Wellington, FL - A star-studded lineup will compete in the two-day USPA Kay Colee Memorial Tournament presented by The Tackeria Friday and Sunday. Eight-goal Hall of Famer Mike Azzaro leads the pro lineup that also includes 8-goaler Nic Roldan, 7-goaler Michel Dorignac, 6-goalers Kris Kampsen and Luis Escobar and 5-goalers Juan Bollini and Brandon Phillips.
Azzaro, raised to 8-goals in June, is coming off an outstanding 2013 high goal winter season that included a U.S. Open title with Zacara. Azzaro and Roldan recently represented the U.S. and Dorignac for Argentina in the Oct. 1-5 Fortune Heights Super Nations Cup in China.
The five-team tournament begins Friday at 10 a.m. at Palm City Polo Club in Boca Raton. Newport, Beluga and ELG will compete in a round robin. At 5 p.m. at Grand Champions Polo Club in Wellington, Palm House plays Casablanca.
The championship final is Sunday at 10 a.m. followed by the consolation at noon, both at Grand Champions Polo Club.
The team lineups are:
Beluga (14 goals): Misha Rodzianko, Leo Mandelbaum, Joey Casey, Brandon Phillips
Casablanca (12 goals): Juancito Bollini, Grant Ganzi, Wes Finlayson, Mike Azzaro
ELG Polo (12 goals): Avery Chapman, Melissa Ganzi, Juan Bollini, Kris Kampsen
Newport (14 goals): Kaisser Maakar, Gene Goldstein, Michel Dorignac, Luis Escobar
Palm House (12 goals): Marc Ganzi, Glenn Straub, Carlitos Gracida, Nic Roldan.
Dorignac, 27, will make his fall debut at Grand Champions. Dorignac was a member of the Argentine team at the Super Nations Cup.
Familiar faces making their fall season debut are Glenn Straub of Palm House and newly-elected USPA Board of Governors members Melissa Ganzi and Avery Chapman.
For Casey, a longtime player and coach, the tournament is bittersweet. Kay Colee was his grandfather. The tournament was named for a teammate and friend of polo legend John T. Oxley. The tournament started at the former Royal Palm Polo Sports Club and played there for more than twenty years. "We have been playing the tournament since 1964," Casey said. "It's fun to play and in the family. We played it in Boca forever and now we are playing at Grand Champions. It is one of the oldest polo tournaments around here."
After two weeks of players shaking the rust off and working green horses, Casey said the competition is expected to heat up beginning with this weekend's tournament. "Each week it gets a little more competitive, after a while it gets really competitive," Casey said. In last year's Kay Colee Memorial, Flat Out/Equine Law won the title with an 11-9 victory over Newport Polo and Audi won the round robin consolation.
This is the third of six medium-goal tournaments of the fall season which looks to be the most competitive in Grand Champion's history. Two additional 20-goal tournaments are scheduled for November. The remaining fall tournaments are the Oct. 18-20 US Trust Cup, Oct. 25-27 USPA Fall Plates; and Nov.1-3 Pedro Morrison Memorial. The two 20-goal tournaments are the Oct. 30-Nov. 9 USPA North America Cup and Nov.13-24 The National 20-Goal Championship.
During the 2012 fall season, Audi dominated the season winning back-to-back USPA North America Cup and USPA National 20-Goal Tournament titles with Marc Ganzi, Carlitos Gracida, Nic Roldan and Hall of Famer and former 10-goaler Carlos Gracida. In the national 20-goal final, Audi edged Piaget, 10-9.
The fall season is also great preparation for the 20- and 26-goal seasons for 2014 in Wellington. The fall season is fun and competitive. Rosters and lineups change from tournament to tournament. Evenly-matched teams are put together to help improve players skills and performance. All tournaments are USPA-sanctioned and have grown in stature since their start in the mid-1990s.
Casablanca, one of Grand Champions' fall season's main sponsors, has been a pioneer in polo, recognized as the world's foremost producer of cutting-edge polo equipment and apparel, used and worn by polo players and followers of the sport.
The Tackeria in Wellington is the local distributor of Casablanca merchandise which can also be found online at www.casablancapolo.com. The Tackeria, located at 13501 South Shore Boulevard in Wellington, is a complete equestrian shop catering to all horse sports including polo. The store carries a full range of polo gear, saddles and apparel. Store hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
GRAND CHAMPIONS FALL SCHEDULE
Oct. 11-13, USPA Kay Colee Memorial presented by The Tackeria
Oct. 18-20, US Trust Cup
Oct. 25-27, USPA Fall Plates
Oct. 30-Nov. 9, USPA North America Cup
Nov. 1-3, Pedro Morrison Memorial
Nov. 13-24,The National 20-Goal Championship
PALM CITY POLO CLUB
WHERE: 18000 Jog Road, Boca Raton, 561-289-9099 (Club entrance is the first flashing light north of Clint Moore Road).
GRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUB
WHERE: 13444 Southfields Road, on the corner of South Shore Boulevard and Lake Worth Road, Wellington, 561-644-5050.
INFORMATION: There are great field side views for tournament action at the home base of pro team Audi. Everyone is welcome to watch high and medium goal polo in a relaxed atmosphere during the spring and fall tournament season and other special events including the International Cup in November, Buzz Welker Memorial Junior Tournament in March, Women's Championship Tournament and Gay Polo League International Tournament, both in April.