WELLINGTON, Fl., April 29-–Newport and Santa Rita advanced into the championship final of the Sun Cup Sunday at Grand Champions Polo Club.
By Sharon Robb
Santa Rita (Melissa Ganzi, 0, Riley Ganzi, 0, Mariano Uranga, 6, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 7) knocked off Casablanca (Larry Austin, 0, Grant Ganzi, 3, Nic Roldan, 8, Juan Bollini 3), 12-8.
Newport (Gene Goldstein, 0, Sugar Erskine, 6, Marc Ganzi/Santos Bollini, 1, Tomacho Pieres, 6) defeated Travieso (Teo Calle, 0, Tony Calle, 3, Pablo Spinacci, 6, Jason Crowder, 5), 12-9.
Casablanca and Travieso will play in the Just For The Fun Of It at 10 a.m. followed by the final between Santa Rita and Newport at 11:15 a.m. Admission is free and the public is welcome.
In the opening game, Santa Rita was led by Girl Power. Mother and daughter Melissa and Riley Ganzi combined for ten goals, with each scoring five.
It was Riley Ganzi’s first grass tournament since the 2022 U.S. Open. She showed no signs of rust, playing well throughout the game. She was coming off her Perigon Trophy win Sunday at the World Polo League Beach Polo World Cup in Miami Beach.
Santa Rita, playing well together as a mixed team, led for most of the game and had leads of 3-1 in the opening chukker, 6-5 at the half, 10-7 in the fifth chukker and 11-7 in the final chukker.
The game was tied twice in the second (3-3) and fourth (6-6) chukkers with goals from Ganzi and Austin, but that was the closest Casablanca would get.
In addition to Santa Rita’s Girl Power, Astrada and Uranga each had one goal. For Casablanca, Austin and Roldan each had three goals and Ganzi added two.
Santa Rita outshot Casablanca, 17-15 and led in knock-ins, 7-5. Casablanca led in throw-ins, 14-7, but couldn’t capitalize. There were only three fouls committed, two by Casablanca.
In the second game, Newport started quickly jumping out to leads of 3-1 and 5-2 after two chukkers and 6-4 at the half. Travieso clawed its way back behind Teo Calle to tie Newport, 7-7, and 9-9 after the fourth and fifth chukkers. Calle had three goals in those chukkers.
Newport found its momentum in the final chukker to shut out Travieso, 3-0, with two goals coming from Ganzi, including a 40-yard penalty conversion, and one by Erskine.
The game marked the return of Tony Calle to Grand Champions, who had separated his collarbone while playing polo during the fall season in November.
Ganzi scored a game-high six goals in four chukkers. Goldstein and Erskine each had two goals and Pieres and Bollini added one. For Travieso, Teo Calle scored a team-high five goals. Tony Calle had two goals and Crowder and Spinacci each had one.
Newport outshot Travieso, 17-15, and led in throw-ins, 14-11. Travieso led in knock-ins, 6-5. There were only two fouls committed, one by each team, with Ganzi converting a 40-yarder.
The Sun Cup is the first of six medium goal tournaments in April and May in what is expected to be the best spring season in the club’s 16-year history.
In last year’s Sun Cup final, Knockers Field (Annabelle Gundlach, Marc Ganzi, Brandon Phillips, Alejandro Novillo Astrada) was impressive in its 10-7 victory over Bored Ape (Ryan Shank, Gene Goldstein, Nic Roldan, Juan Bollini/Pablo Spinacci). Astrada was Most Valuable Player.
During the spring season, amateur polo players get the chance to play with and against some of the world’s top professional polo players. It is geared towards improving polo skills and having fun with the emphasis on fun.
The spring season is being live-streamed worldwide on Wellington-based ChukkerTV (CTV Sports).
The spring schedule (subject to change because of weather) is: April 26-30, Sun Cup; May 3-7, Santa Rita Abierto; May 10-14, Casablanca Spring Challenge; May 17-21, Eastern Challenge; May 24-29, The Memorial and May 26-28 WPL Polo Pride, the highlight event of the spring season.
Grand Champions, the nation’s largest polo club celebrating its 16th anniversary, 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 tracks, five climate-controlled tack rooms, vet room, staff quarters, guest house and four polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation and short work arena. The club has nine world-class fields at GCPC and four at Santa Rita.
During the winter polo season, Grand Champions, the nation’s largest and most innovative USPA-sanctioned polo club, nestled in the heart of the world’s winter equestrian capital, hosted tournaments: 6, 8, 12, 20, and 26-goal leagues, WCT Finals, The Polo School Women’s Weekly league play and 26-goal WPL tournaments at both Grand Champions and Santa Rita.
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 Polo School, now located at the former Pony Express facility, operates in Wellington January through May and September through November. The stand-alone USPA-sanctioned polo club, is thriving. It 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. November. The Polo School has nurtured several junior, men and women polo players now playing in the pro and amateur ranks since its inception.
For more information on leagues or Polo School contact Director of Operations Juan Bollini at 561-346-1099 or General Manager Cale Newman at 561-876-2930.