By Sharon Robb
WELLINGTON, FL—May 5, 2018----Two-time defending champion Dutta Corp will meet Newport in the Sun Cup final Sunday at Grand Champions Polo Club.
It will be a rematch of the 2016 final when Dutta Corp (Timmy Dutta, Tony Calle, Piki Diaz Alberdi, Brandon Phillips) knocked off Newport (Gene Goldstein, Grant Ganzi, Julio Arellano, Juancito Bollini), 8-6.
The championship final gets under way at 11:30 a.m. after the Sun Festival Subsidiary Cup featuring Sebucan, Grand Champions and ChukkerTV in a round-robin at 10 a.m.
On Friday morning, Newport (Gene Goldstein, 1, Grant Ganzi, 2, Marc Ganzi, 2, Nacho Novillo Astrada, 9) edged Grand Champions (Jeff Desich, 0, Lucas Lalor, 5, Carlitos Gracida, 4, Pablo Dorignac, 5), 7-6, in the opening game to advance into the final.
Later in the afternoon in a round- robin, Dutta Corp (Timmy Dutta, 1, Lucas Diaz Alberdi, 5, Piki Diaz Alberdi, 7, Tim Dutta, 0) defeated ChukkerTV (Josh DuBarry, 0, Brandon Phillips, 5, Kris Kampsen, 6, Julio Gracida, 4), 3-2, and Sebucan (Rich Desich, 1, Pablo Pulido, 2, Mike Azzaro, 6, Juan Bollini, 5), 4-1, to make its third consecutive appearance in the Sun Cup final. In the other-round robin game, Sebucan defeated ChukkerTV, 4-2.
The highlight of the nine-chukker round robin was the debut of the club's first Jumbotron, a large-screen television using technology and typically used in sports stadiums and concert venues to show close up shots of an event. Polo fans will enjoy watching re-plays and action up-close.
In the deciding third and final round- robin game, Timmy Dutta, playing his lightning-quick 20-goal string, scored all four of his team's goals as Dutta Corp went on the attack in the opening chukker and never let up. The 16-year-old finished with five goals in two games.
In a physical game, Dutta Corp came out on the offensive attack with Lucas Diaz Alberdi just missing an opening goal and Timmy Dutta bouncing one off the goal post. With Piki Diaz Alberdi controlling the pace, the former 10-goaler started hitting Timmy Dutta with long accurate passes for two goals in the final two minutes for a 2-0 lead after one chukker.
"In these round-robins you have to keep attacking from the throw-ins to the end," Timmy Dutta said. "You only have three chukkers and you have to play it like it's the last three chukkers of the game and that's what we did against ChukkerTV and Sebucan."
After a scoreless second chukker, Dutta Corp added two more goals on penalty conversions from 40 and 60 yards out by Timmy Dutta. Azzaro added a goal late in the chukker but Sebucan could not find the offensive power it had in last week's USPA Eastern Challenge win.
It was the first time this season father and son combinations Tim and Timmy Dutta and Piki and Lucas Diaz Alberdi competed as a team.
"I am very happy with the win," Dutta said. "Playing with my father, Lucas and Piki is a dream team. We played in Argentina and I am very happy we can play here.
"To win our first game when my father hasn't played in three months is great. He played outstanding today, I was really impressed. The horses played really well. That's what gave us the advantage and also knowing each other like a book. This team is special, it's family."
Tim Dutta, with only one practice game under his belt, played well in his first game in three months. Dutta has been busy with test events in Tryon, N.C. for the Sept. 11-23 World Equestrian Games at the Tryon International Equestrian Center.
"I have been very busy working, this is our busy time of the year with different projects," Dutta said. "The horses feel very fresh and felt very good. I was surprisingly fit enough to play six chukkers.
"This is really fun, two fathers playing with their two sons," Dutta said. "It can't get any better on a Friday afternoon. We have a system, we play hard. We don't need to talk, Piki knocks in and we start. We will have a lot of fun on Sunday, bring it on."
Last year Dutta Corp, an 11-goal team, won with Tim and Timmy Dutta, Piki Diaz Alberdi and Carlitos Gracida. The foursome led Deeridge (Pablo Dorignac, Grant Ganzi, Will Jacobs, Guille Aguero) from start-to-finish for a 14-8 victory.
In Friday's opening game, Newport and Grand Champions battled back and forth throughout the regulation six-chukker game. The lead changed hands six times
With Newport leading 6-5, Jeff Desich scored to tie the game. After Gracida broke up one scoring drive by Newport, Marc Ganzi came up with the game-winner in the final two minutes of the game to send Newport into the final.
Argentine 9-goaler Nacho Novillo Astrada, after arriving the day before from Argentina where he won a 28-goal tournament (31st Abierto De La Canada Handicap Tournament) with a 23-goal team and competed in a 20-goal tournament, made his spring debut. It was the first time Astrada played with the trio.
"The pace of the game was nice," Astrada said. "We played some greener horses. The whole point is to help those horses progress and to have fun.
"It was my first day," Astrada said. "I didn't know the horses. The pace will speed up when I get to know the horses. This was my first time with Gene and he played well. I have played with Marc and Grant separately but never the three of us together. This was a fun team and it was a lot of fun."
Astrada, who has competed around the world, enjoys competing at Grand Champions where he will play the remainder of the month. He will also play the summer season at its sister club Aspen Valley Polo Club.
"I love coming here, I really enjoy it," Astrada said. "It's a great atmosphere and great place for polo."
Marc Ganzi led Newport with a team-high four goals. Gene Goldstein and Grant Ganzi each added one goal. Newport started with a one-goal lead on handicap.
For Grand Champions, Jeff Desich scored a team-high four goals. Lalor and Gracida each had one goal.
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).
Sun Cup, Sunday, 10 a.m., Sun Festival Subsidiary Cup, Sebucan vs. Grand Champions, winner sits, ChukkerTV will play the last six; 11:30 a.m., Championship final, Dutta Corp vs. Newport.
May 11-13: The Spring Challenge Cup.
May 18-20: Polo Gear Invitational.
May 25-28: The Memorial