Aspen Valley Polo Club, the fastest growing club in the USA, announced its 12-tournament schedule and player lineup for the upcoming summer season.
The 2017 season features last year’s eight grass tournaments and four arena tournaments including the July 25-Aug. 6 USPA National Arena Handicap.
The schedule is: July 2, Independence Cup; July 7-9, ChukkerTV Challenge Cup; July 14-16, Craig Sakin Memorial; July 21-23, Basalt Handicap; July 25-Aug. 6, USPA National Arena Handicap; July 28-30, Emma Challenge;Aug. 4-6, High Alpine Cup; Aug. 8-15, USPA Chairman’s Arena Cup; Aug. 9, ChukkerTV Arena Challenge; Aug. 11-13, Mount Sopris Cup; Aug. 18-20, Rocky Mountain Open; and Aug. 25-27 Carbondale Classic.
With the breathtaking 12,965-foot summit of Mount Sopris as a backdrop, Aspen Valley Polo Club has been one of the busiest with a membership increase of 75 percent over the last two seasons.
Polo has increased in popularity in Aspen and surrounding cities with the club’s offerings of various weekly tournaments, Gladiator Arena Polo, Kids Polo and The Polo School at the club owned by Marc and Melissa Ganzi since 2014, in addition to practice sessions for teams competing in the weekend tournaments and weekly asados.
Players between chukkers in Aspen.
“I think this season is going to be good because we are bringing in a lot of good players and the level of play is going to be fantastic,” said Juan Bollini, Director of Polo Operations.
Aspen Valley Polo Club, coming off its most successful season in club history, has a star-studded roster of players lined up for the summer to compete with and against patrons and amateur players including former 10-goaler Mike Azzaro, brothers 9-goaler Ignacio (Nacho) Novillo Astrada and 8-goaler Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 5-goalers Juan Bollini and Lucas Lalor, 4-goal rated brothers Mariano and Carlitos Gracida, son of legendary polo great Carlos Gracida, 3-goaler Juancito Bollini and 2-goaler Grant Ganzi.
Alejandro Novillo Astrada
The Novillo Astradas are members of a legendary polo family from Argentina based at one of the world’s best polo clubs, La Aguada, founded by their grandfather Julio Novillo Astrada. The family has a tradition of more than 60 years in polo. Another brother Eduardo, Jr., was recently elected new president of the Asociacion Argentina de Polo.
Azzaro is one of the all-time greatest American players based in San Antonio, Tex. The Hall of Famer held the sport’s highest handicap of 10 goals for 10 years. He has won seven U.S. Open titles, third most of any players behind Memo and Carlos Gracida. Azzaro will be making his Aspen debut.
“This is a beautiful place to play and the community has been wonderful supporting polo and the club,” Bollini said. “Marc and Melissa Ganzi have done a great job here promoting polo and teaching the kids. The club and sport is growing every day, every year.
“We have every level of play here and the Polo School with Melissa, who is teaching 13 kids, and I am working with the adults,” Bollini said.
“I am looking forward to the season. I think we are going to have really good 20-goal polo. We have players from Valiente coming and I think we are going to play at Valiente. At one point, I think we might have six 20-goal competitive teams. Aspen is going to be the place for the summer and the future.”
The 2016 summer tournament winners were:
Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi/Jeff Wood, Julio Novillo Astrada, Juan Bollini, Erica Gandomcar-Sachs), Carbondale Classic.
Los Amigos Red (Paul Foster, Carlitos Gracida, Julio Novillo Astrada, Gabriel Gracida), Rocky Mountain Open.
Steta Polo Team (Guillermo Steta, Brian Boyd/Grant Ganzi, Nic Roldan, Carlitos Gracida), Mount Sopris Cup.
ChukkerTV (Lucas Lalor, Carlitos Gracida, Juan Bollini), ChukkerTV Arena Challenge.
Travieso (Paul Foster, Tony Calle, Teo Calle, Alex Gooding) and Los Amigos (Alejandra Foster, Brian Boyd, Alejandro Poma, Stewart Armstrong), tie, High Alpine Cup.
Tonkawa (Jeff Hildebrand, Teo Calle, Tincho Merlos, Jimmy Seward), Emma Challenge.
La Karina (Brian Boyd, Tony Calle, Julio Novillo Astrada, Stewart Armstrong), Basalt Handicap.
Travieso (Teo Calle, Tony Calle, Lucas Lalor, Carlitos Gracida), Craig Sakin Memorial.
Travieso (Alex Gooding, Teo Calle, Sebastian Merlos, Brian Boyd), ChukkerTV Challenge Cup.
Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi/Secundo Merlos, Sebastian Merlos, Carlitos Gracida), Independence Cup arena polo final.
Aspen Valley Polo Club also hosted the USPA National Arena Chairman’s Cup Championship won by Aspen Valley Polo Club (Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Lucas Lalor); USPA-NYTS qualifier won by The Polo School (Nikko Ramirez/Rufino Merlos, Riley Ganzi, Santos Bollini, Grant Ganzi), Charity Day to benefit the Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation and the inaugural Pony Club Day.
Breathtaking backdrop for polo
The Ganzis are avid players and patrons and “have put new life into polo” in the area according to local player Alex Gooding. Several players, sponsors and community leaders share in Gooding’s sentiments.
ChukkerTV, leaders in polo broadcasting, will live stream the summer season schedule.
ASPEN VALLEY POLO CLUB
July 2, Independence Cup
July 7-9, ChukkerTV Challenge Cup
July 14-16, Craig Sakin Memorial
July 21-23, Basalt Handicap
July 25-Aug. 6, USPA National Arena Handicap
July 28-30, Emma Challenge
Aug. 4-6, High Alpine Cup
Aug. 8-15, USPA Chairman’s Arena Cup
Aug. 9, ChukkerTV Arena Challenge
Aug. 11-13, Mount Sopris Cup
Aug. 18-20, Rocky Mountain Open
Aug. 25-27, Carbondale Classic
Dec. 14-17, World Snow Polo Championship.
CLUB ADDRESS: 3275 County Road 100, Carbondale, Colo. 81623
POLO HOTLINE: 970-710-1663
The exclusive Aspen Valley Polo Club is one of the nation’s fastest-growing polo clubs. It offers polo in the summer for players and spectators. The Polo School is available to adults and juniors. It offers individual and group lessons for all levels and ages. For spectators there are great field side views for tournament action, indoor and outdoor arenas and also the Aspen Valley Polo Club Boutique.
Everyone is welcome to watch polo in a relaxed atmosphere with complimentary food and refreshments. Admission and parking are free. For Polo On Demand price rates of group and private lessons, arena chukkers, grass chukkers and individualized “Polo Experience” packages email firstname.lastname@example.org or log onto www.aspenvalleypoloclub.com.