Travieso Wins ChukkerTV Challenge Cup At Aspen Valley Polo Club; Alex Gooding Named MVP
Arianna Delin, Sharon Robb for Aspen Valley Polo Club
Travieso, building on a winning polo tradition in its’ short history, captured the ChukkerTV Challenge Cup Sunday at Aspen Valley Polo Club.
In front of a good local crowd, Travieso was relentless leading from start-to-finish for a 13-9 victory over Tonkawa.
The foursome of Alex Gooding, Teo Calle, Sebastian Merlos and Brian Boyd had chemistry from the opening chukker against Tonkawa’s Segundo Merlos/Santos Bollini, Julio Novillo Astrada, Marc Ganzi and Jimmy Seward.
Denver-born Gooding, coming off shoulder surgery four months ago, turned in one of his best games in his 22-year polo career with seven goals and was named Most Valuable Player.
Gooding, after a 10-month hiatus from playing polo, is making his Aspen Valley Polo Club debut and plans to compete the entire summer season.
Gooding is just happy to be back playing polo and it showed in this week’s two-day tournament.
“That was great fun,” Gooding said. “I can’t recall ever scoring seven goals. We sorted out our positions on Friday and played well. Just like Friday, we had some key back shots and capitalized on them in the final. It worked out for us. We had a good team. Teo had great energy on the field. It’s always fun playing with guys like that.
“Of course, whenever you have a 9-goaler like Sebastian Merlos on your team it always helps having a John Elway or Peyton Manning quarterbacking making the other guys look good.”
Travieso had leads of 5-2 in the second chukker and 6-2 in the third chukker before taking a 7-4 halftime lead. Winning most of the throw-ins, Travieso continued dominating in the second half with leads of 10-5 in the fourth and 11-5 in the fifth chukkers. With less than two minutes left in the game, Tonkawa cut the lead to 12-9 but ran out of time.
Gooding scored six goals from the field and converted a penalty-two in the fifth chukker. Merlos had four goals and Calle and Boyd each scored once. For Tonkawa, Ganzi led with four goals, all on penalty shots. Astrada added three goals.
Gooding underwent surgery on his right rotator cuff and torn labrum at the Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colo., a world-renowned orthopaedic clinic. He bounced back quickly with rehab and physical therapy.
“I wouldn’t say I am full strength but it worked out today,” Gooding said. “It’s a little sore but I haven’t played in ten months.”
Gooding, who lives in Emma, located between Carbondale and Aspen, is enjoying the resurgence of polo in the area.
“The Ganzis have put new life into polo,” Gooding said. “The club has great potential. The Ganzis have been awesome promoters here in polo and elsewhere. It’s going to continue on here. They have big plans and it seems like it’s happening. I’m glad they invited me to play.”
Mustard, a 10-year-old Argentine mare owned and played by Calle in the fifth chukker, was named Best Playing Pony.
Travieso will try and make it two in a row at this weekend’s Craig Sakin Memorial, which they won last year.
In the ChukkerTV Challenge subsidiary final, Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, Tony Calle, Lucas Lalor, Juancito Bollini) defeated Flexjet (Lauren Sherry, Melissa Ganzi, Carlitos Gracida, Justo Saavedra), 13-9. Calle led with five goals and Grant Ganzi added four, including a 100-yarder late in the sixth chukker.
In between games, fans enjoyed watching a Kids Foot Mallet Exhibition between Polo School Blue (Lorenzo Ramirez, Santos Merlos, Abel Tamplin) and Polo School Green (Lucy Ramirez, Emmett Tamplin, Solon Tamplin, Nikko Ramirez). Polo School Blue won, 8-0, behind four goals by Merlos and two goals each from Ramirez and Tamplin.
The ChukkerTV Challenge Cup was the second of nine summer tournaments. Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi/Secundo Merlos, Sebastian Merlos, Carlitos Gracida) captured the season-opening Independence Cup with a 6-4 in over La Karina in the club’s arena because of bad weather.
Chukker TV, leaders in polo broadcasting, is live streaming the entire summer schedule including the prestigious Louis Vuitton Cup and Rocky Mountain Cup.
ASPEN VALLEY 2016 SUMMER SCHEDULE
July 14-17, Craig Sakin Memorial
July 20-24, Basalt Handicap
July 27-31, Emma Challenge
Aug. 3-7, Louis Vuitton Cup
Aug. 10, ChukkerTV Arena Challenge
Aug. 12-14, Mount Sopris Cup
Aug. 10-21, Rocky Mountain Open