The Pedro Morrison Memorial, one of the oldest tournaments in the club’s 17-year history, gets under way Friday with a round robin tournament at Santa Rita Polo Farm.
By Sharon Robb
Aspen Valley, Casablanca and Amaro Polo, making its club debut, will play a preliminary round robin game at 4:45 p.m. The scores carry over into Sunday’s final that begins at 10 a.m.
On Saturday, there is also a Just For The Fun Of It 4-chukker game at 10:30 a.m.
The Pedro Morrison Memorial will be played on the flat. The old USPA rules for round robin play will be used.The winner of the first three chukkers will sit out on Sunday.
Rosters and sponsors are:
Aspen Valley (17): Govinda Quish, Sugar Erskine, 6, Pablo Dorignac, 5, Martin Jauregui, 6.
Casablanca (16): Santos Bollini, 2, Jason Crowder, 5, Grant Ganzi, 3, Tomacho Pieres, 6.
Amaro Polo (16): Scott Sorbaro, Leo Mandelbaum, 2, Kris Kampsen, 6, Nic Roldan, 8.
Sorbaro, Mandelbaum and Kampsen playing for Amaro Polo, will make their fall debut at Grand Champions.
In last year’s tournament, Barbarossa Leather won the Pedro Morrison Memorial at Santa Rita. Trailing by two goals going into the final chukker, Barbarossa Leather (Leo Mandelbaum, 2, Jason Crowder, 5, Juan Bollini, 3, Tommy Biddle, 5) rallied for a thrilling 4-3 victory over Casablanca (Nick Manifold, 3, Grant Ganzi, 3, Nic Roldan, 8, Juan Sanchez Elia, 5).
Mandelbaum was named Most Valuable Player. Mandelbaum and Crowder shared leading scorer honors with four goals each in two games.
The tournament is named in honor of Pedro Morrison. Born in Spain and University of Miami alum, Morrison died Dec. 11, 2003 in Wellington at age 49. He was an avid polo player, patron of The Sympatico Polo team and helped develop Wellington into a thriving community.
Morrison was active in several local and area charities and businesses and touched countless lives. He remains an inspiration. His work on behalf of the YMCA of the Palm Beaches was tireless. The tournament is played in honor of Morrison in a casual, laid-back and fun atmosphere, the way he liked it.
“This tournament is always very special,” Grand Champions Polo Club President Melissa Ganzi said. “When we bought our first barn at South 40 we played polo with Pedro at Palm Beach Polo. He had one of the most contagious laughs. I just think of Pedro laughing, smoking his cigars and sitting on the boards. It was one of my wonderful polo memories.”
The action is free and open to the public.
The nation’s largest and most innovative polo club celebrating its 17th anniversary, is hosting both medium and high goal tournaments this season.
Among the season highlights are the Nov. 7-15 USPA North American Cup and Nov. 11-21 USPA National 20-Goal Championship and Nov. 18 doubleheader featuring the Legends of Polo Carlos Gracida Memorial and International Cup featuring GCPC USA putting its undefeated 11-game win streak on the line against Spain. Grand Champions is the only club in the nation to stage two USPA-sanctioned 20-goal tournaments in the fall.
In last year’s International Cup, GCPC USA won its 11th consecutive title with a 6-5 win over Switzerland. Tomas Ruiz Guinazu, 39, a member of the 2022 Swiss National Team, was named Most Valuable Player after dominating the game.
Since 2012, the U.S. has beaten England, Chile, Mexico, South Africa, Uruguay, Brazil, Azerbaijan, France, Argentina twice and Switzerland in the annual battle for the coveted cup.
The fall medium goal schedule features six tournaments. In addition to this weekend’s Pedro Morrison Memorial, there is the Oct. 24-29 Banyan Cup, Nov. 1-5 Fall Plates and inaugural Nov. 8-12 Casablanca Fall Cup.
The well-organized fall tournaments attract players from all over the world including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay, San Salvador, Switzerland, Spain, England, France, India, Mexico, Azerbaijan, New Zealand, Nigeria, Uzbekistan, South Africa and United States.
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. It’s also a great opportunity for players and sponsors to prepare for the winter season highlighted by the 26-goal World Polo League, now entering its sixth season at Grand Champions.
The fall league features: stick-and-ball sessions during the week; two medium tournament games every weekend; ambulance and USPA 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.
Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique private 102-acre polo facility in Wellington with 212 stalls in nine self-contained barns, two exercise tracks, five climate-controlled tack rooms, vet room, staff quarters, guest house and four polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation, short work arena and stick-and-ball fields.
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.
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 11 fields during the fall season. Admission is free and open to the public.
Wellington-based ChukkerTV (CTV Sports) is live streaming the entire fall season worldwide. Grand Champions is the only USPA club that is live streaming all its games. ChukkerTV’s state-of-the art technology also features team challenges and instant replay which made their debut at Grand Champions in January, 2014.
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. 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.
Grand Champions Polo Club is located at 13444 Southfields Road in Wellington. For more information about the upcoming season visit www.gcpolo.com.