Team USA defeated Argentina 7-4 in the International Cup last weekend, while Aspen Valley prevailed over Grand Champions 5-3 in the Legends of Polo Carlos Gracida Memorial.
Team USA (Grant Ganzi, Jeff Hall, Nic Roldan and Juan Bollini) took on Argentina (Santiago Cernadas, Pablo Spinacci, Horacio Heguy and Michel Dorignac) in Saturday’s International Cup, the finale to the Grand Champions Polo Club’s fall season, at Santa Rita Polo Farm.
Argentina faced a strong defense in the first chukker, with Team USA keeping them away from the posts. Roldan scored the first goal of the match for Team USA. The Americans kept up the momentum into the second chukker, with goals from Hall and Ganzi. Dorignac put Argentina on the board in the second chukker, which ended 3-1 in favor of the U.S. Heguy added to Argentina’s total in the third chukker, but another shot by Ganzi ended the half with Team USA ahead 4-2.
Dorignac started the second half by scoring for Argentina, but Roldan answered with two consecutive shots on goal to end the fourth chukker with the U.S. up 6-3. Dorignac came back to score again in the fifth chukker, with Roldan retaliating once again. The chukker ended 7-4. Both teams battled ferociously in a back-and-forth final chukker, but neither team could penetrate the other’s defense. It was still 7-4 at the horn, with Team USA capturing the title.
Roldan, the high scoring player of the match with four goals, was named MVP. Dorignac was responsible for three of Argentina’s four goals. Belle and Delila, both owned by Santa Rita Polo Farm, were named Best Playing Ponies.
Saturday also saw Grand Champions (Pablo Pulido, Brandon Phillips, Carlitos Gracida and Kris Kampsen) meet Aspen Valley (Michael Bickford, Sugar Erskine, Nano Gracida and Nick Manifold) in the Legends of Polo Carlos Gracida Memorial.
The match honors the late Carlos Gracida, one of the most beloved players in the sport, who died tragically in February 2014 during a polo match at the Everglades Polo Club. Gracida hailed from a Mexican polo dynasty and first picked up a mallet at age 5. By the age of 25, he had achieved a 10-goal handicap. He won every major tournament in the sport, with nine U.S. Open victories and 10 British Open wins to his credit. He coached Prince William and Prince Harry in the sport. Gracida was also known as a consummate gentleman and beloved on and off the field.
In a typical year, the entire Gracida family would be in attendance at the match. While the pandemic has forced Grand Champions to close the club to spectators, Gracida’s sons, Carlitos and Nano, were still able to play in the four-chukker tournament.
Manifold put the first goal on the board for Aspen Valley, with an answer by Grand Champions’ Phillips. Nano Gracido found the goal to end the first chukker 2-1 in favor of Aspen Valley. Nano Gracida showed that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in the second chukker, scoring another goal and successfully converting a penalty two to put Aspen Valley up 4-1. Pulido scored to end the half at 2-4 in favor of Aspen Valley.
Both teams played a tough defense in the third chukker, and neither team was able to score. Bickford found the goal to score for Aspen Valley in the final chukker, while Carlitos Gracida successfully sank a penalty two shot. The match ended 5-3, with Aspen Valley taking the title.
Nano Gracida was named Most Valuable Player, while Bickford’s Lola was Best Playing Pony.