• Spring Challenge Cup

    Audi Captures Spring Challenge Cup At Grand Champions Polo Club; Rich Desich Named MVP

    By Arianna Delin, Sharon Robb for Grand Champions Polo Club
    On a perfect day for polo, Audi led from start-to-finish to capture the Spring Challenge Cup on Mother's Day Sunday at Grand Champions Polo Club.

    Playing together for the first time in the two-day tournament, the foursome of Marc Ganzi, Guille Aguero, Lucas Lalor and Pablo Dorignac defeated Newport (Gene Goldstein, Rich Desich, Julio Arellano, Juancito Bollini), 10-8, to win its first tournament of the spring season.

    Spring Challenge Cup champion Audi teammates Marc Ganzi, Pablo Dorignac, Lucas Lalor and Guille Aguero.
    "I can't remember the last time I won a tournament, it's been a while," Aguero said smiling. "This is a good team and these guys are good players. This is the first time we played together but these guys know what to do it so it's automatic.

    "Newport played very well," said Aguero, who will finish out at the spring season at Grand Champions before heading to Mashomack Polo Club for the summer. "It was a good game and a fun game for everybody. I enjoyed the winning."

    MVP Rich Desich of Newport all smiles getting MVP award from Christine Urreiztieta.
    Newport's Rich Desich, playing above his handicap and one of this year's most improved players during the winter and spring seasons, was named Most Valuable Player. Last weekend Desich, playing for Audi, was named MVP in the USPA Sun Cup subsidiary game.  

    Desich is an Ohio State alum (1994-1998) based in the Cleveland/Akron Ohio area. He started playing polo at Culver Military Academy (1991-1994). After a long layoff from the game, Desich returned to the sport, honing his skills at The Polo School at Grand Champions with the help of head instructor Juan Bollini and his son Juancito.

    Gene Goldstein of Newport goes for the offside forehand shot with Pablo Dorignac defending.
    "I took a long break from polo," Desich said. "The love for the horses brought me back. I wanted to come back to it. Grand Champions, Juan Bollini and Juancito and everyone involved there gets all the credit. I am very excited about playing again and so happy and grateful to Grand Champions. What Marc and Melissa are doing here is so amazing."

    Desich was thrilled with MVP honors. It was the first time he played with Arellano, one of the top players in the U.S., Bollini and Goldstein.

    Newport teammates Julio Arellano and MVP Rich Desich working together.
    "It's absolutely amazing," Desich said. "My teammates were great. They were very welcoming and teaching me about the game. After playing on Friday we got a little bit of a rhythm going today. Audi was a tough team with amazing chemistry."

    Marc Ganzi's second-chukker horse, Granma, an 8-year-old mare, was selected Best Playing Pony.

    Marc Ganzi of Audi breaks away from defender Juancito Bollini of Newport.
    While Newport struggled with its offensive attack early in the game, Audi led 1-0, 3-2 and 5-2 after three chukkers. Arellano brought Newport within one goal, 5-4, with 4:25 left in the fourth chukker, but goals by Aguero and Ganzi extended Audi's lead to 7-4 after four chukkers. 

    Newport could get no closer than two goals the remainder of the game.

    Guille Aguero of Audi goes for the big neck shot downfield.

    For the second game in a row, Ganzi was leading scorer with a game-high four goals. Against Dutta Corp on Friday, Ganzi had five goals. Aguero had three goals, Dorignac scored two and Lalor added one goal.

    Newport was led by Arellano's three goals. Desich and Goldstein each had two goals and Bollini added one.
    Lucas Lalor of Audi and the chase pack waiting for the ball to drop.

    In the subsidiary game, Dutta Corp (Carlitos Gracida, Timmy Dutta, Piki Diaz Alberdi, Tim Dutta) defeated Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, Jason Crowder, Grant Ganzi, Mariano Uranga), 8-5. It was a special Mother's Day for Melissa Ganzi playing with her teenage son Grant. It was also Uranga's debut at Grand Champions.

    Piki Diaz Alberdi receiving subsidiary MVP plaque from Christine Urreiztieta.
    Argentine Piki Diaz Alberdi, a former 10-goaler in Great Britain, was selected Most Valuable Player in the subsidiary game.

    Gracida scored a game-high four goals. Timmy Dutta and Alberdi each scored two goals. Grant Ganzi scored a team-high three goals, all on penalty conversions, and Uranga added two goals.

    Spending Mother's Day playing together, Flexjet's Melissa Ganzi and her son Grant along with teammates Jason Crowder and Mariano Uranga.
    Grand Champions Polo Club pulled out all stops for the championship final making Mother's Day special for fans and friends.

    Award-winning chef Shannon Atkins provided a tasty array of finger foods including parmesan meatballs, pineapple-infused pork sliders, beef ravioli, tomato mozzarella balsamic kebobs and fruit and vegetable platters and was served along with cocktails and refreshments.

    Special Mother's Day cake made by the talented Shelly Nuss of Cakes and Cakes.
    The icing on the cake was a breathtaking three-tier Mother's Day polo-themed cake designed by Shelly Nuss of Cakes and Cakes featuring a sculptured polo cup, horse portraits, polo players and ornate flowers.

    The Spring Challenge Cup was the fourth of six medium-goal tournaments offered in April and May as the GCPC Spring Invitational League. The final two tournaments are the May 19-21 Polo Gear Invitational and May 26-29 The Memorial.

    Grant Ganzi of Flexjet goes for the big defensive back shot against defender Timmy Dutta.

    Winners of the first three tournaments were Dutta Corp (Carlitos Gracida, Timmy Dutta, Piki Diaz Alberdi, Tim Dutta) in the Santa Rita Abierto Open; Clearwater (Chip Campbell, Michael Bickford, Ezequiel Fernandez, Jeff Hall) in the USPA Eastern Challenge and Dutta Corp (Tim Dutta, Timmy Dutta, Piki Diaz Alberdi, Carlitos Gracida) in the USPA Sun Cup. Dutta Corp has also won two subsidiary titles.

    During the Grand Champions' spring season, amateur polo players get the chance to play with and against some of the world's top professional polo players. It is geared towards improving polo skills and having fun.

    MVP Piki Alberdi of Dutta Corp outraces Mariano Uranga of Flexjet.

    "We are focusing on the game and concentrating on giving everyone an opportunity to play polo and improve their game," said Polo School Director and former 8-goaler Juan Bollini. "Marc and Melissa (Ganzi) have opened Grand Champions to anybody in polo. We have great tournaments here. We are really trying to make polo better in America. We want to show the world we can have the best polo for everyone."

    Award-winning chef Shannon Atkins and assistants with an array of finger foods.

    The spring league is also a great opportunity for young players to develop and hone their skills against their peers and more experienced players.

    The GCPC spring league features: medium goal practice games at least once a week; stick-and-ball sessions available during the week; two medium goal tournament games for teams every weekend; ambulance and USPA umpires for all tournament games; complete turn-key tournament polo with some of the top professionals in the world; playing polo on some of Wellington's most prestigious and well-manicured fields; club-sponsored social events every weekend for all players and excellent trophies for all teams every weekend.

    Head umpire Dale Schwetz taking a break from the ChukkerTV booth to officiate the final.