The World Polo League Beach Polo Miami Beach, the world’s largest beach polo tournament, returns to South Beach this week.
Records crowds are expected to converge at Collins Park by the 22nd Street beach entrance to watch some of the world’s top players and record eight teams compete in the world-class event.
Team sponsors and rosters are:
Fiji: Sebastian Schneberger, 2, Sven Schneider, 3, Brandon Phillips, 6.
Flexjet: Melissa Ganzi, 1, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 8, Wes Finlayson, 4.
Italkraft: Diego Urrutia, 0, Pablo Spinacci, 7, Juan Bollini, 6.
Peroni: Sarah Siegel Magness, 0, Jesse Bray, 6, Jason Crowder, 7.
Setai: Rommy Gianni, 2, Juan Cruz Greguoli, 5, Pedro Soria, 6.
Speedart Motorsports: Marc Ganzi, 2, Nic Roldan, 8, Tito Gaudenzi, 3
U.S. Polo Assn.: Grant Ganzi, 3, Juancito Bollini, 4, Carlitos Gracida, 5.
World Polo League: TBA, Gussie Busch, 2, Kris Kampsen, 9.
Swiss polo visionary Reto Gaudenzi, the founder of the Snow Polo World Cup in St. Moritz and several other tournaments, created the Beach Polo World Cup in 2005, one year after beach polo was introduced in Dubai, and hosted the South Beach event through 2008.
Gaudenzi’s son, Tito Gaudenzi of Lifestyle Companies, resurrected the event last year successfully along with WPL co-founders Melissa and Marc Ganzi. Wellington-based Grand Champions is the host polo club.
“To see the difference in growth from Year One to Two is tremendous,” Gaudenzi said. “It’s a lot faster than anyone anticipated including ourselves. Here we are bringing polo to the people. It’s super important for the sport because it grows the audience and it showcases this amazing sport and horses.”
Gaudenzi is excited about several changes in this year’s event including the new World Polo League as title sponsor and moving the event from January to April.
“Our tent size has doubled and we are having an amazing polo field this year in terms of the ground since we are sharing the set-up with the Longines Global Champions Tour that was the week before,” Gaudenzi said.
“We are going to have full-speed games. We went to eight teams and they are from all over the world. We upped the handicap. It’s amazing to have a lot of players that were playing in the World Polo League come to finish the Florida season off on the beach. We are going to have amazing polo on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.”
Last year’s winner was La Martina (Riley Ganzi, Jesse Bray, Juan Bollini), 5-4.5 over Macallan (Sarah Siegel Magness, Marc Ganzi, Nic Roldan) in the La Martina Cup final. Ganzi scored the winning goal with 30 seconds left in the game. Roldan was MVP. Despite unexpected wind, cold and rain, the three days of action attracted good crowds.
The five-day schedule of events opens Wednesday with a practice game and tournament draw. On Thursday, the teams and sponsors will be introduced at Irma, a stylish tropical outdoor bar at W South Beach followed by a kickoff event at Bodega South Beach.
Game action gets underway Friday with four preliminary games set for 11:45 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:15 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Action continues Saturday with two subsidiary game semifinals and two WPL Beach Polo Miami Beach Cup semifinals.
The tournament wraps up Sunday with the Barbados Cup, Neiman Marcus Cup, Speedart Cup and WPL Beach Polo Miami Beach Cup final.
The Neiman Marcus Cup at 1:30 p.m. will feature a charity game between Give Back For Special Equestrians featuring Argentine super model Ines Rivero, former University of Miami and New York Giants player Jeremy Shockey and a pro polo player against the Museum of Polo Hall of Fame featuring WPLG Local 10 News Miami broadcaster Louis Aguirre, actor Sterling Jones and a pro polo player.
General admission to the competition and adjacent Retail Village is complimentary. Concessions will be available for purchase. VIP tickets are also available.
Gaudenzi’s Lifestyle Companies is one of the leaders in organizing top events around the world including Switzerland, Germany, France, Azerbaijan and Russia.
For more information on the tournament and accompanying events, visit www.miamipolocup.com.
Grand Champions and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique polo facility in Wellington with 120 stalls in five self-contained barns, exercise track, five climate-controlled tack rooms, vet room, staff quarters, guest house and three polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation including one field for stick-and-ball with plans to build more polo fields in the future.
Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm caters to men, women and youth polo players at all levels and ages. 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, created by Grand Champions President Melissa Ganzi when the club first opened in 2007.
The Polo School, a stand-alone USPA-sanctioned polo 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. Headed by Director of Operations Juan Bollini, The Polo School has nurtured several men and women polo players now playing in the pro and amateur ranks since its inception.