Arianna Delin, Sharon Robb for Aspen Valley Polo Club
Aspen Valley Polo Club will make its debut at the Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships: Horses & Horsepower Saturday at WestWorld of Scottsdale.
Nic Roldan, Melissa Ganzi and Juan Bollini of Aspen Valley Polo Club will play reigning champion Clogau Wales Polo in the featured 3-on-3 polo match at 3 p.m.
It is the first time Aspen Valley Polo Club will compete in the nation’s largest polo event of its kind. A crowd of more than 15,000 is expected.
Last year’s event attracted more than 11,969 attendees, making it the most attended polo event in North America.
Two other polo matches are scheduled including Polo Azteca against Club Polo Cabo at 11 a.m. and Arizona Polo Club, led by Andres Camacho, against San Diego Polo Club at 1 p.m. A 5 p.m. clinic by the Arizona Polo Club will also be held.
The brainchild of Scottsdale public relations executive Jason Rose, the event brings polo to the masses while providing a social backdrop for equestrian enthusiasts.
“I have learned a lot along the way,” Rose said. “Polo is a niche sport but is very aspirational. There are people who get into the sport for the love of horses and we wanted to give people that kind of experience.
“This is defined as the world’s most interesting polo event and we’ll see if we live up to that charge,” Rose said.
Roldan, the top-ranked American player rated at eight goals, returns to the tournament for the second time in tournament’s five-year history.
“I was surprised by the amount of people there, it is a great event for the sport with big-time exposure,” Roldan said. “This event gives people a chance to see what polo is all about. It really puts the sport on the map.”
The biggest polo event in the United States is one of the most extravagant outdoor sports spectacles in Arizona.
In addition to the polo matches, the all-day event will feature sports cars from the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction; the world’s longest fashion show presented by Phoenix Fashion Week; Canine Couture fashion show presented by Applewood Pet Resort and Bark Avenue; fieldside afternoon High Tea tent provided by the Phoenician Resort; a fine art auction by the Larsen Art Gallery; and a preview of the Arabian Horse Show. The Phoenix Symphony will play throughout the day.
Gates open 10 a.m. and ends with the After Party, 4:30-6 p.m. in the Heineken Pavilion presented by Wasted Grain.
Roldan, Ganzi and Bollini have played an integral role in helping to bring polo to the masses and share Rose’s vision to introduce the sport to the general public.
“The success of this event has a lot to do with Jason Rose,” Ganzi said. “Jason has done a wonderful job of bringing in different elements of polo. It is an interesting and exciting event and Aspen Valley Polo Club is happy to be a part of it.
“We are looking to unseat the champions,” Ganzi said. “They need some real competition. We bring a lot of talent and experience to the field.”
Aspen Valley Polo Club, one of the nation’s fastest growing polo clubs, annually hosts the Dec. 16-19 St. Regis World Snow Polo Championships.
Ganzi, one of only a handful of women that play high goal polo against the greatest players in the world, is a major shaker-and-mover in the sport and has played a key role in every facet of the game including the grass roots level of the game, helping to nurture future polo players.
Roldan, the youngest player to compete and win the U.S. Open at 15, has competed in every major tournament around the world and has become one of the sport’s ambassadors. Roldan and his Audi teammates are coming off an impressive East Coast Challenge Tournament title win against polo dynasty White Birch.
“I have played every sport possible and there is nothing like polo,” Roldan said. “It is just a great sport and to be able to play at this level is the opportunity of a lifetime.”
Bollini, a former 8-goal polo player from Argentina, has also played in every major tournament in the world and continues to play at a high level.
“I am looking forward to seeing and playing in this event,” Bollini said. “It is something new in the sport and I am excited about it.”
Bollini, a 30-year veteran of the sport, is head instructor at the Polo School at Aspen Valley Polo Club. He takes beginners through the basics of the game and also helps intermediate and advanced players hone their skills and horsemanship.