Melissa Ganzi is ready for a new season of polo victory.
Grand Polo Champions Club co-owner and World Polo League cofounder Melissa Ganzi surrounded by her winning thoroughbreds at her Santa Rita Polo Farm in Wellington
After a polo season that was cut short due to COVID-19 last spring, Melissa Ganzi is ready to get back in the saddle. One of the most renowned female polo players in the world, Ganzi is also the co-owner of the Grand Champions Polo Club (gcpolo.com) in Wellington and the co-founder of the World Polo League (worldpolo.org), a team she started with her husband, Marc, and J5 equestrian Bob Jornayvaz in 2018 that will be entering a new competition year next month. We caught up with Ganzi to see what spectators can expect from the WPL this 2021.
World Polo League is entering a new season in February. Are you excited? I would say we are cautiously excited. And I want all to know that we are strictly enforcing CDC health guidelines.
A farrier placing a shoe on a horse’s hoof at the Santa Rita Polo Farm in Wellington
How has polo evolved since your team first debuted in 2018? I think the sport is always evolving. I am thrilled and happy to see so many young girls and women playing the sport. It’s the largest growing sector in polo today.
Will you be riding this year? Of course! And my son, Grant, who won the Founders Cup with his Grand Champions team in 2019, will be competing as well.
Besides the full season at the Grand Champions Polo Club in Wellington, where else will the team be competing this year? We will be going to Aspen and Miami.
A variety of polo mallets
Later on this summer, you are launching World Polo Pride. What can you tell us about it? It’s a new addition to the World Polo family. The event will debut this June to celebrate gay pride, and it’s going to be a highly curated week of polo, food, wine and entertainment.
Whenever one enters your name on Google, the phrase ‘one of the top female polo players in the world’ pops up. How does that make you feel? Humbled.
What motivated you and your husband to establish the World Polo League in the first place? We wanted to preserve the top level of polo and its rich, hallowed tradition in the United States. We are the only 26-goal polo, which is the highest level of the sport played outside of Argentina. It showcases the world’s best equine athletes and 80% of the game is based on the horses, so to play the highest level of polo, the players need the most exceptional equine partners.
Saddles hanging in the farm’s barn
When did you first fall in love with the sport? I grew up [riding], but I found my true passion in polo when in December 2000 my father-in-law, Wally Ganzi, a polo player himself, bought me my first polo pony for my birthday. The rest, as they say, is history.
What is it about polo you love most? The family atmosphere. Not only does my entire family play, but the world’s top players all have children involved in the game. The sport is passed on from generation to generation, which helps it thrive. There’s no greater joy than watching your children share your love for the game and passion for the horses.
What do you hope for the league in the future? I want it to continue to evolve and expand our reach into other markets. It’s about following your passion and living life to the fullest.
Photography by: Nick Mele