Newport dominated opening day action in the Fall Plates Tournament Friday at Grand Champions Polo Club.
In round robin play, Newport (Gene Goldstein, Jason Crowder, Kris Kampsen, Juan Bollini) defeated Casablanca (Santos Bollini, Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Nic Roldan), 4-3, and two-time defending champion Sebucan (Pablo Pulido, Sugar Erskine, Pablo Spinacci, Brandon Phillips), 3-2. In the other three-chukker game, Casablanca knocked off Sebucan, 6-3.
The scores will carry over into Sunday’s championship final at 10 a.m.
“These round robins are all close and competitive, but nice and clean,” Juan Bollini said. “It was very good polo. We played very strong 18-goal polo today. Everybody wanted to win.
“I think anyone still has a chance on Sunday,” Bollini said. “Every game was competitive and I loved it. I think my team is the favorite. It’s going to be tougher on Sunday.”
In the opening game, the lead changed hands five times before Bollini connected on a long pass to Crowder who scored the game-winner with one touch with 15 seconds remaining in the game. Crowder and Ganzi shared scoring honors each with two goals. Bollini and Roldan each had one goal.
BRANDON PHILLIPS OF SEBUCAN ATTEMPTS TO HOOK GENE GOLDSTEIN OF NEWPORT IN MID-HIT.
In the second game, Casablanca jumped out to a 3-1 lead over Sebucan with two goals from Roldan and one from Ganzi. Sebucan never recovered. Santos Bollini added another goal for a 4-1 advantage after two chukkers and the teams tied 2-2 in the final chukker. Roldan finished with three goals.
In the third and final low scoring game, Sebucan led 1-0 after the opening chukker on Pulido’s goal. Kampsen tied the game at 1-1 in the second chukker before Erskine’s goal enabled Sebucan to regain the lead. The momentum swayed in the final chukker with Goldstein tying the game at 2-2 and Crowder scoring the game-winner at the 3:45 mark. Sebucan had scoring opportunities in the final minutes but couldn’t capitalize.
PABLO PULIDO OF SEBUCAN RIDES OFF JASON CROWDER OF NEWPORT.
Casablanca finished with nine total goals followed by Newport with seven and Sebucan with five.
Juan Bollini won bragging rights in the Bollini household after defeating both his sons, Juancito and Santos.
“I told my kids I was going to beat them today and they didn’t believe me,” Bollini said. “They kept saying, no way, no way.”
GRANT GANZI OF CASABLANCA STRETCHES OUT OF THE SADDLE FOR THE BALL WITH BRANDON PHILLIPS OF SEBUCAN DEFENDING.
The Fall Plates is the fifth of six medium-goal touraments in addition to 20-goal action during the season.
The winners of the first three 2019 tournaments at Grand Champions were: Sebucan (Santos Bollini, Pablo Pulido, Nic Roldan, Kris Kampsen), Fall Classic; Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, Kris Kampsen, Pablo Spinacci, Juan Bollini), Tackeria Invitational; and Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Brandon Phillips, Jason Crowder), US Trust Cup. The Polo Gear Challenge final, postponed by rain, is yet to be played.
PABLO SPINACCI OF SEBUCAN BATTLES JUANCITO BOLLINI OF CASABLANCA FOR THE BALL.
During the 2019 fall season, the nation’s largest polo club is hosting both medium and high goal polo featuring six medium goal tournaments and two 20-goal tournaments.
The fall season serves as a tuneup for the winter season for players and green horses. The winter season will feature the second season of the highly-successful 26-goal World Polo League at Grand Champions and Valiente Polo Farm with the best polo players in the world.
ALL EYES ON THE BALL WAITING FOR IT TO LAND.
The 2019 fall season is highlighted by the International Cup featuring Team USA against France; Legends of Polo Carlos Gracida Memorial, inaugural Wellington Open 20 and USPA National 20.
The well-organized fall tournaments attract players from all over the United States and world including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, England, France, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Uruguay, Switzerland, Nigeria and South Africa.
NIC ROLDAN OF CASABLANCA REACHES TO HOOK BRANDON PHILLIPS OF SEBUCAN.
Grand Champions had its finest fall season in club history last year. It was the only club in the nation to stage two USPA-sanctioned 20-goal fall tournaments and again is hosting 20-goal tournaments this season.
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.
PABLO PULIDO OF SEBUCAN STRETCHES TO HOOK NIC ROLDAN OF CASABLANCA.
Club owners Marc and Melissa Ganzi, both accomplished players, take pride in teaching and sharing the exciting sport of polo with anyone interested in learning. The husband and wife are coming off their most successful and historical summer season at Grand Champions’ sister club Aspen Valley Polo Club.
The fall league features: stick-and-ball sessions during the week; two tournament games every weekend; ambulance and 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. Food and refreshments are available for players and fans after the finals.
GRANT GANZI OF CASABLANCA DEFENDS JUAN BOLLINI OF NEWPORT.
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.
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, a stand-alone USPA club, operates in Wellington January through May and September through November. For more information on the Fall Leagues or Polo School contact Juan Bollini at 561-346-1099.
GENE GOLDSTEIN OF NEWPORT DRIVES DOWNFIELD AHEAD OF THE CHASE PACK.
PHOTOS BY GRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUB