The Top Level Of High-Goal Polo In The United States

The Top Level Of High-Goal Polo In The United States The World Polo League At The Grand Champions Polo Club Showcases The Only 26-Goal Polo Played Outside Of Argentina

By Sharon Robb

The World Polo League, the only 26-goal polo played outside of Argentina, opens its sixth season with a star-studded lineup at the Grand Champions Polo Club in February.

The season-opening All-Star Challenge Tournament kicks off the high-goal season Feb. 6-25 on the club’s well-manicured fields. The All-Star Challenge is the first of four grass tournaments. The others are the Feb. 22 to March 10 Founders Cup, the March 6-23 Palm Beach Open and the March 20 to April 13 Triple Crown.

The WPL then moves to the sands of Miami Beach for the April 19-21 Beach Polo World Cup, and the popular WPL Polo Pride also returns.

The star-studded lineup showcases some of the sport’s best players in the world. Argentine 10-goalers Pablo MacDonough and Jeta Castagnola head the lineup. The pair are coming off winning the 130th Argentine Open with their La Natividad team, capturing the final with a 13-10 win over Adolfo Cambiaso-led La Dolfina Saudi.

MacDonough — ranked as a 10-goaler in Argentina, Great Britain and the United States — earned the Gonzalo Heguy Most Valuable Player Award at the Argentine Open. The crowd-pleaser has won 12 Argentine Opens, 10 Hurlingham Opens and 12 Tortugas Opens. He is one of the most dominant players in the World Polo League and never ceases to amaze fans with his ability.

Castagnola won the Javier Novillo Astrada Award as top scorer of the tournament with 38 goals. Ranked third in the World Polo Tour rankings, Castagnola is one of the sport’s rising stars. He is ranked at 10 goals in Argentina and 9 goals in Great Britain and the U.S. He has won two Argentine Opens and Tortugas Opens, and one British Open, Hurlingham Open and Queens Cup.

The pair will be joined by 10-goaler Juan Martin Nero, a member of the La Dolfina Saudi team. Other top players are former 10-goaler Gonzalito Pieres, Alejandro Novillo Astrada and hometown favorite Nic Roldan, the second highest ranked American player at 8 goals.

The popular World Polo League, with its world-class horses and fast, wide-open play, was created by club owners Melissa and Marc Ganzi. It filled a void left when the United States Polo Association, the sport’s governing body, announced it was lowering high-goal polo to 18-22 goals and would not have 26-goal polo.

The Ganzis wanted to make sure that the world-class league preserved the highest level of polo and its rich tradition in the U.S. The WPL has its own set of simpler, fan-friendly rules to improve the flow of the game, and world-class umpires including top-ranked Gaston Dorignac.

In addition to the successful WPL, four other high-goal tournaments will be held: the Feb. 1-11 Sterling Cup (20 goals), the Feb. 1 to March 31 USPA Butler Handicap 18-22 Goal, the Feb. 7-24 $100,000 World Cup (0-40 goals), and the Feb. 27 to March 10 Santa Rita Abierto (20 goals).

The January through April winter season offers a full array of tournaments for players at every level. Men, women and junior players have a choice of competing in 6-, 8-, 12- and 16-goal leagues, in addition to the weekly Polo School Women’s League, WCT Finals, several junior tournaments under the Polo Training Foundation umbrella and special events.

The Polo School Women’s League, created by Alina Carta and Melissa Ganzi, is for all level female players with an emphasis on beginners and intermediate players. Held every Wednesday from January through April, games are held with an umpire.

Grand Champions will host several spectacular social events including “Chukkers and Cocktails at Sunset” for all levels of polo players and guests.

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

The Grand Champions Polo Club and the Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique private 102-acre polo facility in Wellington with 212 stalls in nine self-contained barns, two exercise tracks, five climate-controlled tack rooms, a vet room, staff quarters, guest house and four polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation, a short work arena and stick-and-ball fields.

Wellington-based CTV Sports, formerly ChukkerTV, is live streaming the entire winter season, the only club in the world to do so, with Dale Schwetz and Jan-Erik Franck calling the action.

The Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm 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. With Polo On Demand, there is an opportunity to tailor an experience to one’s skills and schedule, along with learning from top pros to bring out the best in a player or team.

The Polo School, a nonprofit organization and stand-alone USPA club, is dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grassroots youth. Its mission is to provide individuals opportunities in polo at every economic and ability level. The Polo School operates January through May for the winter season.

For more information on the winter leagues or the polo school, call Juan Bollini at (561) 346-1099 or Cale Newman at (561) 876-2930. The Grand Champions Polo Club is located at 13444 Southfields Road in Wellington. To learn more about the 2024 season, visit