WELLINGTON, FL, November 30, 2020— Team USA defeated Argentina 7-4 in the International Cup while Aspen Valley prevailed over Grand Champions 5-3 in the Legends of Polo Carlos Gracida Memorial.
Team USA (Grant Ganzi, Jeff Hall, Nic Roldan, and Juan Bollini) took on Argentina (Santiago Cernadas,Pablo Spinacci, Horacio Heguy, and Michel Dorignac) in Saturday‘s International Cup, the finale to Grand Champions Polo Club‘s Fall season, at Santa Rita Polo Farm.
Argentina faced a strong defense in the first chukker, with Team USA keeping them away from the posts. Nic Roldan scored the first goal of the match for the US. The Americans kept up the momentum into the second chukker, with goals from Jeff Hall and Grant Ganzi. Michel Dorignac put Argentina on the board and the second chukker ended 3-1 in favor of the US. Horacio Heguy brought Argentina’s total up to 2 goals, but another shot by Grant Ganzi ended the half 4-2 for the US.
Michel Dorignac started the second half by scoring for Argentina, but Nic Roldan answered with two consecutive shots on goal to end the fourth chukker with the US up 6-3. Dorignac came back to score again in the fifth chukker, with Roldan retaliating once again. The chukker ended 7-4. Both teams battled ferociously in a back and forth final chukker, but neither team could penetrate the other’s defense. It was still 7-4 at the horn, with Team USA capturing the title.
Nic Roldan, the high scoring player of the match with 4 goals, was named MVP. Michel Dorignac was responsible for 3 of Argentina’s 4 goals. Belle and Delila, both owned by Santa Rita Polo Farm, were named Best Playing Ponies.
Saturday also saw Grand Champions (Pablo Pulido, Brandon Phillips, Carlitos Gracida and Kris Kampsen) meet Aspen Valley (Michael Bickford, Sugar Erskine, Nano Gracida and Nick Manifold) in the Legends of Polo Carlos Gracida Memorial.
The match honors the late Carlos Gracida, one of the most beloved players in the sport, who died tragically in February 2014 during a polo match at the Everglades Polo Club. Gracida hailed from a Mexican polo dynasty and first picked up a mallet at the age of 5. By the age of 25, he had achieved a 10-goal handicap.He won every major tournament in the sport, with nine U.S. Open victories and 10 British Open wins to his credit. He coached Prince William and Prince Harry and was the Queen’s favorite polo player. Gracida was also known as a consummate gentleman and beloved on and off the field. His death was a bitter loss to the sport and the polo community.
In a typical year, the entire Gracida family would be in attendance at the match. While the COVID pandemic has forced Grand Champions to close the club to spectators, Gracida’s sons, Carlitos and Nano, were still able to play in the four chukker tournament.
Nick Manifold put the first goal on the board for Aspen Valley, with an answer by Grand Champions’ Brandon Phillips. Nano Gracido found the goal to end the first chukker 2-1 for Aspen Valley. Nano showed that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in the second chukker, scoring another goal and successfully converting a penalty two to put Aspen Valley up 4-1. Pablo Pulido scored to end the half at 2-4 in favor of Aspen Valley.
Both teams played a tough defense in the third chukker, and neither team was able to score. Michael Bickford found the goal to score for Aspen Valley, while Carlitos Gracida successfully sank a penalty two shot. The match ended 5-3, with Aspen Valley taking the title.
Nano Gracida was named Most Valuable Player, while Michael Bickford’s Lola was Best Playing Pony.
Pictures by © Grand Champions Polo Club