Changes afoot for 2016 polo season in Wellington

WELLINGTON–The winter polo season begins Thursday with high profile tournaments at International Polo Club Palm Beach and for the first time, Grand Champions Polo Club.

The Herbie Pennell Cup, the first tournament of the high goal season, begins Thursday at IPC. The opening game features Villa del Lago with newly-ranked 10-goaler Hilario Ulloa against Mt. Brilliant at 3 p.m.

The winner advances into Sunday’s final against Postage Stamp Farm, making its IPC debut, also at 3 p.m.

IPC, founded in 2002, is in transition after being purchased in May 2016 by Wellington Equestrian Partners.

WEP, newcomers to polo, breathed new life into the Winter Equestrian Festival and Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Colorado Horse Park and Tryon (N.C.) International Equestrian Center under the direction of Mark and Katherine Bellissimo.

The husband and wife team hope to do the same for polo, which is at a crossroads in the U.S. because of a drop off in corporate sponsors, patrons and fans.

IPC, which has seven fields, will host four 20-goal and three 26-goal tournaments featuring the C.V. Whitney Cup, USPA Gold Cup and U.S. Open.

Grand Champions Polo Club, a mainstay in the sport for ten years with low, medium, 20-goal, youth and women’s tournaments eight months out of the year, is stepping up its schedule this season.

Husband and wife Marc and Melissa Ganzi purchased the 100-acre Zacara Farm in August and renamed it Santa Rita Polo Farm. With 11 polo fields at three different sites, Grand Champions is able to offer more polo at every level including high goal.

Grand Champions is resurrecting the April 1-15 $100,000 World Cup, single-elimination, winner-take-all event. The tournament is open to 0 to 26-goal rated teams.

Grand Champions is also hosting the Feb. 22-March 11 20-Goal Sterling Cup, held during polo’s hey day at the old Palm Beach Polo and Country Club; the March 1-11 $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament; March 15-April 1 National 20-Goal Tournaments and Women’s Championship Tournament final in April.

Grand Champions Polo Club is also fielding a 20-goal team at IPC with top American player Nic Roldan, a Cardinal Newman alum rated at 8 goals; Grant Ganzi, a Lynn University freshman who won his first two international tournaments in Canada and Wellington during the fall season; Juancito Bollini, a Florida Atlantic junior and Argentine Inaki Laprida, a 7-goaler. The team makes its IPC debut at the Jan. 4-22 Joe Barry Memorial Cup, featuring an eight-team.

In attempt to beef up the sport’s exposure to attract a wider fan base, the U.S. Polo Association will unveil its new polo network page on uspolo.org. USPA Polo Network, with live streaming content provided by Wellington-based ChukkerTV, will stream the entire IPC season in addition to several other U.S. tournaments.

INTERNATIONAL POLO CLUB PALM BEACH

When: Thursday-April 23

Where: International Polo Club Palm Beach, 3667 120th Ave. South, Wellington.

Admission: There is general admission viewing ($10), stadium seating ($30-$40), box seats ($150 per Sunday), field tailgating and field side champagne brunch at The Pavilion. For ticket information call 561-204 -5687. Polo hotline is 561-282-5290 and website is internationalpoloclub.com.

GRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUB

When: January 6-April 25

Where: 13444 Southfields Road, on the corner of South Shore Blvd. and Lake Worth Rd., Wellington.

Admission: Games are free to the public with great field side viewing in a relaxed atmosphere. Complimentary food and refreshments are served at tournament finals. Polo hotline is 561-373-0073 and website is gcpolo.com.
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Originally published by the Palm Beach Post. To see orginal story, click here.

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