On a cool, breezy Sunday afternoon, Dutta Corp defended its title and became the winningest team in the spring season after capturing its second tournament in three weeks.
The foursome of father-and-son Tim and Timmy Dutta, Piki Diaz Alberdi and Carlitos Gracida led from start-to-finish to defeat Deeridge (Pablo Dorignac, Grant Ganzi, Will Jacobs, Guille Aguero), 14-8, in the final of the USPA Sun Cup at Grand Champions Polo Club.
Dutta Corp, an 11-goal team, has won two of the first three tournaments of the season. In addition to winning the five-team USPA Sun Cup, Dutta Corp also won the season-opening Santa Rita Abierto with a 12-5 victory over Whitehall Ranch.
In last year’s Sun Cup final, Dutta Corp (Timmy Dutta, Tony Calle, Piki Diaz Alberdi, Brandon Phillips) knocked off Newport (Gene Goldstein, Grant Ganzi, Julio Arellano, Juancito Bollini), 8-6.
In Sunday’s final, Dutta Corp started off with a 2-0 lead on handicap and soon extended it to 4-1, 6-2 and 7-3 after three chukkers. Deeridge could never get its offensive attack going in the second half.
“This is an 11-goal team, we are the underdog,” Dutta said. “My dad started playing polo in India and I started playing here when I was 12. He is the one that brought me into it. I have to give everything to him and this team. I met Piki through Grand Champions. Carlitos has been a family friend forever. This has really been a family affair. That’s what makes us sharper than anyone else. We are family, my dad is my dad and friend, Piki is like another father to me and Carlitos is like a brother to me. How many players can say their dad is their teammate?”
Carlitos Gracida, the oldest son of Hall of Famer and former 10-goaler Carlos Gracida, was named Most Valuable Player. Gracida scored a team-high six goals over four chukkers and dominated the game.
Gracida’s sixth chukker horse, Vicki, a 6-year-old mare named after trainer and polo player Vicki Armour, was selected Best Playing Pony.
“Carlitos was fantastic today,” Timmy Dutta said. “I have learned so much from him. I hope we can keep this momentum going. It’s just a matter of us and the horses being on and that’s what happened today.”
Dutta Corp is following in the footsteps of Postage Stamp Farm and Travieso, which got their start at Grand Champions Polo Club in medium goal tournaments and now playing high goal events. Travieso made its U.S. Open debut this season. Postage Stamp Farm will play in Greenwich for the second consecutive summer.
“We have been working on this team for two years,” Alberdi said. “Timmy is changing a lot. He is improving. Every day he is playing better. Tim, also, is playing back and saving us all the time. Carlitos and myself are playing and improving. Every game we know each other better. Every day we get stronger. Today I think we played very well. We had our plan and we worked hard. We scored early goals that they couldn’t make up.”
At 14, Will Jacobs, the youngest player in the tournament, was making his debut in a medium goal tournament final.
Dutta, 15, was the second youngest player in the field.
“We started out the same as Postage Stamp Farm and Travieso at 12 and 16 goals and I was lucky enough to play with Piki at this wonderful club that Melissa and Marc have created,” Timmy Dutta said.
“We played 20 goals at Grand Champions this year and that was one of our stepping stones,” Dutta said. “Hopefully, you will see us at the U.S. Open in 2019. It’s the long range goal.”
Tim Dutta, enjoying his return to the sport, is pleased with the team’s progress in three years.
“Piki does a hell of a job, he keeps the whole orchestration going, it’s just amazing,” Dutta said. “We changed the team a little bit. I am playing back. We wear a jersey but we work for each other. We are not ball hogs. The key is to get the ball up to the boys and the push they have, nobody can stop us. They are incredibly mounted, they are tough and they go. We know each other, we don’t need to talk. We know our mistakes, we know our strengths and weaknesses.”
Also scoring for Dutta Corp, Timmy Dutta had three goals, Alberdi had two and Tim Dutta added one. Ganzi led Deeridge with a team-high six goals including four penalty conversions. Dorignac added two goals.
In the subsidiary round-robin, Sebucan (Alex Webb, Pablo Pulido, JJ Celis, Brandon Phillips) won the consolation title. It was the final U.S. appearance of British player Alex Webb who is returning to England to compete.
Audi’s Rich Desich, one of the club’s most improved players, was named Most Valuable Player.
In the opening round Dutta Corp advanced into the final with a 12-8 victory over Whitehall Ranch (Bill Lane, Jason Crowder, Lucas Lalor, Melissa Ganzi). Deeridge advanced after winning the three-team round-robin against Sebucan and Audi with a 14-goal total. Sebucan and Audi each finished with 11 goals.
The USPA Sun Cup was the third of six medium-goal tournaments offered in April and May as the GCPC Spring Invitational League. Upcoming spring tournaments are: May 12-14, Spring Challenge Cup; May 19-21, Polo Gear Invitational and May 26-29, The Memorial.
During the Grand Champions’ spring season, amateur polo players get the chance to play with and against some of the world’s top professional polo players. It is geared towards improving polo skills and having fun.
“We are focusing on the game and concentrating on giving everyone an opportunity to play polo and improve their game,” said Polo School Director and former 8-goaler Juan Bollini. “Marc and Melissa (Ganzi) have opened Grand Champions to anybody in polo. We have great tournaments here. We are really trying to make polo better in America. We want to show the world we can have the best polo for everyone.”
The spring league is also a great opportunity for younger players such as Jacobs and Dutta to develop and hone their skills against their peers and more experienced players.
The GCPC spring league features: medium goal practice games at least once a week; stick-and-ball sessions available during the week; two medium goal tournament games for teams every weekend; ambulance and USPA umpires for all tournament games; complete turn-key tournament polo with some of the top professionals in the world; playing polo on some of Wellington’s most prestigious and well-manicured fields; club-sponsored social events every weekend for all players and excellent trophies for all teams every weekend.
Grand Champions hosts polo tournaments ranging from six to 26-goal in addition to special events at its eleven well-manicured fields during the fall, winter and spring seasons.
The spring season is being live-streamed on Wellington-based ChukkerTV, worldwide leaders in polo broadcasting.