On a perfect day for polo, Newport captured its first tournament title of the fall season Sunday at Grand Champions Polo Club.
By: Sharon Robb
After dominating Friday’s opening round robin, Newport (Gene Goldstein, 1, Jason Crowder, 6, Kris Kampsen, 6, Juan Bollini, 5) came back to defeat two-time defending champion Sebucan (Pablo Pulido, 2, Brandon Phillips, 4, Pablo Spinacci, 6, Sugar Erskine, 6), 11-7, and tied Casablanca (Santos Bollini, 1, Grant Ganzi, 3, Juancito Bollini, 4, Nic Roldan, 8), 11-11, to clinch the title. In the other game, Casablanca defeated Sebucan, 10-7.
The scores carried over from Friday’s action where Newport defeated Casablanca, 4-3, and Sebucan, 3-2, and Casablanca topped Sebucan, 6-3.
Gene Goldstein, playing well above his one-goal handicap, was named Most Valuable Player after scoring four goals.
“We had a very balanced team, those three guys are very strong pros,” said Goldstein, playing his horses for only the third time on a polo field. “The horses are doing better and this was much better than last Sunday and better than Friday. It’s going well.
“I’m surprised we beat that Casablanca team,” Goldstein said. “Those guys run the whole time. It’s very hard to stop them. The last three chukkers were very hard. Every one of them ran non-stop.”
Molly, a 7-year-old American thoroughbred gray mare played by Nic Roldan in the first and third chukkers and purchased from Kris Kampsen, was selected Best Playing Pony.
The Fall Plates, sponsored by Tato’s Mallets, was the fifth of six medium-goal tournaments of the season.
In the third and decisive game, the seesaw game changed leads eleven times before Crowder won the throw-in and connected with Kampsen who scored with 1:30 remaining in the game to clinch the win.
Kampsen scored four goals, including a penalty conversion and Crowder had three goals. Roldan also had four goals, Santos Bollini two goals and Ganzi and Juancito Bollini each had one goal.
“This was a great win honestly,” Kampsen said. “I played with Bollini a lot, I played with Jason since we were kids and I played with Gene, so there’s a lot of fun and chemistry.
“I thought for sure it was going to be that tight a game. That’s a really good team. Nic is the most well-organized here right now as far as with horse flesh and obviously being a great player. I knew it was going to be a tough game to play against him and he proved it every time he beats you on a throw-in, he scores.”
Kampsen is enjoying one of his finest years in polo including the fall season at Grand Champions. “I am loving it, I am having a great season,” Kampsen said. “I tried to come better organized with horses. It’s been really good.”
In the opening three-chukker game, Casablanca extended its lead against Sebucan, 8-4, after the first chukker and never let Sebucan into the game with its stingy defense. Sebucan had its share of scoring opportunities but could not capitalize.
Juancito Bollini had two goals and Ganzi and Roldan each had one. Phillips had three goals including a penalty conversion and Spinacci added one.
In the second game, Newport flexed its muscles with great chemistry and teamwork. Newport jumped out to an 8-2 lead after the first chukker and continued its offensive barrage with a 4-3 second chukker for a 10-5 advantage and 3-2 output in the final chukker.
Goldstein scored a game-high four goals, Crowder had two and Kampsen and Bollini each had one goal including a 120-yarder from Bollini.
“I knew we had the better team,” Bollini said. “I thought from the beginning they were the tougher team but I believed in my team. I like my team very much. We knew we were strong. I play a lot with Kris and Jason and we are three very experienced players. And Gene is good, he played his best game of the season. He scored a lot of goals.
“I loved the polo today, it was clean, fast runs and back shots. It was good for polo and good for the club.”
The winners of the first three 2019 tournaments at Grand Champions were: Sebucan (Santos Bollini, Pablo Pulido, Nic Roldan, Kris Kampsen), Fall Classic; Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, Kris Kampsen, Pablo Spinacci, Juan Bollini), Tackeria Invitational; and Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Brandon Phillips, Jason Crowder), US Trust Cup. The Polo Gear Challenge final, postponed by rain, is yet to be played.
During the 2019 fall season, the nation’s largest polo club is hosting both medium and high goal polo featuring six medium goal tournaments and two 20-goal tournaments.
The fall season serves as a tuneup for the winter season for players and green horses. The winter season will feature the second season of the highly-successful 26-goal World Polo League at Grand Champions and Valiente Polo Farm with the best polo players in the world.
The 2019 fall season is highlighted by the International Cup featuring Team USA against France; Legends of Polo Carlos Gracida Memorial, inaugural Wellington Open 20 and USPA National 20.
The well-organized fall tournaments attract players from all over the United States and world including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, England, France, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Uruguay, Switzerland, Nigeria and South Africa.
Grand Champions had its finest fall season in club history last year. It was the only club in the nation to stage two USPA-sanctioned 20-goal fall tournaments and again is hosting 20-goal tournaments this season.
The Grand Champions Fall Invitational League is geared toward improving a player’s polo skills at every level. Roster lineups change from tournament to tournament with evenly-matched teams featuring pro and amateur players.
Club owners Marc and Melissa Ganzi, both accomplished players, take pride in teaching and sharing the exciting sport of polo with anyone interested in learning. The husband and wife are coming off their most successful and historical summer season at Grand Champions’ sister club Aspen Valley Polo Club.
The fall league features: stick-and-ball sessions during the week; two tournament games every weekend; ambulance and umpires for all tournament games; world-class polo fields; club-sponsored social events every weekend for all players; and top-of-the-line trophies for all teams every weekend. Food and refreshments are available for players and fans after the finals.
Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm cater 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 at the turnkey facility.
The Polo School, a 501c3 organization and stand-alone USPA club, is dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grass roots youth. Its’ mission is to provide individuals opportunities in polo at every economic and ability level. Scholarships are available. The Polo School, a stand-alone USPA club, operates in Wellington January through May and September through November. For more information on the Fall Leagues or Polo School contact Juan Bollini at 561-346-1099.
2019 Grand Champions Fall Schedule
Nov. 15-17, Pedro Morrison Memorial
Nov. 16-23, Wellington Open 20
Nov. 18-27, USPA National 20
Nov. 30 1 p.m.
Legends of Polo Carlos Gracida Memorial
Nov. 30 3 p.m.
2019 International Cup, USA vs. France