marcganzi-65-2016-5-101G1On the Audi Polo Team strategy: “I think we have a good advantage of being well organised here, with good fields, good horses; we have a great captain in Gonzalito – he organises the team quite well, and we have really good chemistry. When we build our teams we try to find guys that enjoy each other’s company and get along quite well. We spend a lot of time off the field together, whether at training or having dinner together. We try to build a team like a family. If you stay close, when it comes to the tough moments in a game, you know you can trust each other. I think that’s been our secret success. Understanding how to perform under pressure is about trust. That’s our secret to success: I think it’s a combination of trust, having a great captain and having a very good organisation.”

On Grand Champions Polo Club: “The idea from the beginning in 2008 was to create a place for the people could come and play relaxed polo in the spring and the fall. The vision was really to extend the Wellington season. There are great fields here, a lot of pros from the USA, and a lot of American pros live here, so there is a chance to give Americans more opportunities and more jobs. There is also a chance to give other sponsors that were coming up from the low goal to transition to the medium goal. Our vision was always to see that medium goal sponsors could transitioned into the high goal and we have to create access. If we don’t create that access point where people can come into the low goal then transitioned to the medium goal – US high goal dies. So, our vision was always to try to create an infrastructure or an ecosystem where team owners and patrons could keep moving up, do it in an affordable way and have a good time. Now, it’s a club that plays polo 8 months of the year. I think it’s one of the most active clubs in the USA today. The idea is to create a club that’s open: open access for kids, for beginners, for medium goal players, high goal players, in a relaxed and friendly environment.”

On Values: “It’s been fun. The business plan has changed a few times. If there’s one thing Melissa and I care about is the customer. We want people to come to our club and feel comfortable. We want them to feel like the conditions are safe, so we invest a lot of money in our fields. We want to make sure we have the best umpires, the best medics, we want people to feel like they are at home. We keep the attendances free, we do weekends barbecues for free, we want people to feel like they are part of a family. Take polo back 10 or 20 years ago when polo was more friendly and more accessible; I think that’s been the secret for our club.”

On the changes of Polo in Wellington: “We are in the process of purchasing Zacara farms, we have always had a good relationship with Lyndon and he’s made a decision to not play here permanently. We hope he comes back one day and we’ve told him he can come and play practices anytime he wants. He is a good guy and someone we’ve known for a long time. We really respected his commitment to what he built and he knows that we are going to keep it going and that we’re going to enjoy it. We had a situation where we had too many stables. It was a bit disorganised for us and now those kids had the chance to be very organised. In addition, we’re gonna move a good portion of the Grand Champions over there. We’re putting in 3 more fields, so we’ll have a total of 6 fields there. The idea is – at a time whene fields may be decreasing in Wellington – to increase the number of fields. And I also think it represents a trend that polo in Wellington is moving a bit south. Think where Zacara is, where Valiente is – this is really where polo is shifting to, where the high goal polo fields are going to be.”

On Polo in Aspen: “I grew up in the mountains of Colorado, so it’s really fun for me to go home in the summer and the weather there is amazing. There are a million things to do there in the summer. I feel like I am the Chamber of Commerce for Aspen, always explaining why it’s so great, but everyone should come to Aspen. Try one summer there and you will see what we see. There are so many outdoor activities, great restaurants, great weather, great polo. There has been polo in Aspen for almost 40 years. But it has always been a bit quiet and perhaps not that organised; that is what we are trying to accomplish. I think the polo is more organised now; we have rented another field, too. Jeff Hildebrand is building an amazing field out there, so we have 4 fields this summer. The goal over the next 3 years is to build another championship field. We increased the number of teams from 4 to 6 in the 14-goal. We also have a 5-goal coaching league and the polo school, and arena polo on Thursday nights, which is a lot of fun. There is something for everyone. There are so many people in Aspen excited about polo. It’s a lot like the Hamptons was 15 years ago. Our mission is to introduce the people of Aspen to polo, and make it very accessible for them. The whole mission, whether at Grand Champions or Aspen, is to let people know that polo is not closed to them. There’s such a misconception about polo. Everyone has this “Pretty Woman” idea in their mind about polo and it’s a horrible. Polo is actually quite casual, it’s about families, kids, good barbecues. Lining up the ball and playing with your friends, having a good time. And for me, as I get older, it’s about my polo crew – that’s what is most satisfying for me.”

On playing and winning the East Coast Open: “That was a fun experience, it was something that I really wanted to do. It was a trophy that was really important to my father. He was really excited to see another generation win that trophy. My hope is that my son, Melissa and Riley could be on that trophy, too. It’s something special to our family. We really have a lot of respect for Peter [Brant]; he called me and asked me to come and supported him, and I think that’s what polo is about. You need to support friends, the team owners need to stay together, support each other. It’s people like Peter Brant that made polo continue and made polo a success. We need to honour that. It was fun. I didn’t expect we would win, but we did. Miguel [Novillo Astrada] played incredibly, as did Nic [Roldan]. Juancito [Bollini] really grew up in that tournament. I was one of my best tournaments, I think. I was born in New York, so it was nice to go back there and win. We talked a lot about it. We’ll go back there soon.”

On Chukker TV: “It’s Melissa’s business. Melissa came up with the idea for live streaming and instant replay and the challenge system. She is very passionate about taking technology and making polo better and making it fair. I think it has come an incredible way in the last 2 years. This year we formed a partnership with the USPA for the high-goal. I think now the USPA it’s beginning to see the value of the live stream product, and how it can really connect to its membership, the brand, and extend the game to places it had never reached before. We continue to do Chukker TV in the low and medium goal; we did the ladies tournament, snow polo in Aspen. It’s going to continue to be a partnership. I don’t know what the future holds, but I think the USPA understands the value of it. The hope is that we can continue to invest together and continue to build awareness. Other Polo Associations have looked at it, and that’s really interesting. There is this real desire to extend polo. I think digital media is changing that, too. If you think about where the connectivity is and how millennials and kids look at content today, content has completely changed. Television will be a memory in 20 to 30 years. How we receive content is going to be through internet and wireless devices. For me, the content is all taylor-content, so viewer preferences is now more through the scenario focused content. Instead of getting 14 million viewers for a soccer match, you now get maybe a couple of million viewers, but all the soccer matches are on. I think Chukker TV is just the beginning of it. I think this content is what’s going make people excited about buying the shirts, about joining the USPA. Once again, it’s just another invitation to play polo; everything we do is with an eye towards inviting people to come and join us and play polo.”


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