By: Rebecca Baldridge
Photos by: Nick Tininenko and ChukkerTV
Aspen Valley Polo Club kicked off the summer season with three hard-fought matches as part of the Independence Cup.
Despite the lack of spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was no shortage of excitement at McClure River Ranch on Sunday with three matches, the Red, White and Blue, played as part of the Independence Cup.
The first match of the day, the Blue, saw Seminole Casino (Melissa Ganzi, 0, Alejandra Foster, 0, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 8, and Juan Bollini, 5) best Los Amigos (Paul Foster, 0, Vinny Sangaline, 0, Horacio Heguy, 6, and Juan Martin Nero, 10) with a score of 13 to 10.
The ladies made a spectacular showing, with Alejandra Foster scoring the first goal of the match and ending the play with a total of seven goals. Melissa Ganzi and daughter Riley, splitting chukkers, scored two and four goals respectively. Vinny Sangaline scored nine of Los Amigos’ ten goals.
On Field One, the White match pitted Richard Mille (Marc Ganzi, 2, Grant Ganzi, 3, Pablo MacDonough, 10, Juancito Bollini, 4) against Michael Bickford’s La Indiana (Michael Bickford, 2, Stewart Armstrong, 3, Polito Pieres, 10, and Nacho Badiola 5), with Richard Mille winning 11 to 8.
Richard Mille’s Juancito Bollini was hot out of the gate, scoring his first of five goals early in the first chukker. He repeated that play later, scoring just moments into the fourth period. The team also benefited from great teamwork by Marc and Grant Ganzi, and four goals from superstar Pablo MacDonough.
In the final Red match, Spindrift (Gussie Busch, 2, John Bickford, 1, Nic Roldan, 8, and Tincho Merlos, 8) bested Brian Boyd’s La Karina (Brian Boyd, 0.5, Alex Gooding, 2, Pablo Spinacci, 6, Nacho Novillo Astrada, 8) by 8 to 5. Team sponsor Brian Boyd suffered a minor accident in the second chukker and as a precaution, he was taken to Aspen Valley Hospital. Boyd is okay and will return to play soon. Harrison Azzaro, 1.5, took over the number one position. Azzaro showed his mettle in the fourth chukker, scoring a goal with an impressive 120-yard shot.
Sofia, owned and ridden by Pablo MacDonough in the fifth chukker of the White match, was awarded Best Playing Pony.
While admission is traditionally open and free to the public, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the club to close to spectators for the foreseeable future. Aspen Valley Polo Club has taken this step out of an abundance of caution.
Players and staff have been tested in 3 rounds at sister club Grand Champions Polo in Florida since March and will continue to be tested throughout the 2020 summer season.
Aspen Valley Polo Club has also implemented testing for the Carbondale Fire Department, which stations an ambulance field side during all tournaments.
We are closely following the guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC strongly recommends that individuals protect themselves and their communities by minimizing the time spent with others in large groups, and by avoiding close contact with other individuals, especially those who are sick.
The CDC also recommends that you:
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in a public place, blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If you cannot wash your hands, use hand sanitizer.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Stay home if you are unwell, except to seek medical assistance.
* Always wear a face mask in public areas.
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 Champions Polo Club in Wellington, Florida.
2020 Aspen Valley Summer Polo Series
Independence Cup 7/5
Craig Sakin Memorial 7/10 – 7/12
ChukkerTV Challenge Cup 7/17 – 7/19
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