By Sharon Robb
WELLINGTON, FL—May 13, 2018----The Spring Challenge Cup final was truly a family affair Saturday at Grand Champions Polo Club.
With three sets of fathers-and-sons and wife and mother of two players all competing, Dutta Corp (Timmy Dutta, 1, Lucas Diaz Alberdi, 5, Piki Diaz Alberdi, 7, Tim Dutta, 0) captured its third tournament of the spring season with an impressive 11-7 victory over Aspen Valley (Melissa Ganzi, 0, Grant Ganzi, 2, Nacho Novillo Astrada, 8, Marc Ganzi, 2).
"Family truly is what polo is all about and this is what Grand Champions is all about," Tim Dutta said. "The Ganzi family is amazing. They love kids, they love family and everybody that plays here is family.
"For us, the Dutta and Alberdi family, we enjoy playing with our sons," Dutta said. "Piki and I are very lucky to do this. We have a deep friendship and the friendship and chemistry shows on the field in how we fight for each other, we cover each other's mistakes and at the end as long as we are learning, Piki is happy. He is the ultimate coach, the ultimate mentor and the boys are having a lot of fun."
It was also the fourth tournament win for Timmy Dutta and Lucas Diaz Alberdi, who won the April 29th USPA Eastern Challenge with Sebucan teammates Pablo Pulido and Juan Martin Obregon.
At 16, Timmy Dutta, the youngest player in the five-team tournament, was named Most Valuable Player. Dutta scored a game-high 10 goals, the most he has scored in the United States. Dutta has scored a career-high 12 goals in a six-goal tournament in Argentina.
Dutta dedicated the victory to his mom, Susie, an accomplished international dressage athlete and outstanding trainer for more than two decades, for Mother's Day.
"I wanted to win it for her. In our family, at least one of us has to win including my girlfriend," Dutta said. "If she doesn't win or my mom loses, I have to win. We are a winning family with a lot of good competition.
"I am really happy with the win today," Dutta said. "I want to win all six tournaments. I am very hungry. I went through a dry spell the last tournament. I missed a lot of goals. Today I came to the table saying that I had to score.
"Today was relaxed, fun polo," Dutta said. "We played well as a team. I wouldn't be shocked to see us playing next year 14- and 16-goal polo."
Diamante, an 8-year-old chestnut mare, owned and played by Timmy Dutta in the fifth chukker, was selected the club's Best Playing Pony after a remarkable injury comeback.
Diamante was purchased as a 7-year-old from Carlitos Gracida in Mexico. While the horse was preparing for the beginning of the 2018 season with Curtis Pilot's team she cracked her hip wing bone on a bump. Diamante missed the 20, 12, 8 and 6-goal tournament season.
"That horse has done really well," Timmy Dutta said. "That was very hard for me when she got hurt. She had been improving and I knew she was going to be great for the season. She came back nicely. We gave her the time to rehab and she came back well.
"I knew coming into the Grand Champions season I was going to play her like she was going to play the season," Dutta said. "She has been playing fantastic, doing super. She is an amazing mare and the connection I have with her I am enjoying."
Added Tim Dutta, "We are using May to catch up on her training and putting the finishing touches on her. She is one fine animal. She has everything that you want: the power, the heart, the stop, the mouth, the distance. She is a two-chukker pony and she eats the ground up. Her temperament and beauty are unmatched. We are very blessed to have her."
Piki Diaz Alberdi scored Dutta Corp's first goal on a 30-yard penalty conversion to tie the game at 1-1 after Aspen Valley started with a 1-0 lead on handicap before Dutta went on his scoring spree.
"We were trying new things, we sent Timmy a little bit forward," former 10-goaler Piki Diaz Alberdi said. "Timmy had a very nice day today, he scored a lot of goals. The team worked good today, we worked hard.
"This was the best win so far," said Alberdi, whose team has also won the Santa Rita Abierto and Sun Cup. "The idea is to take every game and learn. We want to win and we play to win but we don't care, we want to learn more with each game and be tougher for next year. We need Timmy to be better, Tim to be better, Lucas and myself improve all the time and be better as a team."
The game was tied one last time, 2-2, before Dutta Corp mounted an offensive attack centered around Dutta scoring five consecutive goals for a 7-2 halftime lead.
"The team is evolving, it always does with Piki's support and guidance," Tim Dutta said. "He is an amazing captain. He raises our level of play. The past three months Timmy has been the attack dog and war dog, covering and opening doors. Our plan today was for Timmy to enjoy and for us to work for him.
"We knew it would be smooth sailing," Dutta said. "We didn't want to make much contact with this team. In order to do that, we opened the game up. It was the long ball. Whether it was in or out, Piki's instruction was 'fire.' Timmy was on the firing line and we worked for him today and made sure he was not worried about covering the back door. Today it was all about him. It was masterful strategy from Piki and it worked."
In the second half, Dutta Corp led by as many as six goals (9-3, 10-4, 11-5) before Aspen Valley closed the gap to four in the final two minutes.
"We had a game plan, we knew that they are dangerous, so we could not relax," Piki Diaz Alberdi said. "With the Ganzi teams, if you relax with the ball they catch you. I think it was a nice game. They missed some goals and we were lucky not to miss that much."
Melissa Ganzi led Aspen Valley with three goals and finished with nine goals in the tournament. Grant Ganzi, Marc Ganzi and Astrada each had one goal.
It was a special pre-Mother's Day for Grand Champions President and USPA Florida Circuit Governor Melissa Ganzi, the only woman in the tournament. For the first time in tournament and club history, Ganzi teamed up with her husband and son.
On Sunday, the Mother's Day Cup subsidiary round robin game is scheduled for Sunday at 11 a.m. with ChukkerTV (Josh DuBarry, 0, Nacho Novillo Astrada, 8, Pablo Dorignac, 5, Julio Gracida, 4), Grand Champions (Jeff Desich, 0, Juan Bollini, 5, Carlitos Gracida, 4, Lucas Lalor, 6) and Newport (Gene Goldstein, 1, Juancito Bollini, 4, Brandon Phillips, 5, Kris Kampsen, 6). Families, friends and fans will be treated to food and refreshments and custom-made Mother's Day cake.
The Spring Challenge is the fourth of six tournaments and halfway point of the season. The Polo Gear Challenge Invitational and The Memorial tournaments will close out the spring season.
Last year Dutta Corp (Carlitos Gracida, Timmy Dutta, Piki Diaz Alberdi, Tim Dutta) won the Spring Challenge Cup subsidiary game with an 8-5 victory over Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, Jason Crowder, Grant Ganzi, Mariano Uranga). Alberdi was MVP
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 0-26 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).
Mother's Day Cup, Sunday, 11 a.m., subsidiary round robin, ChukkerTV, Grand Champions and Newport.
May 18-20: Polo Gear Invitational.
May 25-28: The Memorial