Grand Champions Polo Club in Wellington will host the prestigious International Cup pitting England against Team USA on Sunday, Nov. 25 at 3 p.m. The club is located at the corner of Lake Worth Road and South Shore Blvd.
It is the first time the 6-year-old polo facility has hosted a major international men’s game. The 20-goal men’s championship features some of the top players from England and the U.S. The international game is sanctioned by both the United States Polo Association and Hurlingham Polo Association.
The U.S. will field a 19-goal lineup that features 8-goaler Nic Roldan, 7-goaler Jeff Hall, 3-goaler Carlos Gracida Jr. and 1-goaler Marc Ganzi. The British roster includes 4-goaler Jack Richardson, 5-goaler Max Routledge, 6-goaler Tom Morley and 5-goaler Richard Le Poer. A women’s 7-goal game between the U.S. and England will be held before the men’s game at 1 p.m.
The opening game of the polo doubleheader will feature some of the world’s top polo players, including Brit Nina Vestey Clarkin, rated at 4 goals and regarded as the world’s top women’s player.
The U.S. women’s roster features 3-goaler Sunny Hale, 1.5-goaler Gillian Johnston, 1.5-goaler Tiffany Busch and 0-goaler Melissa Ganzi, co-host of the holiday weekend event along with her husband.
In May 2011, Grand Champions hosted the U.S. women playing the British Armed Forces team where Hale, Busch, Lauren Biddle and Ganzi knocked off the men’s team.
Grand Champions Polo Club is fast becoming one of the nation’s top polo venues. The club was built by Marc and Melissa Ganzi. It’s been a labor of love for the Ganzi family to have a polo club in their back yard to not only enable their top-level polo teams, Audi and Piaget, to practice on, but to watch their children, Grant and Riley, grow up playing polo.
“We started Grand Champions to have off-season polo during the academic year for our children in order for them to stay in school,” Melissa Ganzi said. “We wanted to stay home with our kids and we also wanted to play polo year-round, so we play all of May here and October and November.”
The club features two regulation-size polo fields (each big enough to fit nine football fields), room in the middle for stick-and-ball practice, restrooms and plenty of room for tailgating, parking and horse trailers.
The club has a relaxed atmosphere and an easily accessible location near the intersection of Lake Worth Road and South Shore Blvd. Fans and locals come to watch and play in weekend tournaments. Families with kids and dogs on leashes are always welcome.
“It’s like having a baseball or football field in your backyard, only better,” Ganzi said.
Grand Champions Polo also hosts the annual Women’s Championship Tournament, the Gay Polo League Tournament, the Challenge Cup, the Spring Classic, the USPA Eastern Challenge, the USPA Sun Cup and the USPA National Twenty-Goal Championship Tournament, which concluded on Sunday with Audi (Marc Ganzi, Carlos Gracida, Nic Roldan and Carlos Gracida Jr.) defeating Piaget (Melissa Ganzi, Jeff Hall, Juan Bollini and Juan Badiola) 10-9 for the title. Audi won the 20-goal USPA North America Cup a week earlier.
Melissa Ganzi, a board member and vice president of the National Museum of Polo & Hall of Fame in Lake Worth, said all proceeds from this weekend’s polo doubleheader will benefit the museum and its expansion plans for a new annex.
The National Museum of Polo & Hall of Fame, a nonprofit educational organization, is dedicated to fostering an appreciation of the development, history and tradition of the sport of polo by collecting, preserving, exhibiting and interpreting its collections as well as honoring those who have made outstanding contributions to the sport.
General admission tickets cost $20 and include admission for one carload and a field-side view of the polo match between the U.S. and U.K. Be sure to bring your own seating.
Gourmet food truck Stocked-N-Loaded will be at the field with delicious snacks and drinks, and tented seating will be available to enjoy your meal.
For more information, or to purchase tickets, call (561) 644-5050 or visit www.gcpoloclub.com.