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Cavalia Polo Wins Women's Weekly Polo League Season-Opener At Santa Rita Polo Farm

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Cavalia Polo Wins Women's Weekly Polo League Season-Opener At 
Santa Rita Polo Farm
WELLINGTON, FL., January 3, 2019---The first-of-its kind Women's Weekly Polo League opened its third season Wednesday at Santa Rita Polo Farm.


Umpire Juan Olivera congratulates Hope Arellano of Cavalia Polo.

Cavalia Polo (Alyson Poor, 4, Malicia von Falkenhausen, 2, Hope Arellano, 5, Alina Carta, 4) defeated CrossFit El Cid (Nicole Watson, 2, Belinda Brody, 4, Slaney O'Hanlon, 4, Cecelia Cochran, 5), 5-4.

Arellano, 16, the youngest player in the game, scored the winning goal in the fourth chukker and finished with two goals. 

Carta led Cavalia Polo with a game-high three goals. Watson led CrossFit El Cid with two goals. Brady and O'Hanlon each had one goal. The lead changed hands four times before Arellano's game-winner.

Alina Carta of Cavalia Polo drives downfield.

The only full-time weekly women's polo league in the world was created by Carta, a polo pioneer and one of the highest ranked women in the U.S. in the 1980s, and Melissa Ganzi, Grand Champions Polo Club President, World Polo League co-founder and avid player. 

Both Carta and Ganzi wanted to give women's polo players, the fastest growing sector in the sport, an opportunity to play on a regular basis on world-class polo fields. 

On Wednesday, the women athletes were the first players to compete on one of the well-manicured Santa Rita fields to kick off the 2019 winter season.

All eyes are on the ball as players wait for it to land.

"Melissa is really supportive and gung-ho about it," Carta said. "We are extremely grateful to her and to have the opportunity to play at Santa Rita every week. The field was amazing, it played great.  We had a fabulous time for our first time back out.

"It was a great way to start out the season," Carta said. "It's amazing it's our third year. It's a great place for the girls to have fun, enjoy polo, work on their game and their horses without the pressure. They started a woman's league at Eldorado this year. It's catching on which is great. It's great for the ladies and great for Florida."

Belinda Brody of CrossFit El Cid works the nearside shot with Hope Arellano of Cavalia Polo defending.

Eldorado Polo Club in Indio, Calif. is introducing a Women's Chukker League on Fridays in January. Club officials said if there is enough interest it will be extended through the season.  

"I just think more women are getting involved and enjoying the sport," Carta said. "It's fantastic, not like a few years ago when I played polo with not that many girls. Last night I was so excited to get started."

As the season progresses, Carta expects more players to compete.

Alina Carta of Cavalia Polo and Slaney O'Hanlon are all smiles while riding off the field between chukkers.

"It's going to keep growing," Carta said. "Bring two horses and play one day a week. It still allows the girls to play their tournament polo on the weekend. To think, when I started playing in 1979, we were only two girls. To see this is amazing."

Held every Wednesday during the winter polo season, the Women's Weekly Polo League is sponsored by The Polo School. On the last Wednesday of each month a tournament is held with MVP and BPP trophies and prizes.

Nicole Watson of CrossFit El Cid hits away with Hope Arellano of Cavalia Polo defending.

All team entry fees benefit The Polo School, a stand-alone USPA-sanctioned club. The Polo School offers lessons to men, women and children of all ages and ability levels and offers scholarships.

Grand Champions annually hosts the Sunny Hale's Legacy WCT Finals in April. Hale, a Hall of Famer and 10-goaler who died at age 48, helped raise the awareness and popularity of women's polo throughout the world. The  Women's Argentine Open, recently won by La Dolfina Brava (Mia Cambiaso, 6, Milagros Fernandez Araujo, 7, Nina Clarkin, 10, Candelaria Fernandez Araujo, 8), has helped to validate women's polo.

Cavalia Polo's Hope Arellano hits the ball as she tucks in behind teammate Alina Carta.

Hale, the first woman in U.S. history to win the U.S. Open, spearheaded the sport's growth with the creation of the WCT, the largest women's polo league in the world, and women's polo rankings. The Women's Weekly Polo League offers another opportunity for women players of all ages and skill levels to play on a regular basis.

Alina Carta of Cavalia Polo scores one of her game-high three goals.

Dawn Jones, who competed in the 2018 Women's Argentine Open with Santa Maria de Lobos, and seven other women players including league players Cecelia Cochran and Courtney Asdourain, developed the Women's International Polo Network website (WIPN), a non-profit which recently launched and features women tournament schedules, results, player bios and stories with the objective of connecting women polo players and clubs from around the world.

In addition, this season the U.S. Women's Open will be held in Wellington. The preliminary games are March 10-17 at Port Mayaca and IPC will host the U.S. Open Women's Polo Championship on March 23.

Nicole Watson of CrossFit El Cid scores the first of two goals in the opening chukker.

"This league leads to a lot of other teams getting formed for other tournaments," Carta said. "I want the girls to play well but also have fun, enjoy themselves and be courteous. This is what polo used to be for me."

Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm's 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.

True sportsmanship among opponents Cecelia Cochran of CrossFit El Cid helping with a loose wrap while Hope Arellano of Cavalia Polo holds her horse.

Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique private 102-acre polo facility in Wellington with 120 stalls in five self-contained barns, exercise track, five climate-controlled tack rooms, vet room, staff quarters, guest house and polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation and stick-and-ball fields. 

Alina Carta smiles at Cavalia Polo teammate Hope Arellano after winning the season-opener at Santa Rita.

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 and have been catalysts of the popularity of polo in both Wellington and Aspen.

A visiting egret has the best seat in the house for the women's season-opener. Photos by Gabrielle Stodd

The Polo School has been thriving at Grand Champions and Santa Rita Polo Farm. It 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 operates in Wellington January through June and September through November. Headed by Director of Operations Juan Bollini, The Polo School has nurtured several men and women polo players now playing in the pro and amateur ranks since its inception. 
2019 WINTER SCHEDULE 

JANUARY
Jan. 5-26, Metropolitan Cup (6 goal)
Jan. 4-26, Aspen Valley Cup (8 goal)
Jan. 4-26, Limited Edition (12 goal)
Jan. 26-Feb. 9, Sterling Cup (20 goal)
Women's League (6-12 goal), Every Wednesday & Monthly Final, Santa Rita Polo Farm

FEBRUARY
Feb. 1-23, Halo Polo Trophy (6 goal)
Feb. 1-23, Top Pony Series (8 goal)
Feb. 1-23, Sieber Memorial Trophy (12 Goal)
Feb. 6-17, World Polo League, All-Star Challenge, at Grand Champions & Valiente
Feb. 20-Mar. 3, Founders Cup, at Grand Champions & Valiente
Women's League (6-12 goal), Every Wednesday & Monthly Final at Santa Rita Polo Farm

MARCH
Mar. 1-23, Madelon Bourdieu Memorial (6-goal)
Mar. 1-23, Limited Edition 8-Goal Series
Mar. 1-23, Top Pony 12-Goal Series
March 1-31, $50,000 National 12-Goal
Mar. 1-16, John T. Oxley Memorial (20 Goal)
Mar. 3-24, $100,000 World Cup (0-40 goal)
Mar. 6-24, World Polo League, Palm Beach Open, at Grand Champions & Valiente
Mar. 27-Apr. 14, World Polo League, Triple Crown of Polo, at Grand Champions & Valiente
Women's League (6-12 goal), Every Wednesday at Santa Rita Polo Farm

APRIL 
Apr. 5-20, Las Acacias (4-8 goal)
Apr. 6-20, National President's Cup
April 2-6: Sunny Hale's Legacy WCT Finals, (8 goals, 16 goals, Open) at Grand Champions. 

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 June and September through November. For lessons contact Juan Bollini at 561-346-1099. 


Chukker TV is live streaming the entire winter 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.

STAY CONNECTED:
ChukkerTV, 13444 Southfields Road, Wellington, FL 33414
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