U.S. Trust Team's Kampsen, Ganzi and Finlayson Win Inaugural U.S. Polo Assn. Central Park Polo Challenge

Monday, September 22, 2014
Posted by Lauren Fisher for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Photo Credit Kit Houghton/Rolex and David Handschuh
Photo Credit Kit Houghton/Rolex and David Handschuh

New York, NY  - The Central Park Horse Show (CPHS), presented by Rolex and produced by The Chronicle of the Horse, concluded a fantastic inaugural event on Sunday with matinee performances and an afternoon of polo in Central Park's Trump Rink in New York City. The U.S. Polo Assn. Central Park Polo Challenge served as the weekend's finale competition with a win for the U.S. Trust Team made up of players Kris Kampsen, Marc Ganzi and Wesley Finlayson. The Central Park Horse Show would like to thank its wonderful sponsors, competitors, staff, and spectators for making the event's debut an incredible success.

Capping off four days of world-class equestrian competition, the U.S. Polo Assn. Central Park Polo Challenge featured match-ups of three teams each made up of three highly talented American polo players. The winning team for U.S. Trust celebrated victory with Kampsen, Ganzi, and Finlayson. The FlexJet team of Melissa Ganzi, Charlie Muldoon, and Juan Bollini finished second, and the U.S. Polo Assn.'s team of Nic Roldan, Juancito Bollini, and Grant Ganzi earned a third place finish. All of the players rode horses generously provided by the Ganzi Family and Grand Champions Polo Club. Kampsen was named MVP, and Open Corchos was Best Playing Pony.

Photo Credit Kit Houghton/Rolex and David Handschuh
Photo Credit Kit Houghton/Rolex and David Handschuh

"This has been an extremely exciting event for us to have polo here in Central Park," stated Jackie Harrigan, Vice President of Marketing for the U.S. Polo Assn. "All of our money goes back to funding the sport of polo, to growing it, and developing intercollegiate and interscholastic programs. This is a really special event for us, and we hope to be a part of it next year."

Leading his U.S. Trust team to victory, top player Kris Kampsen had fun competing in the wonderful location with close friends.

"It was incredible. It was a great experience to be in New York playing polo, and playing with your friends was unbelievable. The event, the venue, the organization that it took to get this done was bar none. It was phenomenal," Kampsen stated. "When you are out there playing you zone everything out and then all of a sudden there is a stoppage of play and you look up and you are like, 'Wow, look at the venue that we are in!' It is unbelievable."

"This is a one-of-a-kind experience to be in the center of Manhattan doing this," Kampsen added. "I could not have asked for a better outcome and better friends and teammates to play with and against. It was great."

Photo Credit Kit Houghton/Rolex and David Handschuh
Photo Credit Kit Houghton/Rolex and David Handschuh

Melissa Ganzi enjoyed her experience playing in the momentous game and thanked the organizers for their vision in making everything happen. "I want to thank Mark and Katherine Bellissimo for having the dream and making all of this possible and setting up this amazing venue," Ganzi acknowledged. "It was quite complicated, the logistics of getting horses into Central Park, but with Michael Stone and Bobby Murphy, we were able to get all of that accomplished. I look forward to next year, and I am really honored and privileged to have been a part of it."

"The atmosphere was energizing," Ganzi noted. "I think the crowd really enjoyed the game. The spectator's level of interest and attention was pretty exceptional for a lot of people that possibly have never seen polo before. I was impressed, and I could feel their energy while we were playing."

Nic Roldan saw his help and support of the event pay off with the great success of Sunday's competition. "There was a lot of work that went into making this all happen. Obviously Marc and Melissa Ganzi had a very big part, and if it weren't for Mark Bellissimo, we would not be here," Roldan stated. "We looked at the setting and just couldn't imagine a better place to play polo. Our first experience here was better than any experience that I have had. The ring was amazing, the setting and the weather were great, and the fans were great. I think we had a great turnout. I think all in all the event was a huge success, and we look forward to coming back next year."

Photo Credit Kit Houghton/Rolex and David Handschuh
Photo Credit Kit Houghton/Rolex and David Handschuh

CEO of the U.S. Polo Assn., Peter Rizzo, attended all of the weekend's fun exhibitions and great competition and was thrilled to expose the sport of polo to a broad range of spectators in this historic event.

"The last time polo like this was played in New York was in 1876, so bringing it back to Manhattan and bringing it back to this kind of audience is remarkable," Rizzo stated. "It was a pleasure being here with other horses and all of the other disciplines to be able to show our game to a wider audience, so we are very happy."

As part of the United States Polo Association's ongoing program to expose sports fans nationwide to the sport of polo, the match will be telecast on the NBC Sports Network (NBC SN) on October 4 at 3:30 p.m. EST. It will be the first ever nationwide telecast of an arena polo match.

U.S. Polo Assocation President Joe Meyer looks forward to seeing the Central Park Polo Challenge broadcast to help promote the sport across the country.

Photo Credit Kit Houghton/Rolex and David Handschuh
Photo Credit Kit Houghton/Rolex and David Handschuh

"We have 250 polo clubs in the United States, and I think that what happened here is probably the most historic event in a long time," Meyer said. "The Bellissimos did a spectacular job of organizing this and figuring out how to pull it together, and the U.S. Polo Association is excited about working with them to continue to share the sport with the rest of the world through New York City."

"One of the things that we are trying to do is to get polo to become well known throughout the United States, and doing that through TV has helped us significantly," Meyer stated. "For the last couple of years we have been working with NBC Sports and showing some of our best and what I would call highest grade of polo in the United States. We are all players, we love the game, we love the horses, and the chance that people get to see this happen at this historic event here in Central Park in the middle of New York City has been fantastic."

Sunday also featured two matinee performances with various exhibitions representing different disciplines of equestrian sport. The United States Pony Club Games highlighted New York's top young Pony Club riders in a series of entertaining and competitive games. The inaugural Central Park Grand National Shetland Pony Steeplechase races, part of the WIHS Shetland Pony Steeplechase Series presented by Charles Owen, saw jockeys age seven to 16 riding atop one of the world's most adorable pony breeds.

Photo Credit Kit Houghton/Rolex and David Handschuh
Photo Credit Kit Houghton/Rolex and David Handschuh

Young dressage phenom Barbara "Bebe" Davis represented the next generation of dressage stars. Polo's rising stars took to the ring thanks to support from Wellington's Grand Champions Polo Club. One-of-a-kind inspirational equestrian entertainment concluded the matinees as Australian Horseman Guy McLean and his equine partners demonstrated the strong bond between horses and humans. McLean then returned for an encore performance following the polo match as fans could not get enough of his incredible horses.

Along with the wonderful competition and exhibitions, VIP guests enjoyed beautiful seating and dining thanks to VERANDA magazine. VERANDA magazine is the sponsor of the interior design of the VIP tent including crystal chandeliers from Troy Lighting and carpets from New Moon.

Sunday's competition concluded the Central Park Horse Show's momentous first event. For more information, please visit www.centralparkhorseshow.com

Hello There