Wellington, FL-July 24, 2013 - Longtime teammates Marc Ganzi and Nic Roldan head the U.S. team roster for Sunday's Westchester Cup against England in Windsor Great Park's Guards Polo Club in England.The oldest rivalry in U.S. polo history dating back to 1886 features one of the most coveted and prestigious Cups in the game.
It will be the 16th time the competition will be held between the two countries and is the flagship event of the Audi International Polo Series and featured event of the Hurlingham Polo Association, the UK's sport's governing body. The U.S. leads the head-to-head competition with ten victories but England has won their last two meetings in 1997 and 2009.
Ganzi, one of the nation's top amateur polo players, will be joined by Roldan, an 8-goal rated player and Cardinal Newman High School alum; Hall of Famer Mike Azzaro, recently raised to 8 goals after an outstanding 2013 high goal season and Polito Pieres, a 9-goaler.
England's 28-goal team features 8-goaler John Paul Clarkin, 7-goalers James Beim and Luke Tomlinson and 6-goaler Mark Tomlinson. Luke Tomlinson, captain of the Audi England team, will play at back with Beim playing at the No. 1 position and Mark Tomlinson playing at No. 2.
In keeping with tradition and rules of the Westchester Cup, which allows England to feature one player from the Commonwealth, New Zealand's JP Clarkin will play for England at No. 3.
Ganzi and Roldan were teammates on the 2009 U.S. team that suffered a heartbreaking 10-9 loss to England on U.S. soil in their last Westchester Cup meeting in Wellington. In 1997, England won, 12-9. "Any time you play England, you know you're in for six chukkers of a war when these two countries get together," Ganzi said of the fierce rivalry. Ganzi will play five of his prized ponies.
"The last time these guys came here for the Westchester Cup (2009) we didn't defend our home court and they beat us badly," Ganzi said. "That match was a tough one for us to swallow. This is a rare and fabled competition that gave rise to polo throughout the U.S."
The U.S. team, which has been practicing for more than week on British soil, is being sponsored by Equus & Co. "This is the most historical tournament, it's what Americans strive for," said Roldan, team captain of the Equus & Co. USA Team. "It is emotional. We are playing for our country. Thanks to Marc, he is the one that's taking us over there.
"Winning the Westchester Cup is every man's dream in polo," Roldan said. "It's America. We are all very patriotic. To win for the U.S., there is no greater feeling. It doesn't get any better. It is a different feeling when you are representing your country and wearing red, white and blue."
In November, 2012, Ganzi and Roldan played a big part in a winning Team USA effort against England, 8.5-6, in the International Cup at Wellington-based Grand Champions Polo Club, which Ganzi and his wife Melissa own and host polo events year-round and is home base for the Audi and Piaget pro teams. Roldan was the game's Most Valuable Player.
In addition to the afternoon Westchester Cup match, the day will begin with a morning match for the Diamond Jubilee Trophy, featuring a Prince of Wales team against a Hurlingham squad.
Sunday's match will be taped for re-broadcast on NBC Sports Network on Aug. 11 at 4 p.m.
GRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUB
WHERE: On the corner of South Shore Boulevard and Lake Worth Road, Wellington.
INFORMATION: There are great field side views for tournament action at the home base of pro teams Audi and Piaget. Everyone is welcome to watch 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.