Grand Champions, the nation‘s largest polo club, opens the highly-anticipated fall season in ten days with the Tackeria Invitational. In addition to 20-goal action, a medium goal schedule features six tournaments including the Tackeria Invitational. The tournament has a special place in club history as the inaugural tournament when the club first opened in 2007. „We are excited about the fall season,“ said Polo School Director of Operations Juan Bollini said. „The fall season is important to us because it is a continuation of the sport and shows the world you can play polo all year. „We have some great players coming in for the 20-goal and medium goal tournaments. It‘s good, competitive polo and best time of the year with great weather and great fields in October and November after five months of rest.“ Among players expected to compete are Nic Roldan, America‘s top-rated player at 8 goals; Sugar Erskine, Kris Kampsen, Jason Crowder, Pablo Spinacci, Horacio Heguy, Pablo Pulido, Marc Ganzi, Melissa Ganzi, Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini and Juan Bollini. The fall season serves as tuneup for the winter season for players and green horses. The 2020 winter season features the second season of the successful 26-goal World Polo League at Grand Champions and Valiente Polo Farm with the best polo players in the world.
The Tackeria Invitational has a history of exciting finishes. In last year‘s tournament final, Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Julio Gracida, Mariano Gracida) won a hardfought 10-9 overtime game over Flexjet (Santos Bollini, Lucas Escobar, Kris Kampsen, Juan Bollini). In 2017, Audi (Marc Ganzi, Jason Crowder, Brandon Phillips, Carlitos Gracida) rallied in the final chukker to defeat Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, Andres LaPlacette, Pablo Dorignac, Juan Bollini), 11-10, in overtime at Santa Rita Polo Farm. In 2016, Flexjet (Riley Ganzi, Melissa Ganzi, Juan Bollini, Jason Crowder) defeated Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, Jared Sheldon, Carlitos Gracida, Juancito Bollini), 7-6, on Melissa Ganzi‘s winning goal just before the 30-second bell in the final chukker. „The Tackeria Invitational is the perfect way to kick off the season,“ said Tackeria owner Tony Coppola, legendary voice of polo and USPA President. „We are proud to be a returning sponsor with the Tackeria Invitational.“ The Tackeria, a longtime supporter of polo and Grand Champions, carries one of the most complete selections of equestrian equipment in the world, importing goods from all over Europe, the Far East and South America to create the best selection of quality items for its customers. It is a go-to source for equipment, supplies, fashion and gifts for the hunter/jumper, dressage and polo disciplines. The Tackeria is located on the corner of Pierson Rd. and South Shore at 13501 South Shore Blvd. All this week, the Grand Champions Polo Club staff has been putting the finishing touches on its fields at Grand Champions and Santa Rita Polo Farm in preparation for the season-opener.
The 2019 season is highlighted by the International Cup featuring Team USA against France; Legends of Polo Carlos Gracida Memorial, inaugural Wellington Open 20 and USPA National 20. The well-organized fall tournaments attract players from all over the United States and world including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, England, France, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Uruguay, Switzerland, Nigeria and South Africa. Grand Champions had its finest fall season in club history last year. It was the only club in the nation to stage two USPA-sanctioned 20-goal fall tournaments and again is hosting two 20-goal tournaments this season. 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. Club owners Marc and Melissa Ganzi, both accomplished players, share a passion for teaching and sharing the exciting sport of polo with anyone interested in learning. The husband and wife team are coming off their most successful and historical summer season at Grand Champions‘ sister club Aspen Valley Polo Club.
The fall league features: stick-and-ball sessions during the week; two medium tournament games every weekend; ambulance and 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 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, 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. Scholarships are available. The Polo School operates in Wellington January through May and September through November. For more information on the Fall Leagues or Polo School contact Juan Bollini at 561-346-1099.
Wellington-based ChukkerTV will live stream the entire fall season with Dale Schwetz calling the action. ChukkerTV‘s state-of-the art technology also features team challenges and instant replay which made their debut at Grand Champions in January, 2014.
By: Sharon Robb
2019 Grand Champions Fall Schedule
Oct. 11-13, Tackeria Invitational
Oct. 18-20, US Trust Cup
Oct. 25-27, Polo Gear Challenge
Nov. 1-3, Fall Classic
Nov. 8-10, Fall Plates
Nov. 15-17, Pedro Morrison Memorial
Nov. 13-16, Wellington Open 20
Nov. 20-23, USPA National 20
Nov. 30, Legends of Polo and Carlos Gracida Memorial
Nov. 30, 2019 International Cup, USA vs. France