Grand Champions Polo Club Hosts Successful Royal Salute Polo Challenge; Royal Salute Sentebale, Duke of Sussex Win Charity Match

In a star-studded event featuring the Duke of Sussex, Grand Champions Polo Club hosted the Royal Salute Polo Challenge in support of Sentebale.

By Sharon Robb

Photos by Candace Ferreira

Sentebale was co-founded by Prince Harry and Prince Seeiso of Lesotho in southern Africa 2006, in honor of their shared love for the country and their late mothers.

The Duchess was among the many esteemed guests in attendance including tennis star Serena Williams, and presented the trophy to the winning team.

“Me,” smiled Prince Harry as his wife Meghan Markle walked towards him with the trophy and sweet celebratory kiss.

The pro-am polo charity match at Grand Champions and post-game dinner for 280 invited guests hosted by Marc and Melissa Ganzi at Santa Rita Polo Farm highlighted the importance of the programs in Lesotho and Botswana affected by issues of health, unemployment, inequity and climate change and how the sport of polo can help promote the charity’s vital work.

Royal Salute Sentebale (Dana Barnes, 0, Duke of Sussex, 1, Adolfo Cambiaso, 10, Malcolm Borwick, 5) won the round robin, 3-1, over Grand Champions (Louis Devaleix, 1, Grant Ganzi, 3, Nacho Figueras, 5, Hilario Figueras, 6) and Mesaru (Steve Cox, 0, Ivan Rubinich, 3, Pablo MacDonough, 10, Mohawed Julien Ndao, 0) with the Duke of Sussex scoring a goal. Steve Cox was named Most Valuable Player. Nacho Figueras’ bay mare Yatay Sara Jessica was Best Playing Pony.

After the match, Prince Harry said in a statement: “Bringing together the polo community that has long supported the work of Sentebale is always a great experience. Today, we raised funds to support our local teams on the ground deliver life-changing programs.

“The Sentebale team’s commitment plays an essential role in the lives of children and young people across Lesotho and Botswana, offering them hope, education and the means to combat the complex social challenges they face including high unemployment, poverty and the impact of HIV/AIDS.”

The organization’s name, “Sentebale,” meaning “forget-me-not” in Sesotho, reflects its dedication to ensuring no child is overlooked or forgotten.

“We are grateful to all of the guests, sponsors and partners who came together today to support this important work, and of course a huge thank you to all the players for making today’s game possible,” Prince Harry’s statement added.

The polo match, in combination with other events from the week, including a dinner and panel at Zaytinya in South Beach, and  Sotheby’s benefit auction, raised a total of $1 million for the organization.

The Duke of Sussex had fun playing against longtime friend and Sentebale Ambassador Nacho Figueras, who he usually plays with.

“What an incredible day at the Grand Champions Polo Club,” Figueras said. “It was a day not just of sport, but of significant purpose.

“I’m so proud to have shared this experience with my very good friend, Prince Harry. We came together to support Sentebale, a charity close to our hearts… It’s always an honor to ride alongside Prince Harry, whose commitment to making a difference is truly inspiring.”

Figueras first met Prince Harry at a 2007 charity match benefiting Sentebale. They  bonded over their love of horses and the sport.

“We both love horses, polo, the thrill of competition, the speed with which the game is played and the adrenaline,”  Figueras said. “We love and respect the beauty of these animals and the amazing ingredients that this sport offers.”

Later, on his Instagram account, Figueras shared photos of the royal couple with the caption: “Thank you Grand Champions Polo Club, Melissa Ganzi and Marc for this great night celebrating Sentebale.”

The polo game was kept under wraps and not publicized for security reasons.

Grand Champions’ sister club Aspen Valley Polo Club in Carbondale, Colo. has hosted two Sentebale ISPS Handa Polo Cups in 2021 and 2022. Marc Ganzi played in the 2013 Sentebale event in Greenwich, Ct.; Marc and Melissa Ganzi played in the 2016 event at Valiente in Wellington and Riley Ganzi played in the 2018 event in Windsor, England.

Grand Champions 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 11 well-manicured world-class fields at GCPC and Santa Rita.

During the winter polo season, Grand Champions Polo Club, the nation’s largest and most innovative USPA-sanctioned polo club nestled in the heart of the world’s winter equestrian capital, hosts a wide range of tournaments: 6, 8, 12, 20, and 26-goal leagues, The Polo School Women’s Polo League, WCT Finals, several PTF junior tournaments, World Polo League, World Polo League Pride and Sunset Chukkers & Cocktails at both Grand Champions and Santa Rita.

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