NetJets Capture Tackeria Invitational; Tommy Biddle Sweeps MVP, BPP Honors

NetJets won its second tournament of the fall season Sunday at windswept Santa Rita Polo Farm.

By Sharon Robb

NetJets (Larry Austin, 0, Leo Mandelbaum, 2, Juan Sanchez Elia, 5, Tommy Biddle, 5) held off Travieso (Teo Calle, 1, Santos Bollini, 2, Tony Calle, 3, Sugar Erskine, 6) in the final chukker for a thrilling 10-9 victory.

2022 Hall of Famer Tommy Biddle was named Most Valuable Player after scoring a team-high four goals and playing well from the back to win the club’s oldest tournament. Last year Biddle was runner-up with the Roxbury Raiders.

Biddle’s 13-year-old mare Maleficent, played in the sixth chukker, was Best Playing Pony. “She is a super big mare and can run a lot,” Biddle said. “She has won a couple best ponies and is a fun mare to play.”

Born into a polo family, Biddle grew up in Aiken, S.C. At 12 he played his first polo game and turned pro at 18. Once called the “quickest big man to ever play the sport,” Biddle has achieved success in both outdoor and arena polo.

Biddle is only the fourth player in arena history to be rated at 10 goals while reaching 8 goals in outdoor polo at the same time. He has won the U.S. Open, four Monty Waterbury titles, four Townsend Cups and U.S. Open Arena Polo Championship.

As his team’s field general on Sunday, he was a key to keeping his team in the lead. NetJets never faltered leading all six chukkers and shut out Travieso in the fourth chukker. After a warmup game on Friday, NetJets turned it up a notch for the final.

“We had a great time,” Biddle said. “I am happy for Larry. I played with and against Larry a lot in New York and he took about 10 years off. It’s good that he is back playing again. He’s having a great fall.”

Travieso rallied in the final chukker, outscoring NetJets 4-2, but ran out of time.

“We played them on Friday and we did not have a good day and they played great,” Biddle said. “I think they were a little overconfident going in. I told our guys don’t worry come Sunday we’ll be ready to go.”

In addition to Biddle’s four goals including a 60-yard penalty conversion, Austin had three goals, Mandelbaum had two and Sanchez Elia added one. Biddle is coming off back issues. “It’s getting better and better,” he said. “Once you get playing adrenaline is the best drug.

“I am very fortunate to work for the Ganzis,” Biddle said. “I come mounted all the time. I’m not trying to bring any young horses around. I’m just trying to be the best I can for them when I go on the field. They have been awesome for me.”

Biddle plans on playing this week’s USPA National 20 Goal that begins Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. and the season-finale Banyan Final with his New York sponsor Josh Silverman.

For Travieso, Erskine had a team-high four goals. Tony Calle and Bollini each had two goals and Teo Calle had one.

In their first tournament win, NetJets (Jason Crowder, 5, Leo Mandelbaum, 2, Larry Austin, 0, Nic Roldan, 8) rallied to win the Fall Classic with an 8-6 win over Sebucan (Nick Manifold, 2, Grant Ganzi, 3, Juan Sanchez Elia, 5, Tommy Biddle, 5). Austin was MVP.

The Tackeria Invitational is the fourth of five medium goal tournaments of the season. The Tackeria Invitational has a special place in club history as the inaugural tournament when the club first opened in 2007.

Tackeria founder in 1975 and USPA president Tony Coppola watched the game from the sidelines and presented the trophies during the post-game ceremonies that included a big kiss from Biddle.

“I have known Tony for 40 years,” Biddle said. “He has been great. I love playing with his son Matt, he is one of my favorite players to play with. We have always been a very close family.”

So far fall season action has been fun and thrilling. In the rain-delayed season-opener on Monday, Barbarossa Leather (Leo Mandelbaum, 2, Jason Crowder, 5, Juan Bollini, 3, Tommy Biddle, 5) rallied for a 4-3 victory over Casablanca (Nick Manifold, 3, Grant Ganzi, 3, Nic Roldan, 8, Juan Sanchez Elia, 5). Mandelbaum was MVP and Rose Quartz, played by Ganzi, was BPP.

NetJets (Jason Crowder, 5, Leo Mandelbaum, 2, Larry Austin, 0, Nic Roldan, 8) rallied to win the Fall Classic with an 8-6 win over Sebucan (Nick Manifold, 2, Grant Ganzi, 3, Juan Sanchez Elia, 5, Tommy Biddle, 5). Austin was MVP and Little Nell, played by Ganzi was BPP.

Sebucan (Jason Crowder, 5, Pablo Pulido, 2, Sugar Erskine, 6, Leo Mandelbaum, 2) won the Fall Plates in the final 40 seconds with a 6-5 victory over NetJets (Larry Austin, 0, Juan Sanchez Elia, 5, Nic Roldan, 8, Marc Ganzi, 1). Mandelbaum earned his second MVP honor.

One of the nation’s busiest and innovative polo clubs celebrating its 16th anniversary, is hosting both medium goal and high goal tournaments. Among the highlights of the season are this week’s USPA National 20-Goal Championship and Nov. 12 doubleheader featuring the Legends of Polo Carlos Gracida Memorial and International Cup. This year the GCPC-USA team will put its 10-year winning streak on the line against Switzerland.

The final fall medium goal tournament is the Nov. 14-20 Banyan Final.

Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique private 100-acre polo facility in Wellington with more than 150 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.

Wellington-based ChukkerTV is live streaming the entire fall season. ChukkerTV’s state-of-the art technology features team challenges and instant replay which made their debut at Grand Champions in January, 2014.

Grand Champions and Santa Rita Polo Farm hosts polo tournaments ranging from six to 26-goal in addition to special events at its well-manicured fields during the fall, winter and spring seasons.

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 based at the former Pony Express property, 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. The Polo School operates in Wellington January through June and October through November. For more information on the Fall Leagues or Polo School contact Juan Bollini at 561-346-1099 or Cale Newman at 561-876-2930.


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