United States Arena Handicap Final
CARBONDALE, CO, July 22, 2020—Defending champion Casablanca will meet McClure River Ranch in the final of the United States Arena Handicap Polo Championship at Aspen Valley Polo Club on July 28.
By: Rebecca Baldridge
Photos by: ChukkerTV
Casablanca (Juancito Bollini, 4, Grant Ganzi, 3, and Nic Roldan, 8) defeated Seminole Casino (Melissa Ganzi, 1, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 8, and Juan Bollini, 6) in the opening match of the four-team tournament by a score of 17 to 14.
In the first chukker, Casablanca jumped off to an early lead, with Grant Ganzi scoring 4 goals including a 2-point conversion (in a rule specific to arena polo, shots made from 25 yards are more are awarded two points). Melissa Ganzi also scored on a penalty shot. There was plenty of parent-child rivalry in the arena, with Seminole Casino’s Melissa Ganzi and Juan Bollini facing off against sons Grant and Juancito. Nic Roldan also scored his first 2-pointer of the match. The second chukker saw Seminole Casino fight back. Melissa led the comeback, sliding along the wall to tap the ball in, with Alejandro Novillo Astrada following up with a huge 2-point neck shot. The half ended with Seminole Casino down by 3, with a score of 8-5.
The second chukker saw Seminole Casino outscore Casablanca and narrow the lead to 2 goals. However, Casablanca kept the pressure on to win the match at 17 to 14. Melissa Ganzi was the high scorer of the match with 7 goals, followed by Nic Roldan with 6.
In the second match of the day, McClure River Ranch (Nacho Novillo Astrada, 8, Jared Zenni, 6 and Marc Ganzi, 2) took on Sopris Mountain Ranch (Anthony Devrient, 0, Pablo Spinacci, 6, and Tincho Merlos, 9) in a hard fought match that ended with McClure River Ranch winning by 21-16.
Sopris Mountain started the match with a goal on the board, given McClure River Ranch’s one goal team handicap advantage. Tincho Merlos dominated the scoring for Sopris Mountain in the first chukker, with two, two-pointers. McClure River Ranch also benefitted from the two-point rule, and the chukker ended 6-5. In the second chukker, Merlos fired off another 2-point conversion followed by Pablo Spinacci tying it up at 9 all. The half ended with Sopris Mountain Ranch narrowly ahead at 11-9.
The competition stayed tight through the third chukker, with Merlos and Novilla Astrada both scoring two-point conversions. In the fourth and final chukker though, McClure River Ranch mounted a strong defense to keep the green team off the goal. A goal by Astrada brought the score to 20-15, and Ganzi put the final nail in the coffin in the last minute of the game to see McClure River Ranch win by a score of 21-16. Novillo Astrada and Merlos were the joint high scorers, with 9 goals each.
First played in 1980, the United States Arena Handicap is a national tournament played at the 12-goal level and above. The tournament was formerly played as a subsidiary to the U.S. Open Arena Polo Championship and became a stand-alone tournament in 2017.
Part of the challenge of arena polo is the arena itself, a confined area of 150 feet by 300 feet. The fast-paced, spectator-friendly four-chukker game features teams of three playing on a dirt/sand surface with a larger leather ball resembling a small soccer ball.
The USPA National Arena
Handicap 2020 Rosters
Grant Ganzi 3
Juancito Bollini 4
Nic Roldan 8
McClure River Ranch (16)
Marc Ganzi 2
Nacho Novillo Astrada 8
Jared Zenni 6
Sopris Mountain Ranch (15)
Pablo Spinacci 6
Tincho Merlos 9
Seminole Casino (15)
Melissa Ganzi 1
Alejandro Novillo Astrada 8
Juan Bollini 6
5 p.m. Subsidiary Final Seminole Casino vs Sopris Mountain Ranch
6:15 p.m. USPA National Arena Handicap Final
Casablanca vs McClure River Ranch
Games live streamed in Mountain Standard Time on https://www.globalpolo.com
The United States Polo Association® was organized and exists for the purposes of promoting the game of polo, coordinating the activities of its member clubs and registered players, arranging and supervising polo tournaments, competitions, and games and providing rules, handicaps, and conditions for those tournaments, competitions, and games including the safety and welfare of participants and mounts.
Aspen Valley Polo Club 2020 Summer COVID-19 POLICY:
The AVPC property, facilities, and events are only accessible to polo players, their immediate families, and necessary staff. This policy will remain in effect until further notice.
UPDATES TO COME SOON: Please continue to check our Instagram and website for more updates to come. We are working hard to phase-out a plan that abides by local community guidelines that will keep our organization running, and most importantly, keep our community safe. We thank you for you interest in AVPC, we appreciate your loyalty and understanding.
The AVPC family is immensely grateful and humbled by the excitement and overwhelming support we have received from local and new guests over the years. We hope to open our gates to public once again and see you on the sidelines sometime soon as the situation de-escalates and local community guidelines allow us to do so.
Although Aspen Valley will be closed to spectators, ChukkerTV will livestream the entire 2020 polo series so fans can still enjoy the best polo of the US summer season. ChukkerTV was the first to introduce state-of-the-art live streaming technology and instant replay in January 2014 at Grand Champtions Polo Club in Wellington, Florida.
2020 Aspen Valley Summer Polo Series
USPA National Arena Handicap 7/22 – 7/29
Basalt Handicap 7/24 – 7/26
Emma Challenge Cup 7/30 – 8/2
High Alpine Cup 8/7 – 8/9
Mount Sopris Cup 8/14 – 8/16
Rocky Mountain Open 8/21 – 8/23
Carbondale Classic 8/28 – 8/30
The Triple Crown of Polo 9/1 – 9/6
Watch on ChukkerTV