By Sharon Robb
WELLINGTON, FL—May 26, 2018----Intercontinental Hotel won its spring debut on a rain-soaked Friday at Santa Rita Polo Farm.
The foursome of Alejandro Poma, 1, Juancito Bollini, 4, Kris Kampsen, 6, and JJ Celis, 4, weathered a steady drizzle for most of the game to defeat Aspen Valley (Jeff Desich, 0, Carlitos Gracida, 4, Lucas Lalor, 5, Juan Bollini, 5), 6-3, and advance into Sunday's final.
Aspen Valley will play in the Polo Gear Challenge Cup in the opening game of Sunday's doubleheader.
The afternoon game featuring 14-goal teams Sebucan (Pablo Pulido, 2, Grant Ganzi, 2, Pablo Dorignac, 5, Brandon Phillips, 5) and Grand Champions (Josh Dubarry, 0, Marc Ganzi, 2, Nacho Novillo Astrada, 8, Julio Gracida, 4) was postponed because of rain.
Tournament officials hope to resume play on Saturday at a time to be determined. Fans should check the club hotline for weather and game updates.
Poma, a frequent player at both Grand Champions and its sister club Aspen Valley Polo Club, arrived in Wellington on Thursday and was hoping Mother Nature would cooperate for his first game and she did. The El Salvador native ended up sharing high scoring honors with Juancito Bollini. Each had three goals.
The last time Poma played was three weeks ago in Vero Beach and before that for 10 days at Santa Rita during the Easter holiday in practice sessions while preparing his horses.
"This is the first tournament for me but the last one at Grand Champions," Poma said. "I always try to play in May. I've been looking forward to it. I'm also playing in Aspen in late July through mid-August and hope to play two or three tournaments over there. I love it, I've been going there for many years."
The opening game started off slowly with Intercontinental Hotel taking a 2-1 lead on goals by Poma and Bollini and extended its lead to 3-1 by halftime.
"I think in the beginning we were being cautious," Poma said. "The rain and wet conditions always affect your mind. You want to be a little bit cautious so I think that affected the game.
"There were moments where the game opened up, we got things going and it got exciting," Poma said. "It was really fun."
Aspen Valley had its share of opportunities to tie the game but couldn't take advantage of its chances at the penalty line. Intercontinental Hotel was on the defensive for most of the game, holding Aspen Valley scoreless in four chukkers.
Jeff Desich scored all three goals for Aspen Valley.
"We had our chances," said Juan Bollini. "It was all about having fun out there and we were able to get the game in before it rained."
Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) is home to the world's most prestigious and well-loved hotel brands for luxury, boutique, family time and convenient comfort. For more information or hotel sites throughout the world including South Florida and Central America, go to www.ihg.com.
"It was actually an old sponsor of ours that I played with in Argentina in a few tournaments," Poma said. "But it's a brand that's very well-recognized and part of our hospitality group. We have a wonderful relationship with IHG."
In the 2017 Memorial tournment final, Newport (Gene Goldstein, Grant Ganzi, Pablo Dorignac, Julio Arellano) rallied for an 18-16 upset victory of previously undefeated and three-time defending champion Dutta Corp (Carlitos Gracida, Timmy Dutta, Piki Diaz Alberdi, Tim Dutta). Grant Ganzi was MVP.
In last year's spring Polo Gear Challenge Cup, 11-goal Dutta Corp (Carlitos Gracida, Timmy Dutta, Piki Diaz Alberdi, Tim Dutta) won its third title of the season with an 11-7 victory over 16-goal Newport (Gene Goldstein, Marc Ganzi, Lucas Lalor, Julio Arellano). Alberdi, a former 10-goaler in Great Britain, was MVP.
Polo Gear, one of the top sponsors and supporters of polo, was established in 1993 and incorporated in Florida. It manufactures, distributes and sells polo products to players, teams and polo events worldwide. It is the premier retailer for all necessary clothing, accessories, safety equipment and polo saddles for the polo enthusiasts of all ages. For more information on Polo Gear and to order products, visit www.pologearusa.net or at 3500 Fairlane Farms Road, Suite 15, Wellington.
Winners of this season's first four spring tournaments were Dutta Corp, three-peating both the Santa Rita Abierto and Sun Cup and winning the Spring Challenge; and Sebucan in the USPA Eastern Challenge.
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.
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, The Memorial, Sebucan vs. Grand Champions, TBA (check club hotline).
Sunday, Polo Gear Challenge Cup, 10 a.m.; The Memorial, 11 a.m.
Monday, 10 a.m., Rain Round Robin Cup.