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Grand Champions Wins Legends Of Polo Carlos Gracida Memorial; Carlitos Gracida Receives Lifetime MVP Award

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Grand Champions Wins Legends Of Polo Carlos Gracida Memorial; Carlitos Gracida Receives Lifetime MVP Award

WELLINGTON, December 1, 2019---In an emotionally-charged game, Grand Champions won the Legends of Polo Carlos Gracida Memorial Saturday at Grand Champions Polo Club.

Ale Poma and Grand Champions teammates hoist the winning Legends of Polo Carlos Memorial trophy with a little help from DePaula/Aspen Valley Polo Club players and Carmen Marin.


Grand Champions (Ale Poma, 2, Jason Crowder, 6, Kris Kampsen, 6, Tommy Biddle, 5) defeated DePaula/Aspen Valley Polo Club (Carlitos Gracida, 4, Sugar Erskine, 6, Horacio Heguy, 6, Juan Bollini, 5), 6-4, in the opening game of a doubleheader that also featured the season-ending International Cup.

Carlitos Gracida of DePaula/Aspen Valley Polo Club reaches to hit the ball.

The sixth annual game honored the legacy of the Hall of Famer and one of the sport's greats, who died tragically in February, 2014 at age 53.

Gracida, one of the sport's most beloved players, started playing when he was 5, reached 10 goals at age 25 and held the highest possible rating for 15 years. He won the U.S. Open nine times and British Open ten times. He was said to be Queen Elizabeth's favorite player. He coached Princes William and Harry and played alongside them several times.

Ale Poma of Grand Champions defends Sugar Erskine of DePaula/Aspen Valley Polo Club as he works the boards.

After Saturday's game, Carlitos Gracida, 28, his oldest son, received the Lifetime MVP award. 

"Every year it becomes more important to me," Gracida said. "I am grateful for everybody that comes and makes it happen. For me, it's an opportunity to play with my friends and with people like Horacio Heguy, who I grew up watching play and watching his tapes. 

Carlitos Gracida of DePaula/Aspen Valley Polo and Tommy Biddle of Grand Champions 
reach for the ball.

"No one will forget my dad. It's nice the polo brought us all together."

Teammates and opponents were all touched in some way by Carlos Gracida in their polo careers. It was the first time Heguy played in the game to honor Gracida.

Sugar Erskine of DePaula/Aspen Valley Polo Club goes to hook Jason Crowder 
of Grand Champions.

"My first Argentine Open I played against him," said the Argentine Open six-time champion and former 10-goaler. "We were not suppose to win that one, they were an amazing team, they lost only one game in six years at Palermo. That game was against us, we were lucky.

"I knew him very well," Heguy said. "I played with him in Rolex and I played against him many times in Wellington and against him in England. It was very important to me to participate in this event that is in the name of Carlos Gracida, a real legend in polo. He was a gentleman and an amazing player, one of the best that played the sport. For me, I remember him very well."

Juan Bollini of DePaula/Aspen Valley Polo Club goes to hit a back shot with Jason Crowd of Grand Champions defending.

It was also Kris Kampsen's first appearance in the Legends game.

Kampsen was 11 when his Carlos' brother Memo brought him to Wellington. Kampsen grew up playing polo with the entire Gracida family. 

Tommy Biddle of Grand Champions runs alongside the boards with Juan Bollini of DePaula/Aspen Valley Polo Club defending.

"I was very lucky to play with both of them," Kampsen said. "When I was 16 Carlos took me to California to play in the 1999 Pacific Coast Open and we lost in the final that year to the Busches and Roldan. The next year he took me to New York and we won in Bridgehampton with Luis Escobar and David Ruben.

"He was more than a mentor, he was a very good friend. Carlitos is like a brother to me. Carlos was always great to me, always a rock star with me."

Kris Kampsen of Grand Champions chases down longtime friend Carlitos Gracida of DePaula/Aspen Valley Polo Club.

Poma led Grand Champions with a game-high three goals and was selected Most Valuable Player. Crowder, Kampsen and Biddle each had one goal. For DePaula/Aspen Valley Polo Club Gracida led with two goals. Erskine and Heguy each had one goal.

"It was a great game," Kampsen said. "We all took it serious because Carlos was that guy, he was a serious guy on the polo field. But off the field he was the best. You could have more fun with him than anybody. He was awesome."

DePaula/Aspen Valley Polo Club teammates Horacio Heguy and Sugar Erskine 
work together for the ball.

Sangria, a 6-year-old Chestnut mare, played in the fourth chukker and bred by Heguy was Grand Champions Best Playing Pony. 

Proceeds from the doubleheader benefit The Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame, a non-profit educational organization, 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.

Juan Bollini of DePaula/Aspen Valley Polo Club hits a hook shot past Ale Poma of Grand Champions Polo Club.

Grand Champions ended another successful fall season on Saturday.

Newport (Gene Goldstein, Grant Ganzi,  Juancito Bollini, Nic Roldan) made club history winning the first-ever Wellington Open high goal tournament of the season.  

Carlitos Gracida of DePaula/Aspen Valley Polo Club keeps his eye on the ball.

The winners of the first five medium goal tournaments at Grand Champions were: Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, Nic Roldan, Pierre Henri Ngoumou), Pedro Morrison Memorial; Newport (Gene Goldstein, Jason Crowder, Kris Kampsen, Juan Bollini), Fall Plates Tournament; 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 was postponed by rain.

Good friend Kris Kampsen and teary-eyed Carlitos Gracida at the 
post-game awards ceremony.

During the 2019 fall season, the nation's largest with 18 polo fields and busiest polo club, hosted both medium and high goal polo tournaments. 
 
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.

Carlitos Gracida,  Lifetime MVP award winner with his mother Carmen Marin.

The fall season served 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.

Best Playing Pony Sangria, played and bred by Argentine Open  six-time 
champion Horacio Heguy.

The club takes pride in teaching and sharing the exciting sport of polo with anyone interested in learning. Grand Champions' sister club Aspen Valley Polo Club is coming off its most successful and historical summer season.

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.

Grand Champions and DePaula/Aspen Valley Polo Club players with awards presenter Carmen Marin and umpires Gaston Dorignac and Roddy Matthews.

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.

Grand Champions awards table for the Legends of Polo Carlos Gracida Memorial Cup.
Photos by Grand Champions Polo Club

THE POLO SCHOOL 

The Polo School at Grand Champions and Director of Operations Juan Bollini are dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grass roots youth. The school's mission is to provide individuals opportunities in polo. The Polo School operates in Wellington January through May and September through November. For lessons contact Juan Bollini at 561-346-1099. 


Chukker TV live-streamed the entire fall polo schedule. ChukkerTV, featuring cutting-edge technology, was the first to introduce state-of-the-art live streaming technology and instant replay in January, 2014 at Grand Champions Polo Club. For advertising opportunities on ChukkerTV please contact Mike Ferreira at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


GRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUB

WHERE: 13444 Southfields Road, on the corner of South Shore Boulevard and Lake Worth Road, Wellington, 33414.

DIRECTOR OF POLO: Juan Olivera, 561-644-5050, juan.olivera@gcpolo.com; hotline  561-644-5050.

INFORMATION: For spectators, there are great field side views for tournament action and also the Grand Champions Polo Club Boutique. The club is home base for pro teams Audi and Flexjet. Everyone is welcome to watch every level of polo in a relaxed atmosphere with food and refreshments during the featured games of the winter, spring and fall tournament seasons and other special events. Admission is free except for some special events.

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