Flexjet and Mountain Chevrolet will meet in the championship final Sunday in the ChukkerTV Challenge Cup at Aspen Valley Polo Club’s McClure River Ranch.
By Sharon Robb
Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, Gussie Busch, Kris Kampsen, Juan Bollini) advanced with a 6-3 victory over Sopris Mountain Ranch (Lauren Sherry, Lucas Lalor, Gabriel Gracida, Tommy Collingwood) and 5-3 upset over Piocho Ranch (Hilario Figueras, Pablo Spinacci, Nacho Figueras, Tom Barrack).
Mountain Chevrolet (Michael Payne, Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Nacho Novillo Astrada) defeated La Karina, 5-4, and tied Los Amigos Red, 6-6, to advance by one net goal.
Flexjet and Mountain Chevrolet will play Sunday at 11 a.m. at McClure River Ranch Field One. It will be Flexjet’s second final appearance, after playing in the season-opening Independence Cup and Mountain Chevrolet’s championship debut.
At 12:30 p.m., the Just For The Fun Of It subsidiary will feature La Karina and Piocho Ranch playing for third place, also at McClure River Ranch. And, at 2 p.m., the Just For The Love Of It subsidiary will have Los Amigos Red playing Sopris Mountain Ranch for fifth place at Aspen Valley Polo Club to end a full, fun, competitive day of polo.
On Saturday at Sopris Mountain Ranch, the “Polo Dreaming” Tournament will be held at 11 a.m. followed by Kidz Polo at 11:30 a.m.
In Friday’s opening round robin at McClure River Ranch Field One, Collingwood finished with six goals including a 140-yarder from a standstill in his club debut. Hilario Figueras had five goals and Kris Kampsen had four goals.
In the other opening round robin game, Piocho Ranch edged Sopris Mountain Ranch, 6-5. Collingwood rallied his team in the third and final chukker with three goals but fell short.Flexjet was impressive in its six chukkers dominating Sopris Mountain Ranch and Piocho Ranch, winners of the season-opening Independence Cup.
Trailing Sopris Mountain Ranch, 3-2, going into the third and final chukker, Flexjet outscored them, 4-0, with all four players scoring. Against Piocho Ranch, Flexjet broke open a 1-1 opening chukker and pulled away for a 4-1 lead on Juan Bollini’s lofted 120-yarder with 2:43 left in the second chukker. Piocho Ranch came within one goal at the end of the second chukker but could get no closer.
Playing for the first time on the new McClure River Ranch Field 2, the second round robin featured balanced scoring. Brian Boyd, Michael Payne, Paul Foster and Alejandro Novillo Astrada each had four goals.
Mountain Chevrolet, playing its best polo of the summer season, was tied with La Karina 2-2 after the first chukker and led 4-3 on Nacho Novillo Astrada’s goal to end the second chukker. Mountain Chevrolet turned on the defense in the third chukker to maintain its lead.Mountain Chevrolet held on for a 6-6 tie with Los Amigos Red, last week’s Craig Sakin Memorial winner, behind Grant Ganzi’s three goals, Payne’s two goals and Bollini’s one goal. Alejandro Novillo Astrada scored in the closing seconds to tie the game but ran out of time to rally.
In the other round robin matchup, Los Amigos Red and La Karina tied, 4-4.Sunday’s final will be a real family affair featuring mother against son, Melissa and Grant Ganzi and father against son, Juan and Juancito Bollini.
Last year’s ChukkerTV Challenge Cup winner was Los Amigos Blue (Paul Foster, Grant Ganzi, Lucas Lalor, Pablo Dorignac), 11-9 winners over Los Amigos Red (Alejandra Foster, Riley Ganzi, Nacho Novillo Astrada, Juan Bollini). The score was tied 8-8 going into the final chukker. Paul Foster was named Most Valuable Player. The ChukkerTV Challenge Cup is the third of eleven grass tournaments and three arena tournaments being staged at AVPC in what is expected to be its best season.
The first two tournament winners were Piocho Ranch (Gabriel Gracida, Salvador Ulloa, Nacho Figueras, Tom Barrack) in the Independence Cup and Los Amigos Red (Paul Foster, Hilario Figueras, Nacho Novillo Astrada, Lucas Lalor) in the Craig Sakin Memorial.Among the 2019 summer highlights is the 119th USPA Silver Cup. The Aug. 11 final, set for one of the club’s two newest fields at McClure River Ranch, will be coupled with the annual Chukkers, Champagne & Caviar fundraiser.
Other top tournaments are the July 14-20 USPA North American Cup, July 23-August 6 USPA National Arena Handicap, Aug. 7-14 Arena World Cup and Sept. 1-8 Triple Crown of Polo.The club’s summer marquis charity event, hosted by club owners Marc and Melissa Ganzi and Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation, has raised more than $1 million dollars in the last two years to benefit Aspen Valley Hospital.
Ticket packages range from $250 (Early Bird general admission single ticket if purchased before July 11) to $25,000 Luxury VIP Gold (table for 12) and $100,000 Luxury VIP Diamond package (30 guests). The $50,000 Luxury VIP Platinum (20 guests) has already sold out. For more information call 970-544-1302.
With the majestic 12,965-foot summit of Mount Sopris as a backdrop, Aspen Valley Polo Club is one of the busiest and fastest growing USPA-sanctioned clubs in the nation with a membership increase of 75 percent over four seasons.
Since Marc and Melissa Ganzi founded the club in 2014, polo has increased in popularity in Aspen and surrounding cities with the club’s offerings of various weekly grass and arena tournaments, Tuesday’s Arena Polo and Asado, Kidz Polo, The Polo School headed by former 8-goaler Juan Bollini, and Polo On Demand. In addition, the club offers practice sessions for teams competing in the weekend tournaments.Aspen Valley Polo Club has had a positive impact in the area hosting kids polo camps, teaching lessons and several charitable events at the club that have benefitted local charities.
The Ganzis are avid players and patrons and “have created a polo paradise” according to Piocho Ranch padron Tom Barrack. “You can go all over the world but you can’t have these kind of people, players and horses in this setting. It’s really a gift.” Players, sponsors, community leaders and fans share Barrack’s sentiments.All ages are welcome to enjoy polo at Aspen Valley Polo Club, the summer destination for polo. Admission, food and refreshments are free for fans in a relaxed, laidback atmosphere. An added feature is the club’s Jumbotron which made its debut last summer for the fans’ enjoyment, Aspen Valley Polo Club Boutique and new electronic scoreboard.