WELLINGTON, Fla., March 2, 2022—Grand Champions Polo Club will kick off one of its busiest months of the year with the ninth annual Great Futures Polo on Sunday.
By Sharon Robb
The nation’s largest and most innovative polo club has assembled top players, sponsors and horses for a good cause and day of fun polo that begins at noon with a private polo brunch served fieldside at noon followed by a polo match on Field One at 1:30 p.m. Guests are welcome to stay for the World Polo League game between Catamount and Brookshire at 4 p.m. on Field Two.
Tickets for the brunch, afternoon game and valet parking are $1,000 per person and can be purchased by calling Elena Corsano at 646-209-6965. There will also be a live auction. For more information about the event and sponsorship opportunities at platinum, gold, silver and bronze benefactor levels, please call Corsano or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nacho Figueras, the sport’s ambassador, heads the star-studded event that raises money for the Neil S. Hirsch Family Boys & Girls Club of Wellington, one of 17 Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County. The Club provides services for non-school hours and summer camp opportunities to nearly 1,200 boys and girls.
In addition to Figueras, other pro players competing alongside up-and-coming youth players are Nic Roldan and 10-goalers Gonzalito Pieres and Pablo MacDonough. The teams competing are Sebilion, Equuleus Polo Team, Grand Champions and Aspen Valley.
This year’s event is in memory of Hirsch, who passed away on June 24, 2021 at age 73 after courageously battling an illness for two years.
Hirsch, a member of the United States Polo Association since 1993, founded the Bridgehampton (N.Y.) Polo Club. Hirsch moved to Wellington in 1994 and the same year started the BlackWatch polo team, which he co-owned and played for competitively until 2009. Black Watch competed and qualified for tournament finals such as the 2005 C.V. Whitney Cup and 2004 USPA Gold Cup.
A successful businessman from a young age, Hirsch revolutionized the trading of government, fixed income and foreign exchange securities by creating technology to collect and disseminate information not otherwise available to traders at the time.
Starting Telerate when he was 21, Hirsch expanded the business into over 80 countries when he orchestrated its sale to Dow Jones in 1990. After two years on the Dow Jones Board of Directors and its management committee, Hirsch left and acquired a controlling interest in LoanNet, which he later sold.
The Neil S. Hirsch Family Boys and Girls Club was built in 2012 with the help of a $1.5 million donation from its namesake. The 22,500 square-foot facility, along Wellington Trace, was opened in 2013 and has provided thousands of kids with after-school programs.
Grand Champions president Melissa Ganzi and her husband Marc are thrilled to host the event for the ninth year. Each year the annual charity event has been embraced by the polo community.
“What Neil did for the community of Wellington was just above and beyond,” Melissa Ganzi said. “He took such pride in what he was doing in the community. The Boys and Girls club makes a difference in so many people’s lives.
“Neil Hirsch set a great example for our polo community by giving back to those who need us most here in Wellington and that’s our children,” Ganzi said. “The event is making an impact on club members, their families and our community.”
Founded in 1971, Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County is a not-for-profit youth development organization. The clubs provide more than a safe, fun and constructive alternative to being home alone, they offer a variety of award-winning developmental programs to help youth build skills, self-esteem and values during critical periods of growth. The 17 clubs throughout Palm Beach County serve more than 10,000 children ages 6 to 18. For more information, visit www.bgcpbc.org.
“Great Futures Polo unites the community each year in support of local children, who need us now more than ever,” Ganzi said. “Bringing the community together in support of local children is what this event is all about. Great Futures Polo is what makes that possible.”
In addition to several special events such as Great Futures Polo, Grand Champions is hosting several levels of competitive polo including the World Polo League, now in its fourth year and only 26-goal polo played outside of Argentina. It has attracted a large international field from around the world.
The world-class league will run through April 16. The World Polo League is preserving the highest level of polo and its rich tradition in the U.S.
With the All-Star Challenge and inaugural Tommy Hitchcock Legacy Memorial now complete, the WPL scheduled continues with the Founders Cup, which starts Thursday with a doubleheader at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. The remaining WPL tournaments are the Palm Beach Open, March 9-27; Triple Crown of Polo, March 23-April 16 and Beach Polo World Cup Miami Beach, April 29-May 1.
Grand Champions has also added Sunset Chukkers and Cocktails, presented by Seminole Casino Coconut Creek held Tuesday late afternoon on Field One for players and guests.
Grand Champions, the nation’s largest polo club, celebrating its 15th anniversary, is coming off its most successful fall season. Club officials hope to build off that success when it hosts 23 tournaments from January through April.
The high goal club tournaments feature the Sterling Cup, $100,000 World Cup and Santa Rita Abierto.
The 16-goal league play includes the Grand Champions Cup, Power Horse Invitational and Pedro Morrison Memorial.
The 12-goal league is currently underway with the Sieber Memorial Trophy; followed by the $50,000 National 12-Goal and Top Pony 12-Goal.
After January’s successful Aspen Valley Cup, the 8-goal tournament schedule continues with the Top Pony 8-Goal and Limited Edition 8-Goal.
The 6-goal schedule, after a successful Metropolitan Cup, continues with the Halo Polo Trophy and Madelon Bourdieu Memorial.
There is also the Polo School Grand Champions Women’s League, co-founded by Melissa Ganzi and Alina Carta, for all ages and playing ability held Wednesdays at 10 a.m. at Santa Rita Polo Farm.
Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique private 100-acre polo facility in Wellington with 120 stalls in several self-contained barns, exercise track, five climate-controlled tack rooms, vet room, staff quarters, guest house and polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation and stick-and-ball fields.
During fall, winter and spring seasons, Grand Champions Polo Club, the nation’s largest club with 13 well-manicured, world-class fields at GCPC and Santa Rita Polo Farm, hosts polo tournaments ranging from six to 26-goal including the 26-goal World Polo League in addition to special events.
The Polo School, now located at the former Pony Express facility, operates in Wellington January through May and September through November. For more information on the Fall Leagues or Polo School contact Director of Operations Juan Bollini at 561-346-1099 or General Manager Cale Newman at 561-876-2930.
Grand Champions Polo Club caters 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, the only polo club in the U.S. to offer the unique program.