$50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament Begins Saturday At Grand Champions Polo Club
By Arianna Delin, Sharon Robb for Grand Champions Polo ClubThe fourth annual $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament gets under way Saturday at Grand Champions Polo Club.
One of the nation's most important and competitive 12-goal tournaments is offering major prize money and has attracted some of the sport's top players including several up-and-coming young athletes.
The draw was held Tuesday at the Wellington National Golf Club. After the draw, teams, sponsors and invited guests were treated to a sit down dinner party by Marc and Melissa Ganzi, owners of Grand Champions.
Host Marc Ganzi of Grand Champions Polo Club giving last-minute information during the draw.The winner-take-all, single-elimination tournament features seven teams. GSA is the top-seeded team followed by Tackeria (2), Polologistics (3), Casablanca (4), Westhaven (5), Port Mayaca (6), and County Line Feed and Supply/Team USPA (7).
Team lineups are:
Casablanca: Matias Gonzalez, 2; Grant Ganzi, 2; Juancito Bollini, 3; Jesse Bray, 5.
County Line Feed and Supply/Team USPA: Nick Johnson, 2; Kylie Sheehan, 0; Wes Finlayson, 3; Santi Torres, 7.
GSA: Henry Porter, 1; Santino Magrini, 2; Juan Martin Zubia, 6; Torito Ruiz, 3.
Polologistics: Joseph Manheim, 1; Nick Manifold, 4; Joaquin Panelo, 5; Marcos Garcia Del Rio, 4.
Port Mayaca: Robert Orthwein, 4; Stevie Orthwein, 4; Wesley Uys, 4; Juanse Olivera, 0.
The Tackeria: Kristos Magrini, 0; Matt Coppola, 4; Juan Monteverde, 5; Tommy Alberdi, 3.
Westhaven: Max Torokvei, 0; Agustin Arellano, 2; Felipe Viana, 5; Pedro Falabella, 5.
With Juan Olivera and Marc Ganzi looking on, Wes Finlayson draws the No. 7 seed and bye.The tournament begins Saturday with two games. Casablanca plays Polologistics at 10 a.m. and GSA plays Tackeria at 4 p.m.
Last year's champion was Palm Beach Illustrated/Team USPA, 13-12 winners over Pony Express (Justin Daniels, Benji Daniels, Bautista Urbina, Tomas Goti). The foursome of Todd Thurston, Jared Zenni, Geronimo Obregon and Jesse Bray, all Team USPA members, was the youngest team to win the title.
Bray was named Most Valuable Player after turning in one of his finest career performances.
Wes Finlayson, Matias Gonzalez, Henry Porter and Grant Ganzi size up the competition.In 2015, Audi (Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Mark Tomlinson, Wes Finlayson) had one of its best games of the season to defeat Newport (Gene Goldstein, Joaquin Panelo, Michel Dorignac, Agustin Arellano).
Tomlinson, 32, one of England's top polo players and rated seven goals in his homeland, was named MVP.
Hayley Heatley, Jesse Bray and Lucas Lalor talk before the draw.In 2014, Palm Beach Equine won the inaugural tournament. In the final, the team of Dr. Scott Swerdlin, Alejandro Gonzalez, Tommy Collingwood and Luis Escobar came from behind to defeat Casablanca, 11-9. The Casablanca team featured Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Carlitos Gracida and Nic Roldan. Escobar was named MVP.
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 only polo club in the U.S. to offer the unique program.
Winning team Palm Beach Illustrated/Team USPA and Terry Duffy hoisting the victors' trophy. Photos by ChukkerTVThe Polo School at Grand Champions, a 501c3 organization, is dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grass roots youth. Its mission is to provide individuals opportunities in polo. The Polo School operates in Wellington January through June and September through November.