WELLINGTON, March 6, 2023—Brookfield Farm rallied in the final chukker to capture the Halo Polo Trophy Sunday at Santa Rita Polo Farm.
Brookfield Farm (Sophia Doble, -1, Facundo Frayssinet, 2, Grant Ganzi, 3, Alex Webb, 2) edged Santa Rita (Artemio Figueras, 0, Fran Spinacci, 0, Florencio Lanusse, -1, Pablo Spinacci, 4), 6-5.5.
Virginia-based Brookfield Farm finished the 6-goal league undefeated with a 4-0 record, defeating Polo School, 3-1, Orea Polo, 3-2 and Santa Rita, 7-5.5 in their first meeting.
Grant Ganzi, 24, swept Most Valuable Player after scoring five goals including the game-winner and Best Playing Pony honors for Ocasion.
After missing its first two goal attempts, Santa Rita controlled the game early and jumped out to a 3.5-0 lead early behind father and son duo Pablo and Fran Spinacci in the second chukker.
Brookfield Farm started clawing its way back slowly late in the second chukker taking advantage of Santa Rita penalties and Ganzi‘s two penalty conversions to trail, 3.5-2 going into the half.
„It took us too long to get going,“ Ganzi said. „I wanted to play the same way we played them the other day, but they had (substitute) Artemio, who is playing really well at the moment and changed the dynamic. We had to change the throw-ins a little bit, set plays had to change. We had to play a little more simple. We needed to be a little more consistent.“
Santa Rita maintained its leads, 3.5-3, 4.5-3, 4.5-4, 5.5-4 and 5.5-5 until the final minute of the game when Santa Rita fouled with 43 seconds left. Ganzi converted the 30-yard penalty to take the lead and clinch the win. Brookfield Farm then won the throw-in and ran out the final 30 seconds.
„Once we settled in and started playing the way we should have played we played well,“ Ganzi said. „It was a tough game. We were very lucky to win. It was tough to play this team twice in a row. They probably deserved to win more than we did today. The other day we played them a little better and fouled less.“
Ganzi has been honing his polo skills playing every level of polo including six goal this season. His Casablanca team won the 26-goal WPL season-opening tournament All-Star Challenge and currently competing in the Founders Cup.
„For me it‘s so different, I love both levels,“ Ganzi said. „I love being able to do both at the same time. The biggest difference for me is I play back and captaining the team in the 6-goal.
„In the 26, I am like a sponge. I am listening to everything I can hear. I am playing with three amazing guys and one of the best players in the world right now. The difference is the positioning on the field and the mentality. It‘s good to have that difference and play all levels of polo.“
In addition to Ganzi‘s five goals, Webb added a goal. Pablo Spinacci led Santa Rita with two goals. Figueras, Lanusse and Fran Spinacci each had one goal. The team picked up .5 on handicap.
In last year‘s final, Orea Polo (Petra Sobotova, -1, Finn Secunda, 0, Matias Busquet, 4/Jake Klentner, 1, Justin Daniels, 2) defeated Casimiro (Steve Cox, 0, Antonio Aguerre, 0, Santos Bollini, 2, Grant Ganzi, 3), 7-2.
Grand Champions, the nation‘s largest polo club celebrating its 16th anniversary, and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique private 102-acre polo facility in Wellington with 212 stalls in nine self-contained barns, two tracks, five climate-controlled tack rooms, vet room, staff quarters, guest house and four polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation and short work arena. The club has 13 well-manicured fields including nine world-class fields at GCPC and four at Santa Rita.
During the winter polo season, Grand Champions, the nation‘s largest and most innovative USPA-sanctioned polo club, nestled in the heart of the world‘s winter equestrian capital, is hosting tournaments: 6, 8, 12, 20, and 26-goal leagues, WCT Finals, Polo School Ladies League weekly play and 26-goal World Polo League tournaments at both Grand Champions and Santa Rita.
Grand Champions tournaments attract a large international field of players from all corners of the world including Argentina, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Canada, Ecuador, Brazil, Switzerland, France, England, Germany, Uruguay, Azerbaijan, South Africa, Venezuela, Chile, and England.
Season highlights for 2023 are the Sieber Memorial, currently underway; $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament, John T. Oxley Memorial, WCT Finals and $100,000 World Cup Tournament, a unique 0-40-goal, winner-take-all single-elimination tournament and special events including World Polo League Polo Pride, Sunset Chukkers & Cocktails and Great Futures Polo Day featuring Celebrity Polo.
The biggest highlight of the season is the fifth season of the World Polo League currently underway with the Founders Cup. The nation‘s only 26-goal league features some of the world‘s top players including 10-goaler Pablo MacDonough and team sponsors.
The winter season is being live-streamed locally and worldwide on Wellington-based ChukkerTV (CTV Sports).
Grand Champions Polo Club 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 Polo School, now located at the former Pony Express facility, operates in Wellington January through May and September through November. The stand-alone USPA-sanctioned polo club, is thriving. It is dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grass roots youth. Its mission is to provide individuals opportunities in polo at every economic and ability level. November. The Polo School has nurtured several junior, men and women polo players now playing in the pro and amateur ranks since its inception.
For more information on leagues or Polo School contact Director of Operations Juan Bollini at 561-346-1099 or Cale Newman at 561-876-2930.
By Sharon Robb
Photos by Candace Ferreira