By Arianna Delin, Sharon Robb for Aspen Valley Polo Club
In an emotionally-charged tournament, Travieso won its Aspen Valley Polo Club debut.
Travieso (Teo Calle, Marc Ganzi, Nic Roldan, Stewart Armstrong) came from behind to win the second annual Craig Sakin Memorial Cup Sunday in front of a good local crowd and worldwide ChukkerTV audience.
Travieso tied La Karina (Melissa Ganzi, Brian Boyd, Mariano Gracida, Juan Bollini), 5-5, and defeated Mt. Sopris Ranch (Juancito Bollini, Grant Ganzi, Carlitos Gracida, Lucas Lalor), 4-3, to clinch the round-robin tournament with nine cumulative goals.
Mt. Sopris Ranch, which defeated La Karina, 5-3, in the opener, was runner-up.
Stewart Armstrong scored two goals including the winning goal in the final chukker for Travieso and was named Most Valuable Player.
Bella, a 6-year-old Bay mare, owned and played by top American player Nic Roldan in the final chukker, was named Best Playing Pony. Roldan was making his Aspen Valley Polo Club season debut.
It was the fourth tournament victory for Travieso in three months. The Ecuador-based team was the winningest team with three tournament victories during the spring season at Grand Champions Polo Club in Wellington, Fla.
Ganzi led Travieso scoring with five goals including four penalty shots and clutch goal in the ninth chukker. Roldan had three goals and Calle scored one.
Mariano Gracida led La Karina scoring with three goals and older brother Carlitos Gracida led Mt. Sopris Ranch with four goals, including three in the opening chukker.
The third and deciding three-chukker matchup turned into a defensive battle between Mt. Sopris Ranch (1-0-0) and Travieso (0-1-1).
Lalor scored the opening goal with a pass from Gracida to open the first chukker with a 1-0 lead. Roldan’s goal through a crowd of defenders tied the game at 1-1. Late in the chukker, Armstrong saved a goal attempt by Lalor.
In a defensive second chukker, only Ganzi scored on a 30-yard penalty shot to give Travieso a 2-1 lead.
The seesaw battle continued in the third and final chukker. Lalor and Grant Ganzi goals gave Mt. Sopris Ranch the lead, 3-2. Marc Ganzi scored from the field to tie the game and in the final minute Armstrong scored the game-winner.
The second annual tournament was named in honor of Craig Sakin, who passed away on Feb. 11, 2014 at age 52. Sakin, former president of the Homeowners’ Association of Sopris Mountain Ranch, was instrumental in helping Marc and Melissa Ganzi secure their first polo field.
His wife Sally Beneman Sakin presented the awards. Before the game, a moment of silence was observed in Sakin’s memory. Sakin’s wife honored her husband with a tribute and spread some of his ashes on the polo field.
During halftime, the Aspen Valley Polo Club Polo School’s kids put on an amazing foot mallet demonstration with the Red USPA team defeating the Green USPA team.
Four summer tournaments have been played at Aspen Valley Polo Club. Melody Polo Team won the first two tournaments–Independence Cup and ChukkerTV Challenge. Aspen Valley Polo Team won the Aspen Valley Cup and Travieso, the Craig Sakin Memorial.
The remainder of the nine-tournament schedule is this week’s Basalt Handicap; July 28-Aug. 2 Emma Challenge; Aug. 5-9, Louis Vuitton Cup; Aug. 14-16 Mount Sopris Cup; and Aug. 12-23 Rocky Mountain Cup.
ChukkerTV, the leaders in polo broadcasting, is live streaming the club’s tournaments including the prestigious Louis Vuitton Cup and Rocky Mountain Cup, which attracted huge crowds last season.
In addition, ChukkerTV’s Summer Tour, a 13,000-mile cross country trip featuring several U.S. Polo Association tournaments at various U.S. clubs including the Veuve Clicquot Women’s Challenge at Saratoga Polo Club in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. on Friday and Sunday and U.S. Open Arena Championships at Country Farms Polo Club in Medford, N.Y. on Saturday night.