WELLINGTON, Fla., November 11, 2021—The highly-anticipated high goal season gets under way Friday with the USPA North American Cup at Grand Champions Polo Club.
The single-elimination, four-team tournament opens with two semifinal games at 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Casablanca plays Newport in the morning game on Field One and Audi meets Seminole Casino Coconut Creek in the afternoon game at 3:30 p.m. on Field Two.
The winners advance Sunday into the championship game on Field 2. The losers will compete in a subsidiary final on Field 1. Start times are to be determined.
The North American Cup is the club‘s first of two 20-goal tournaments of the fall season with a rich tradition in history dating back to 1974. The second high goal tournament is the Nov. 16-21 USPA National 20 Goal.
The tournament has been a mainstay in American and Canadian polo for decades at the 16- to 20-goal level. The inaugural winner was Tulsa with Hall of Famers John T. Oxley and Billy Linfoot, Corky Linfoot and Jim MacGinley.
During the late 1990s and early 2000s Calgary Polo Club hosted the tournament with Millarville dominating the competition. The tournament has been held at Grand Champions since 2011 and in 2019 made its debut at Aspen Valley Polo Club before returning to Grand Champions last year.
Team rosters are:
Marc Ganzi, 2
Nic Roldan, 8
Juancito Bollini 4
Luis Escobar, 5
Grant Ganzi, 3
Kris Kampsen, 6
Jeff Hall, 6
Tommy Biddle, 5
Gene Goldstein, 1
Sugar Erskine, 6
Agustin Obregon, 6
Pablo Spinacci, 6
Seminole Casino Coconut Creek (18)
Melissa Ganzi, 0
Jason Crowder, 6
Santi Toccalino, 8
Juan Bollini, 4
In 2018 in a wild finish, Travieso rallied in the second half to win the coveted North American Cup. Trailing by five goals at halftime, Travieso (Tony Calle, Grant Ganzi, Juan Cruz Merlos, Pite Merlos) staged an incredible comeback for a stunning 14-13 overtime victory over Audi (Wes Finlayson, Brandon Phillips, Pablo Spinacci, Marc Ganzi) in one of the most exciting finishes in North American Cup history.
In 2019, Aspen-based La Karina (Brian Boyd, Carlitos Gracida, Sebastian Merlos, Kris Kampsen) led from start-to-finish to defeat McClure River Ranch (Hilario Figueras, 3, Pablo Spinacci, 6, Nic Roldan, Stewart Armstrong) with a stunning 15-12 victory to win its‘ 20-goal tournament debut at Aspen Valley Polo Club. It was the first USPA 20-goal tournament ever played in the Rocky Mountains.
In 2020, Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, Henry Porter, Juancito Bollini, Nic Roldan)defeated Newport (Gene Goldstein, Sugar Erskine, Michel Dorignac, Juan Bollini), 14-9, at Grand Champions.
The highlight of the fall season is the Nov. 27 doubleheader with the Carlos Gracida Memorial Legends of Polo and 10th annual International Cup. Sponsorship packages are available.
Santa Rita Polo Farm has hosted four of five medium goal tournaments. Seminole Casino Coconut Creek won the season-opening Fall Classic; La Indiana won the Tackeria Invitational; Zahedi Chogan won the Fall Plates and Audi won the John T. Oxley Memorial Tournament.
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 several 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 13 well-manicured, world-class fields at GCPC and Santa Rita Polo Farm, hosts polo tournaments ranging from six to 26-goal including the 26-goal World Polo League in addition to special events.
During the winter season, Grand Champions and Santa Rita will host 23 tournaments from Jan. 15 to April 15.
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. Scholarships are available. The Polo School operates in Wellington January through May and September through November. For more information on the Fall Leagues or Polo School contact Director of Operations Juan Bollini at 561-346-1099.
The entire fall season is being live-streamed on Wellington-based ChukkerTV, leaders in polo broadcasting with cutting-edge technology including 4K TV currently making its‘ debut. ChukkerTV also features team challenges and instant replay which made their debut at Grand Champions in January, 2014.
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 only polo club in the U.S. to offer the unique program.
By Sharon Robb
Photos by Candace Ferreira
Grand Champions Polo Club 2021 USPA North American Cup Schedule
10:30 a.m. Casablanca vs Newport GCPC Field 1
3:30 p.m. Audi vs Seminole Casino Coconut Creek GCPC Field 2
Subsidiary Final GCPC Field 1
USPA North American Cup Final GCPC Field 2