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World famous artist Artem Shestakov has been capturing the beautiful essence of the planet for years. Today, the art photographer has extended his portfolio to the beautiful sport of polo.
In February, Shestakov had his first game when he was invited to attend a championship by one of polo’s greatest players, Pablo Mac Donough. The game, which was hosted by the Grand Champions Polo Club in Wellington, Florida, is owned by famous player Melissa Ganzi.
From that poignant moment, Shestakov fell in love with the sport and decided to devote part of his time to photographing and learning more about the noble game.
Recently spent a week in Wellington, he filmed a short documentary about the museum with Ecuadorian director Kristofh Pozo.
During filming, Ganzi, who is president and principal fundraiser of the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame, helped guide the project. Her work on the board and as president of the Polo Training Foundation was instrumental in the project. Ganzi works closely with international polo players such as Pablo Mac Donough, Juan Martín Nero Alejandro Novillo Astrada and Horacio Heguy.
During the process, Shestakov alongside Ganzi prepared to organize several art exhibitions with his art photographs in order to raise funds for the Polo Museum.
The museum is a rich repository of documents and physical treasures which include works of art, historical trophies, artefacts, books, statistics, periodicals, films, videos, recordings and memorabilia.
The Hall of Fame honors sports heroes, annually inducting icons of the past and eligible living heroes of polo. The Hall of Fame Induction Awards Gala Dinner is held annually on the Friday of President’s Day weekend in February.
Growing up in Philadelphia, Melissa Ganzi competed in equestrian events where she was an accomplished rider in dressage, show jumping and cross country. It was in December 2000, when her stepfather and retired polo player, Wally Ganzi, bought her first polo pony for her birthday, that she discovered her true passion. It was the start of her career as one of the country’s top amateur polo players.
Ganzi now plays professionally with and against the men as she sits as the captain of the Seminole Casino Coconut Creek team, based at the Grand Champions Club in Wellington. She and her husband Marc, also a top amateur player, own and maintain the property year round. Ganzi breeds and trains polo ponies at his Santa Rita polo farms in Ocala and Wellington. Among his horse-buying clients is Argentina’s Adolfo Cambiaso, the world’s greatest player of all time who bought Miami, for his world-class polo string.
Ganzi won the Ylvisaker Cup, Les Armor Cup at 26 goals and the Butler Handicap Cup, Hall of Fame Cup, Western Badge and Trophy at 20 goals, Mayor’s Cup, the World Polo League Miami Beach Polo twice, the most recent with Seminole Casino Coconut Creek; Aspen Snow Polo World Championship, North America Cup, US Open Women’s Tournament and has played with several royalty including Prince Harry and his charity Sentebale.
She is one of the few women in the world to compete in the CV Whitney Cup, the USPA Gold Cup and the US Open. She became the first woman in history to win the 35th St. Moritz Snow Polo World Cup with the Badrutt’s Palace Hotel team and was even voted best patron. It was his fourth appearance in the only high-goal tournament played on snow. She was also the first woman to win the Aspen Valley Polo Club Snow Polo World Championship in December 2017 and the Bendura Bank Snow Polo World Cup in 2018.
When not competing in high performance seasonal polo, Ganzi is busy promoting sport at all levels, including youth and women, while teaching at the Wellington and Carbondale Polo School, two independent clubs in the US Polo Association.
Ganzi is selfless and tireless when it comes to organizing and creating polo events, including co-founding the successful World Polo League, the only 26-goal polo shirt staged outside of Argentina. She would like the polo shirt to be adopted by the public, mainstream sports enthusiasts and the media to attract new people to the sport.
Grand Champions are one of the few clubs in the country to offer 20-goal tournaments. The club also offers several innovative tournaments, including a 12-goal, $ 50,000 tournament and a 0-40 World Cup winners at $ 100,000. Ganzi and her husband also relaunched the prestigious Sterling Cup.
Ganzi was honored at the Portrait of a Woman Luncheon, as part of Women’s History Month, for her significant long-term contributions to individuals and various organizations and the positive impact she has had on the community, not only in polo but charity work and organizations that specialize in helping people with disabilities. The Grand Champions Polo Club is a long-standing employer of disabled and physically disabled workers.
Together, Artem Shestakov and Melissa Ganzi hope to continue to promote polo locally, nationally and internationally and leave a lasting legacy in the sport for generations to come.