WELLINGTON, Fla.—The fifth of six medium goal tournaments of the fall season begins Friday at Santa Rita Polo Farm.
The Fall Plates begin with a preliminary round robin at 3:30 p.m. The scores carry over into Sunday‘s final at 10 a.m. The four-chukker Just For The Fun It game is Saturday at 10:30 a.m.
The old USPA rules for round robin play will be used for the Fall Plates. The game will be played on the flat. The winner of the first three chukkers will sit on Sunday.
Rosters for the tournament are:
Victory Polo: Becky Schmeits, Govinda Quish, Martin Jauregui, 6, Patricio (Tuco) Paz, 3.
Amaro: Scott Sorbaro, Kevin Schmeits, Pablo Dorignac, 4, Pedro Gutierrez, 5.
La Fe/Dazos: David Farache, Santos Bollini, 2, Louis Devaleix, 2, Sugar Erskine, 6.
The best news for polo players, trainers, fans and horses will have an extra hour to sleep in before heading out for the games. Daylight Saving Time ends 2 a.m. on Sunday when the clock will „fall back“ and now the morning commute will have more daylight.
In last year‘s Fall Plates Tournament, Sebucan (Jason Crowder, 5, Pablo Pulido, 2, Sugar Erskine, 6, Leo Mandelbaum, 2) scored the winning goal with 40 seconds left to defeat NetJets (Larry Austin, 0, Juan Sanchez Elia, 5, Nic Roldan, 8, Marc Ganzi, 1), 6-5. It was Sebucan‘s first win of the season. Mandelbaum scored five goals and was named MVP.
The nation‘s largest and most innovative polo club celebrating its 17th anniversary, is hosting both medium and high goal tournaments this season. The action is free (with the exception of special events) and open to the public.
Among the season highlights are the Nov. 7-15 USPA North American Cup and Nov. 11-21 USPA National 20-Goal Championship and Nov. 18 doubleheader featuring the Legends of Polo Carlos Gracida Memorial and International Cup featuring GCPC USA putting its undefeated 11-game win streak on the line against Spain.
In last year‘s International Cup, GCPC USA won its 11th consecutive title with a 6-5 win over Switzerland. Tomas Ruiz Guinazu, 39, a member of the 2022 Swiss National Team, was named Most Valuable Player after dominating the game.
Since 2012, the U.S. has beaten England, Chile, Mexico, South Africa, Uruguay, Brazil, Azerbaijan, France, Argentina twice and Switzerland in the annual battle for the coveted cup.
The fall medium goal schedule features six tournaments. In addition to this weekend‘s Fall Plates, one medium goal tournament remains, Nov. 8-12 Casablanca Fall Cup.
Winners of the first four medium goal tournaments are Fall Classic, Maltese Falcons (Melissa Ganzi, Jason Crowder, 5, Juan Bollini, 3, Nic Roldan, 8); Tackeria Invitational, Aspen Valley (Govinda Quish, Jason Crowder, 5, Sugar Erskine, 6, Nic Roldan, 8); and Pedro Morrison Memorial, Amaro (Scott Sorbaro, 0, Louis Devaleix, 1, Nic Roldan, 8, Kris Kampsen, 6). Banyan Cup, La Fe (Sebastian Mandelbaum, -1/Leo Mandelbaum, 2, Nic Roldan, 8, Grant Ganzi, 3, Louis Devaleix, 2) by one net goal in a round robin over Victory I (Kevin Schmeits, 0, Santos Bollini, 2, Martin Jauregui, 6, Sugar Erskine, 6) that finished with 0 net goal.
The well-organized fall tournaments attract players from all over the world including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay, San Salvador, Switzerland, Spain, England, France, India, Mexico, Azerbaijan, New Zealand, Nigeria, Uzbekistan, South Africa and United States.
The Grand Champions Fall Invitational League is geared toward improving a player‘s polo skills at every level. Roster lineups change from tournament to tournament with evenly-matched teams featuring pro and amateur players. It‘s also a great opportunity for players and sponsors to prepare for the winter season highlighted by the 26-goal World Polo League, now entering its sixth season at Grand Champions.
The fall league features: stick-and-ball sessions during the week; two medium tournament games every weekend; ambulance and USPA umpires for all tournament games; world-class polo fields; club-sponsored social events every weekend for all players; and top-of-the-line trophies for all teams every weekend.
Grand Champions Polo Club 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 exercise tracks, five climate-controlled tack rooms, vet room, staff quarters, guest house and four polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation, short work arena and stick-and-ball fields.
Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm cater 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 at the turnkey facility.
Grand Champions and Santa Rita Polo Farm hosts polo tournaments ranging from six to 26-goal in addition to special events at its well-manicured 11 fields during the fall season. Admission is free and open to the public.
Wellington-based ChukkerTV (CTV Sports) is live streaming the entire fall season worldwide. Grand Champions is the only USPA club that is live streaming all its games. ChukkerTV‘s state-of-the art technology also features team challenges and instant replay which made their debut at Grand Champions in January, 2014.
The Polo School, a 501c3 organization and stand-alone USPA club, 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. The Polo School operates in Wellington January through June and October through November. For more information on the Fall Leagues or Polo School contact Juan Bollini at 561-346-1099 or Cale Newman at 561-876-2930.
Grand Champions Polo Club is located at 13444 Southfields Road in Wellington. For more information about the upcoming season visit www.gcpolo.com.
By Sharon Robb
Photos by Candace Ferreira
2023 Fall Plates Schedule
3:30 p.m. Victory Polo vs Amaro vs La Fe/Dazos at Santa Rita Polo Farm
10:30 a.m. Just For The Fun Of It
10 a.m. Fall Plates Final at Santa Rita Polo Farm