• The Memorial At Santa Rita Polo Farm

    Intercontinental Hotel Wins Opening Game Of The Memorial At Santa Rita Polo Farm 

    Intercontinental Hotel won its spring debut on a rain-soaked Friday at Santa Rita Polo Farm.
    By Sharon Robb
    The foursome of Alejandro Poma, 1, Juancito Bollini, 4, Kris Kampsen, 6, and JJ Celis, 4, weathered a steady drizzle for most of the game to defeat Aspen Valley (Jeff Desich, 0, Carlitos Gracida, 4, Lucas Lalor, 5, Juan Bollini, 5), 6-3, and advance into Sunday's final. 

    Alejandro Poma of Intercontinental Hotel and Lucas Lalor of Aspen Valley battle for the ball.

    Aspen Valley will play in the Polo Gear Challenge Cup in the opening game of Sunday's doubleheader.

    The afternoon game featuring 14-goal teams Sebucan (Pablo Pulido, 2, Grant Ganzi, 2, Pablo Dorignac, 5, Brandon Phillips, 5) and Grand Champions (Josh Dubarry, 0, Marc Ganzi, 2, Nacho Novillo Astrada, 8, Julio Gracida, 4) was postponed because of rain. 

    Tournament officials hope to resume play on Saturday at a time to be determined. Fans should check the club hotline for weather and game updates.

    Jeff Desich of Aspen Valley on his way to scoring one of his team-high three goals.

    Poma, a frequent player at both Grand Champions and its sister club Aspen Valley Polo Club, arrived in Wellington on Thursday and was hoping Mother Nature would cooperate for his first game and she did. The El Salvador native ended up sharing high scoring honors with Juancito Bollini. Each had three goals. 

    The last time Poma played was three weeks ago in Vero Beach and before that for 10 days at Santa Rita during the Easter holiday in practice sessions while preparing his horses. 

    "This is the first tournament for me but the last one at Grand Champions," Poma said. "I always try to play in May. I've been looking forward to it. I'm also playing in Aspen in late July through mid-August and hope to play two or three tournaments over there. I love it, I've been going there for many years."
     
    Kris Kampsen of Intercontinental Hotel works the ball out of a crowd.

    The opening game started off slowly with Intercontinental Hotel taking a 2-1 lead on goals by Poma and Bollini and extended its lead to 3-1 by halftime.

    "I think in the beginning we were beingcautious," Poma said. "The rain and wet conditions always affect your mind. You want to be a little bit cautious so I think that affected the game.

    "There were moments where the game opened up, we got things going and it got exciting," Poma said. "It was really fun."

    Alejandro Poma of Intercontinental Hotel hits downfield with Carlitos Gracida of Aspen Valley defending.

    Aspen Valley had its share of opportunities to tie the game but couldn't take advantage of its chances at the penalty line. Intercontinental Hotel was on the defensive for most of the game, holding Aspen Valley scoreless in four chukkers.

    Jeff Desich scored all three goals for Aspen Valley.

    "We had our chances," said Juan Bollini. "It was all about having fun out there and we were able to get the game in before it rained."

    Lucas Lalor of Aspen Valley tries to work the ball surrounded by three Intercontinental Hotel players.

    Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) is home to the world's most prestigious and well-loved hotel brands for luxury, boutique, family time and convenient comfort. For more information or hotel sites throughout the world including South Florida and Central America, go to www.ihg.com

    "It was actually an old sponsor of ours that I played with in Argentina in a few tournaments," Poma said. "But it's a brand that's very well-recognized and part of our hospitality group. We have a wonderful relationship with IHG."

    In the 2017 Memorial tournment final, Newport (Gene Goldstein, Grant Ganzi, Pablo Dorignac, Julio Arellano) rallied for an 18-16 upset victory of previously undefeated and three-time defending champion Dutta Corp (Carlitos Gracida, Timmy Dutta, Piki Diaz Alberdi, Tim Dutta). Grant Ganzi was MVP.

    Jeff Desich of Aspen Valley and JJ Celis of Intercontinental Hotel cross mallets going for the ball.

    In last year's spring Polo Gear Challenge Cup, 11-goal Dutta Corp (Carlitos Gracida, Timmy Dutta, Piki Diaz Alberdi, Tim Dutta) won its third title of the season with an 11-7 victory over 16-goal Newport (Gene Goldstein, Marc Ganzi, Lucas Lalor, Julio Arellano). Alberdi, a former 10-goaler in Great Britain, was MVP.

    Polo Gear, one of the top sponsors and supporters of polo, was established in 1993 and incorporated in Florida. It manufactures, distributes and sells polo products to players, teams and polo events worldwide. It is the premier retailer for all necessary clothing, accessories, safety equipment and polo saddles for the polo enthusiasts of all ages. For more information on Polo Gear and to order products, visit www.pologearusa.net or at 3500 Fairlane Farms Road, Suite 15, Wellington.

    Winners of this season's first four spring tournaments were Dutta Corp, three-peating both the Santa Rita Abierto and Sun Cup and winning the Spring Challenge; and Sebucan in the USPA Eastern Challenge.