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Speedwell Wins WCT Ladies Weekly League Season Opener At Santa Rita Polo Farm

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Speedwell Wins WCT Ladies Weekly League Season Opener At Santa Rita Polo Farm

WELLINGTON, Fl., January 23, 2020---On a brisk day for polo, the WCT Ladies Weekly League had a successful season opener Wednesday at windswept Santa Rita Polo Farm.


In a four-chukker game pitting two 15-goal teams, Speedwell (Courtney Flynn 1, Hope Arellano, 7, Nicole Watson, 2, Erica Gandomcar, 5) defeated San Saba (Clarissa Echezarreta, 6, Cecelia Cochran, 5, Alina Carta, 4, Julia Echezarreta), 8-1. 

Hope Arellano of Speedwell drives downfield with Alina Carta of San Saba defending.

Arellano, 16, the Brand Ambassador for U.S. Polo Assn. rated at seven goals outdoor and eight goals indoor, scored a game-high six goals. Watson and Gandomcar each had one goal. Cochran scored San Saba's lone goal just before the horn in the third chukker.

"I'm super happy," Arellano said. "My horses went well and it was a fun team. It was great to play with a bunch of friends. It was competitive and so much fun. The level of play has really come up. Women's polo is growing so much and it's a blast to be a part of it."

Hope Arellano of Speedwell keeps possession of the ball with two defenders on her.

Arellano, also a substitute for Jim Zenni on Daily Racing Form in the Ylvisaker Cup, hopes to play the women's league every week this season.

"Getting to come out here and play these are so much fun," Arellano said. "The fields are incredible and Alina and Melissa have done such a great job putting this together. It's great what they are doing for women's polo. I get to try things here and it definitely helps me improve. I've been getting to practice with Daily Racing Form which is a blast and been playing 8-goal, too." 

Players were impressed by the quality of play, horses and well-manicured field at Santa Rita.

Courtney Flynn of Speedwell goes for the big hit downfield with Clarissa Echezarreta of San Saba defending.

"I have heard so much about this league from everyone," said Gandomcar, making her women's league debut. "It's so much fun. There's nothing better than starting your day off playing polo on amazing horses, incredible field and here with all your friends.

"It was good, fast open polo," said Gandomcar. "To get that on a Wednesday morning is just crazy and so much fun playing with your friends."

Gandomcar is in town for a week trying out horses for the March 21-April 19 U.S. Open Women's Polo Championship. Gandomcar is playing the Open with Arellano, Sarah Wiseman and Sarah Siegel-Magness.

Alina Carta of San Saba works her way out of a crowd with the ball.

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. She is the first woman in history to win the prestigious 35th Snow Polo World Cup St. Moritz and is looking to repeat this weekend with defending champion Badrutt's Palace.

"This is great, it was fun," Carta said. "To have two 15-goal teams playing the first week of the season, it doesn't get any better. I'm so excited.

Erica Gandomcar of Speedwell leans into her shot with teammate Hope Arellano
 backing her up.

"It was a first game for some of the horses so the other team was running a little harder than us but it's still great. I'm glad we got started now. Of course, it had to be the coldest, windiest day of the year."

Held every Wednesday during the winter polo season, the WCT Ladies Weekly League is held under The Polo School's umbrella at Santa Rita. On the last Wednesday of each month a tournament is held with MVP and BPP honors and gifts exchanged among players.

Hope Arellano of Speedwell and her horse lean into her shot.

"It's the professionalism today in women's polo that is so impressive," Gandomcar said. "Back when I started playing it was scrappy and you would come out bruised and battered. The level of professionalism has increased great play and that attracts more sponsors and players. It's this whole waterfall. I always say team work makes the dream work for our sport."

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.

Courtney Flynn of Speedwell follows up her shot with Alina Carta of San Saba defending.

The league, along with the WCT Finals at Grand Champions in April, honors Sunny Hale, the all-time greatest women's polo player and Hall of Famer. The part-time Wellington resident died February 26, 2017 in Norman, Okla. due to complications from cancer at age 48.

Hale is one of the sport's pioneers and first woman in polo history to win the 26-goal U.S. Open in an era when the sport was male-dominated. 

Clarissa Echezarreta of San Saba tries to ride off Hope Arellano of Speedwell as she works the ball away from the boards.

Many of the players have competed in qualifiers for the Women's Championship Tournament (WCT), the largest women's league in the world which Hale founded to help open the door and break down barriers for girls and women. 

Female polo players account for 40 percent of players in polo today and continue to be the fastest growing demographic in the sport. Hale has been credited for the growth. She laid the foundation, did the work, gave women opportunities in the sport and is the reason the sport has become so popular among women. Her legacy remains alive through today's generation of women players like Arellano.

Alina Carta of San Saba and Erica Gandomcar of Speedwell battle for the ball.

"Sunny Hale was a pioneer in the game, paved the road for women and created playing opportunities," Arellano said. "I never really got to play with her or see her play. She is just an inspiration to every woman in polo. She is someone that will never be forgotten. She was incredible."

During the winter season in Wellington, Grand Champions is hosting 19 tournaments, the most of any club in the U.S., including five in January. The highlight of the schedule is the second season of the 26-goal World Polo League, featuring at least 11 teams and most of the best players in the sport.

The game's high scorer Hope Arellano of Speedwell works the near side shot.

With 18 safe and well-manicured fields, including 11-tournament grade, the club will host every level of polo for men, women and children including the  WPL, the only 26-goal polo held outside of Argentina featuring the best players in the world.

The club attracts a large international field of players from all corners of the world including Australia, Chile, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Argentina, Canada, Ecuador, Brazil, Switzerland, France, Germany, Uruguay, Venezuela, Azerbaijan, South Africa, Nigeria and England.

Cecelia Cochran of San Saba tries to get past Courtney Flynn of Speedwell.


Grand Champions is coming off its finest fall season in the club's 13-year history. It was the only club in the nation to stage two 20-goal fall tournaments in addition to the International Cup and Legends of Polo Carlos Gracida Memorial. The club also hosted a full schedule of successful and highly-competitive medium goal tournaments.

Grand Champions and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique polo facility, nestled in the heart of the world's winter equestrian capital Wellington. It features 120 stalls in five self-contained barns, exercise track, five climate-controlled tack rooms, vet room, staff quarters, guest house and four polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation including one field for stick-and-ball and new parking lot.

Erica Gandomcar of Speedwell defends Cecelia Cochran of San Saba on a third
 chukker goal run.
Photos by Grand Champions Polo Club

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, created by Melissa Ganzi when the club first opened.

The Polo School, a stand-alone USPA-sanctioned polo club, is 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 May 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.
2020 WINTER SCHEDULE

JANUARY
Metropolitan Cup
Friday 1/24 2 p.m. Altair vs Amista
Friday 1/24 3:30 p.m. Mayer Ranch vs Bushwood
Sunday 1/26 10 a.m. Metropolitan Cup Final

Aspen Valley Cup
Thursday 1/23 1 p.m SD Farms vs Casablanca
Saturday 1/25 3 p.m. Aspen Valley Cup Final

Limited Edition
Thursday 1/23 11 a.m. Newport vs Santa Clara
Friday 1/24 4 p.m. Sebucan vs Beverly Equestrian
Sunday 1/26 10 a.m. The Limited Edition Final
Sunday 1/26 12 p.m. The Limited Edition Handicap Final

WCT Ladies League
Wednesday 1/29 10 a.m. at Santa Rita


JAN 15-25         Sterling Cup, 18-22
JAN 26-Feb 9    $100,000 World Cup, 0-40
JAN-APR           WCT Ladies Wednesday League

FEBRUARY
FEB 1-29            Halo Polo Trophy, 6
FEB 1-29            Top Pony 8 Goal
FEB 1-29            Sieber Memorial Trophy
FEB 6-16            WPL All-Star Challenge
FEB 19-MAR 1    WPL Founders Cup
FEB 25-MAR 8    $50,000 National 12-Goal

MARCH
MAR 1-29             Madelon Bourdieu Memorial
MAR 1-29             Limited Edition 8-Goal Series    
MAR 1-28             Top Pony 12-Goal Series
MAR 4-22             WPL Palm Beach Open
MAR 28-APR 18  WPL Triple Crown of Polo
MAR 31-APR 4    WCT Finals

APRIL
APR 4-19            Las Acacias, 4-8
APR 6-12            U.S. National Mixed Doubles Polo Championship

Polo Hotline 561-644-5050
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. 


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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