By: Rebecca Baldridge
Photos by: ChukkerTV
The ChukkerTV Challenge got off to an exciting start at the Aspen Valley Polo Club on Friday afternoon. In the first match of the day, Michael Bickford’s La Indiana (Michael Bickford, John Bickford, Nacho Novillo Astrada, Jared Zenni) narrowly defeated Mountain Chevrolet (Michael Payne, Alex Gooding, Tincho Merlos, Pablo Spinacci) by one goal, with a score of 9 to 8 at the horn.
The Bickford brothers made a strong showing, with three goals between them in the first two chukkers. Jared Zenni added another goal, with La Indiana leading by 3 at the half. La Indiana’s lead opened up to 4 goals by the fifth chukker, but Mountain Chevrolet was on fire in the final period, keeping La Indiana at bay while Pablo Spinacci and Tincho Merlos racked up 3 goals between them. The second match of the day saw Casablanca (Marc Ganzi, Grant Ganzi, Polito Pieres, Juancito Bollini) get the best of La Karina (Vinny Sangaline, Brian Boyd, Nacho Badiola, Nic Roldan, Carlitos Gracida) with a score of 8 to 6.
Casablanca put the pressure on early, with Marc Ganzi scoring two goals off the mark and the team keeping La Karina away from the goal until the second chukker. It was this explosive start, with Casablanca scoring four goals in the first chukker, that put them on the path to glory. Scoring was almost evenly matched through the remainder of the game, with neither team managing to score in the last chukker. Nic Roldan did much of the heavy lifting for La Karina, consistently making it to the goal in each chukker with a little help from Nacho Badiola in the third.
La Indiana and Casablanca will meet for the final on Sunday, July 12, at 11:00 a.m. Mt. Chevrolet and La Karina will play the Just For The Fun of It Cup at 1 p.m. Both games will be live streamed on ChukkerTV.
After Friday’s opening round robin for the Just For The Love Of It tournament at Sopris Mountain Ranch, Seminole Casino (Melissa Ganzi, Alejandra Foster, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Juan Bollini) lead with 12 goals over opponents Los Amigos (Paul Foster, Juan Martin Nero, Torito Ruiz, Peter Holowesko) and Richard Mille (Bobby Gerry, Horacio Heguy, Pablo MacDonough, Stewart Armstrong). Alejandra Foster scored an impressive 6 goals. Bobby Gerry, making his club debut scored 3 goals helping his team secure second place.
Scores from Friday’s game in the Just For The Love Of It tournament will continue on Sunday at 11 a.m.
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.