also making his championship debut. At 12, he is the youngest player in the tournament.
In the opening game of Sunday's doubleheader, Aspen Valley Cup at 9:45 a.m., Altair Polo (15) (Ashley Busch, Marc Ganzi, Brandon Phillips, Nic Roldan), Newport (14) (Jeff Desich, Gene Goldstein, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Juan Bollini) and Chateau D'esclans (14) (Tony Calle, Grant Ganzi, Carlitos Gracida, Juancito Bollini) will play a round robin.
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, Sunday, 9:45 a.m., Aspen Valley Cup: Altair Polo, Newport and Chateau D'esclans; 11 a.m., Championship final, Sebucan vs. ChukkerTV.
May 4-6: USPA Sun Cup
May 11-13: The Spring Challenge Cup
May 18-20: Polo Gear Invitational
May 25-28: The Memorial