In one of the most exciting finals of the spring season, Newport rallied for a stunning 18-16 upset victory over Dutta Corp to capture the season-ending Memorial Cup Sunday at Grand Champions Polo Club.
Trailing after four chukkers, Newport’s foursome of Gene Goldstein, Grant Ganzi, Pablo Dorignac and Julio Arellano outscored Dutta Corp (Carlitos Gracida, Timmy Dutta, Piki Diaz Alberdi, Tim Dutta), 7-2, in the last two chukkers.
The win avenged last weekend’s 11-7 Newport loss to Dutta Corp in the Polo Gear Challenge Cup final. It was also Newport’s first tournament win of the spring season.
“Dutta Corp was definitely the team of the spring and it made us raise our level to be able to come and play them and win,” said 8-goaler Julio Arellano. “Things went our way and I am very happy we could pull one out.”
The victory ended Dutta Corp’s hopes of becoming the first four-time tournament winner in the club’s spring season history.
Dutta Corp was the winningest team during the six-week season with three tournament titles and two subsidiary tournament wins. Dutta Corp and Travieso are tied with three wins in a single season.
“This was a fun team,” said Newport’s Gene Goldstein. “It was the first time I got to play with Pablo. He put his head down and played really well. Grant had a great game, Julio played well. No one could beat the Duttas this season and we didn’t beat them until the last two minutes. It’s a nice to win your last game of the season and great way to finish up.”
Lynn University freshman Grant Ganzi, who turns 19 on June 1, was named Most Valuable Player. The up-and-coming player turned in one of his finest career performances with a game-high nine goals, including six penalty conversions.
“Great was perfect six-for-six with his penalty-two shots which is great and he scored some great goals dribbling them in between players,” Arellano said. “He was just at the right place. He had a fabulous day.”
Ganzi scored four goals during Newport’s 7-2 run including a goal from the field to give his team a 17-16 lead with 2:58 left in the game. Arellano’s penalty-four conversion iced the win.
“It was a great way to end the season,” Ganzi said. “We all fought really hard and all played really well as a team.
“It’s a huge win,” Ganzi said. “They beat Pablo and I a few weeks ago and they really beat us. We really wanted this one. We played well. Gene was coming off a hot game on Fridayand Julio wanted it, too. We all wanted to take down Dutta Corp. It was a tough team to beat and we were up for the task. It was good to end it with a win in the best tournament of the season.”
Diamante, a 6-year-old Chestnut mare ridden by Timmy Dutta in the second and fifth chukkers and bred by Carlitos Gracida, was selected Best Playing Pony.
Also scoring for Newport, Dorignac had five goals, scored a team-high eight goals for Dutta Corp and TimmyArellano scored three and Goldstein added one. GracidaDutta added two goals.
“I am super happy we won,” said Arellano, now headed to Aiken, S.C. and Big Horn, Wyoming for the summer. “I love coming and playing with Gene in the spring. He is one of my favorite guys to play with.
“We played last Sunday against this team and we had a bad game plan, they kicked our butt pretty bad,” Arellano said. “It gave us a week to think about what we could do differently. It took a little bit of luck, too. Things went our way.”
Playing its second season together, 11-goal Dutta Corp started off with a 5-0 lead on handicap and added to its lead, 6-1 and 7-1 in the opening chukker before Newport started reeling them in.
Trailing 7-1 with 1:29 left in the first chukker, Ganzi converted a penalty-two to start Newport’s five-goal run to trail by only 7-6 with 1:20 left in the second chukker. From then on, it was anyone’s game with no more than three goals separating the teams for the remainder of the game.
“How did we beat Dutta is a mystery of life question,” Ganzi said. “For one, we didn’t miss any penalty two’s, I made all my penalty two’s which was important. These guys don’t make errors, so you can’t make errors. We didn’t want them breaking any record against us.
“I am still in awe we beat these guys, they are a really good team,” Ganzi said. “Hats off to them. It was a fast-paced game and they made it a lot of fun. It was a fun game for everyone, the players and fans.”
Ganzi was able to play eight horses including Carnivale in the final chukker.
“I had a little more horses today and that always helps,” Ganzi said. “I was able to bring back the good ones. I got on my last chukker horse and said ‘give me one more,’ and he gave it to me. He’s a really good horse and gave me his all.”
In the subsidiary game, The Polo School (Jeff Desich, Lucas Lalor, Brandon Phillips, Guille Aguero) spoiledthe spring debut of Intercontinental (Marc Ganzi, Alejandro Poma, Kris Kampsen, Jason Crowder) with an exciting 11-9 victory.
Down 6-4 at the half, The Polo School rallied behind Aguero and Phillips’ hot mallets while shutting out Intercontinental in the fourth and fifth chukkers.
Phillips’ goal early in the fifth chukker tied the game at 6-6. It was the first of four consecutive Polo School goals before Intercontinental got its offense untracked but squandered away two opportunities to win.
Kampsen’s back-to-back goals brought Intercontinental to within one goal, 10-9, but Aguero’s insurance goal on a back shot sealed the win as time ran out.
The Polo School got balanced scoring. Aguero led with four goals, Phillips had three and Desich and Lalor each had two goals. Poma led Intercontinental with four goals and Ganzi added three.
The final day of the season featured classical tenor Ingvar Estrada singing the National Anthem; award-winning chef Shannon Atkins providing an array of finger foods including parmesan meatballs, chicken and waffles, shredded pork sliders, empanadas and fresh fruit, vegetables and mojitos; and special polo-themed patriotic Memorial Day cake provided by Shelly Nuss of Cakes and Cakes.
The Memorial Cup was sixth and final medium-goal tournament of Grand Champions’ most successful spring season on the heels of the best winter season in club history that featured the $100,000 World Cup, Sterling Cup and $50,000 National 12-Goal.
Grand Champions attracted 72 teams during the winter season and another 18 teams during the spring season.
“We are very proud what we did during the winter and spring seasons, the polo was incredible,” said Polo School Director, commentator and former 8-goaler Juan Bollini. “The level of polo and players that played at Grand Champions was great. Every single player in the world played here this season from Adolfo Cambiaso and the Cambiaso kids to Gonzalito Pieres.
“The good thing at Grand Champions was to have the opportunity of polo for everyone. We had the Polo School to 26 goal. It was nice to see Will Jacobs playing the 26-goal and then Rich and Jeff Desich playing the 14-goal and Memorial Cup. Marc and Melissa Ganzi have made polo available for everyone. They are making polo like it was in the 1980s and 1990s. Good, clean polo and everyone enjoying it.”
The first five tournament winners were: Dutta Corp (Carlitos Gracida, Timmy Dutta, Piki Diaz Alberdi, Tim Dutta) in the Santa Rita Abierto Open; Clearwater (Chip Campbell, Michael Bickford, Ezequiel Fernandez, Jeff Hall) in the USPA Eastern Challenge; Dutta Corp in the USPA Sun Cup and Audi (Marc Ganzi, Guille Aguero, Lucas Lalor, Pablo Dorignac) in the Spring Challenge Cup and Dutta Corp in the Polo Gear Challenge Cup.
During the Grand Champions’ spring season, amateur polo players got the chance to play with and against some of the world’s top professional polo players while improving their polo skills and having fun while doing it.
During the fall, winter and spring seasons, Grand Champions hosts polo tournaments ranging from six to 26-goal in addition to special events at its eleven well-manicured fields.
The spring season was live-streamed on Wellington-based ChukkerTV, leaders in polo broadcasting.