On a historic day in polo, one of the sport’s most hallowed families came together on a polo field to honour legendary Carlos Gracida. Two generations of Gracida polo players got together to pay tribute to the polo great. Eight family members including brothers, uncles and cousins, played in the Carlos Gracida Legends of Polo Memorial on Saturday at Grand Champions Polo Club. Gracida, a Mexico City native, Wellington resident and frequent player at the Grand Champions, died tragically in February 2014 at age 53.
On a perfect day for polo in front of large crowd including a sold-out VIP tent, the team of Meghan Gracida, JJ Celis, Memo Gracida and Julio Gracida led Les Diables Bleus to a 4-3 victory over Tramontana’s Weston Gracida, Alejandro Gonzalez Gracida, Ruben Gracida and Carlitos Gracida
“It was such a special touch watching the family play,” said Grand Champions President Melissa Ganzi. “It was an emotional, special game. It’s the first time a polo game was played by all family members in someone’s honour.”
The teams were named after Gracida’s most memorable teams he competed for during his distinguished career. Polo has been a family tradition in the Gracida family for decades.
“This is the best way to continue his legacy and our favourite way to honour and remember him and we love it,” Weston Gracida said. “Two days after he passed away we didn’t know what to do and we got all of us together and just went out and played.”
Carlos Gracida was a 10-goal player for 15 years. Gracida won nine U.S. Opens including seven with his brother; five Argentine Opens, a record ten British Opens and seven World Cups.
“It was a thrill and a lot like the way we grew up playing polo,” said Weston Gracida. “My uncles Carlos, Memo and my father Ruben all owned adjoining properties so we grew up playing. We grew up playing practices with them as long as I can remember. This brings back the good memories of playing from before but it’s also a joy to be out there with everybody again because we don’t get to do it very often.”
Carlos’ oldest son Carlitos was named Most Valuable Player. His youngest son, Mariano, was the game’s umpire. Meghan Gracida, the wife of Hall of Famer and former 10-goaler Memo Gracida, Carlos’ older brother, led scoring with three goals. Memo Gracida added one. Alejandro Gonzalez Gracida led Tramontana scoring with two. Carlos Gracida added one.
“This was the best, it doesn’t get any better than this,” said Meghan Gracida, who started playing a polo a year ago with her husband, one of the world’s best teachers. “It’s osmosis when you hang around all these Gracidas. This was all about Carlos. We all miss Carlos every day. It was high emotions but this was the best. This is exactly what he would have wanted, all the family together. Everyone was a winner out there today.”
Proceeds from the game benefitted the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame, a non-profit educational organization, dedicated to fostering an appreciation of the development, history and tradition of the sport of polo by collecting, preserving, exhibiting and interpreting its collections as well as honouring those who have made outstanding contributions to the sport.