Arianna Delin, Sharon Robb for Grand Champions Polo Club
Postage Stamp Farm rallied in the final two chukkers to win the USPA Fall Classic, its second tournament victory of the fall season Sunday at Grand Champions Polo Club.
Making its third appearance in a championship final, Postage Stamp Farm broke open a close game for a thrilling 9-7 victory over Dutta Corp. in front of a good crowd and worldwide ChukkerTV audience.
Canadian Brandon Phillips was named Most Valuable Player after scoring a game-high three goals and playing well defensively with his ball-hawking plays.
Pims, a 6-year-old gray mare, ridden and owned by Timmy Dutta, was named Best Playing Pony.
Postage Stamp Farm, with a lineup of Annabelle Gundlach, Brandon Phillips, Guille Aguero and Leo Mandelbaum won the season-opening Tackeria Invitational and finished runner-up in the US Trust Cup with the same foursome.
In Postage Stamp Farm’s third tournament appearance it was Gundlach, Mandelbaum, Phillips and new teammate Julio Ezcurra against Timmy Dutta, JJ Celis, Carlitos Gracida and Aguero in a defensive battle.
“I am overjoyed, it’s been amazing,” said Gundlach, enjoying her first competitive year of polo.
Postage Stamp Farm shut out Dutta Corp. in the first, third and fifth chukkers but was unable to get its offense untracked in the first half.
“The first chukker we played really, really well and played a strong defense,” Gundlach said. “Obviously, they did, too, since it was a scoreless chukker. Then they got the momentum in the second chukker.
“It felt like we didn’t capitalize on a number of plays that we could have, whether it was mishits or slowing up waiting for the team, it just didn’t work,” Gundlach said.
Postage Stamp Farm started off with a 3-0 lead on handicap but couldn’t build on its lead during a scoreless opening chukker. In the second chukker, Dutta Corp. worked its way out of a hole with a 40-yard penalty shot from Gracida and goals from Celis and Aguero.
The score was tied two more times (4-4 and 5-5) before Postage Stamp Farm found its offensive spark. Gundlach and Phillips, the team’s captain, gave Postage Stamp Farm the lead which they never relinquished.
“In the final two chukkers we really came alive again and we pulled it off,” Gundlach said.
Gundlach played well against Dutta, 14, a young up-and-coming player. She had watched game films of her team’s loss in the final to US Trust and realized she had to play a bigger role for her team.
“After I watched that game I went to Brandon and told him I either quit or we come up with a new program,” Gundlach said. “I don’t want to be an embarrassment on the team or just have the best seat in the house. That’s not why I am here. I don’t have ten years to get good at this. So now Brandon doesn’t let me get away with anything which I think is good. I need to get beat up a little bit.”
Gundlach was happy with Phillips’ selection as Most Valuable Player. The Canadian is one of the sport’s most consistent and talented players and teachers.
“Brandon rocks,” Gundlach said. “He is a machine. I think he is an optimist. At the end of the day he is the captain and that kind of spills over.”
Mandelbaum added two goals and Gundlach scored one for Postage Stamp Farm. Dutta, Gracida and Aguero each scored two goals for Dutta Corp. Celis added one goal.
ChukkerTV, leaders in polo broadcasting, is live streaming the entire fall schedule worldwide with entertaining polo broadcasters Toby Wayman and Dale Schwetz.
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 USPA Fall Classic was the third of eight fall tournaments. The nine-year-old club is hosting six medium goal and two 20-goal tournaments.
Grand Champions is one of only four clubs in the nation to stage 20-goal tournaments. The club will host the Nov. 1-15 USPA North American Cup and Nov. 11-22 USPA National 20-Goal tournaments.
The medium goal tournaments are this weekend’s USPA Kay Colee Memorial; Oct. 27-Nov. 1 Pedro Morrison Memorial and Nov. 3-8 USPA Fall Plates.
The schedule also features a world-class doubleheader on November 28th featuring the fourth annual International Cup which has become a holiday weekend tradition marking the end of the fall season.
Team USA, which has won the first three International Cups against England, Chile and Mexico, will host South Africa in the featured game. This year’s U.S. team features Marc Ganzi, Jeff Hall, Julio Arellano and Nic Roldan. South Africa’s lineup is Selby Williamson, Chris MacKenzie, Gareth Evans and Tom de Bruin.
Carlitos Gracida of Dutta Corp hits downfield with teammate Timmy Dutta defending Brandon Phillips. Photo by Alex Pacheco
In the first game of the doubleheader, the legacy of polo great Carlos Gracida continues with the Carlos Gracida Memorial Legends of Polo game, featuring some of the sport’s greats.
Grand Champions is one of the busiest and most innovative clubs in North America catering to men, women and youth polo players at all playing ability levels.
Grand Champions, with five well-manicured fields and turnkey facility, expects to have its finest fall season in the nine-year history of the club.
For those interested in playing, the club’s expert staff can customize a complete playing experience including horses, pros and certified umpires in addition to lessons and practice sessions.
The Polo School, a 501c3 organization, is dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grass roots youth. Its mission is to provide individuals opportunities in polo. The Polo School operates in Wellington January through June and September through November.
Timmy Dutta and his Best Playing Pony Pims, a 6-year-old gray mare, and awards presenter Marc Ganzi. Photo by Alex Pacheco
2015 FALL SCHEDULE
Friday-Sunday: USPA Kay Colee Memorial; Oct. 27-Nov. 1: Pedro Morrison Memorial; Nov. 1-15: USPA North American 20-Goal Cup; Nov. 3-8, USPA Fall Plates; Nov. 11-22: USPA National 20-Goal Tournament; Nov. 28: Carlos Gracida Legends of Polo Memorial and International Cup, Team USA vs. South Africa.