Great Futures Celebrity Polo Match Highlights March Madness At Grand Champions Polo ClubGrand Champions Polo Club will kick off one of its busiest months of the year with the fifth annual Great Futures Celebrity Polo Match on Sunday.
By Sharon Robb
Neil Hirsch presents the winners' trophy to Equuleus players.
Photo by ChukkerTVThe nation's largest and most innovative polo club has assembled top players, sponsors and horses for a good cause and morning of fun polo that begins at 10 a.m.Nacho Figueras, the sport's ambassador, heads the star-studded event that raises money for the Neil S. Hirsch Family Boys & Girls Club of Wellington.
Among pro players are Juan Bollini, Nico Pieres, Rodrigo Andrade, Nic Roldan and Martin Pepa.
World renown polo announcers Tony Coppola and Jan-Erik Franck will handle the announcing duties. Roddy Mathews will umpire.
Nico Pieres. Photo by Ramon Casares
Teams and rosters for the four-chukker round robin are:
Sebilion: Will Jacobs, Charlie Jacobs, Juan Bollini, Nico Pieres.
Grand Champions: Jeff Desich, Rich Desich, Nacho Figueras, Rodrigo Andrade.
Equuleus Polo Team: Joe DiMenna, Riley Ganzi, Nic Roldan, Martin Pepa.
Defending champion Equuleus is going for the three-peat. Last year's winning team of Joe DiMenna, Martin Pepa, Grant Ganzi and Mariano Gonzalez finished ahead of Grand Champions and Valentine Farm. Riley Ganzi was named MVP.
Figueras is the sport's international ambassador and one of the most well-recognized polo players in the world as the face of Ralph Lauren.
Rodrigo Andrade. File Photo
Grand Champions president and USPA Florida Circuit Governor Melissa Ganzi and her husband Marc are thrilled to host the event for the fifth year. Each year the annual charity event has been embraced by the polo community.
"What Neil has done for the community of Wellington is just above and beyond," Melissa Ganzi said. "He takes such pride in what he is doing in the community. The boys and girls club makes a difference in so many people's lives.
"Neil Hirsch has set a great example for our polo community by giving back to those who need us most here in Wellington and that's our children," Ganzi said. "The celebrity match is making an impact on the club members, their families and our community."
Said Hirsch, "The kids keep me coming back. To see these kids every day. They come to the club after school. They are in a safe place, great environment and safe from the streets. That keeps me going."
Kids get the chance to meet Joe DiMenna's Best Playing Pony Sunbrella after last year's event. Photo by ChukkerTV
Proceeds from the fundraiser celebrity match and Great Futures Polo Day Brunch at International Polo Club Palm Beach at 12:30 p.m., featuring a live auction, benefit the boys and girls club. Attendees will be treated to the 26-goal USPA Butler Cup 3 p.m. final featuring C.V. Whitney Cup champion Valiente (Bob Jornayvaz, Tommy Beresford, Facundo Pieres, Adolfo Cambiaso) and Colorado (Robert Jornayvaz, Juan Britos, Magoo Laprida, Diego Cavanagh).
The Neil S. Hirsch Family Boys and Girls Club of Wellington along with twelve other Boys and Girls Clubs in Palm Beach County and more than 1,100 in the United States, provides services including after-school activities and camp opportunities in a safe environment to underprivileged kids, ages 6-18.
Those interested in sponsorship packages or attending the brunch can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 561-683-3287.
Nacho Figueras. File Photo
Sunday morning's polo match is free to the public. Sponsors and guests are invited along with all of the supporters of the Boys & Girls Club including the club's children and their families to attend.
The Neil S. Hirsch Family Boys & Girls Club of Wellington is located at 1080 Wellington Trace. The non-profit organization is open year-round and serves 7,000 children.
The Great Futures event heads a full schedule of polo for the month of March at Grand Champions. The Sterling Cup and $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournaments and Women's Weekly League at Santa Rita Polo Farm are already under way. They will be joined by the Madelon Bourdieu Memorial 6-Goal Series, featuring a record nine teams; Limited Edition 8-Goal Series with five teams, Top Pony 12-Goal Series with eight teams and John T. Oxley 16-20 Memorial.
Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique private 100-acre polo facility in Wellington with 120 stalls in five self-contained barns, exercise track, five climate-controlled tack rooms, vet room, staff quarters, guest house and polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation and stick-and-ball fields.
During fall, winter and spring seasons, Grand Champions Polo Club, the nation's largest club with 11 well-manicured fields, hosts polo tournaments ranging from six to 26-goal in addition to special events.
Awards table for the Great Futures Celebrity Polo Match. Photos by ChukkerTV
The club features monthly 6, 8 and 12-goal tournaments and women's weekly league play during the winter season in addition to two 16-20 tournaments, $50,000 National 12 Goal, $100,000 World Cup winner-take-all 0-40-goal tournament, WCT Tournament and USPA National President's Cup.
During the 2017 winter season Grand Champions attracted a record 72 teams and another 18 teams during the spring season.
Grand Champions 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.
The Club Hotline is 561-644-5050. It will be updated every day at 8 a.m. for both players and fans.