Basalt Handicap Begins Friday With Six Teams At McClure River Ranch

CARBONDALE, Colo., July 22, 2022-—Brookshire will be looking for its second win of the season when the Basalt Handicap begins Friday at McClure River Ranch.

By Sharon Robb

Six teams will compete over two days. Two preliminary round robins on Friday will determine the two championship finalists.

At 10:30 a.m. at McClure River Ranch Field 1, La Karina will play Brookshire, winners of the ChukkerTV Cup, followed by Santa Rita playing last in the round robin.

In the second round robin at noon on Field 2, Mountain Chevrolet will play Victory. El Tiburon, led by Collen Clark, makes its summer polo debut, playing last.

On Sunday, 18 chukkers will take place with the Just For The Thrill Of It Cup, Basalt Handicap final and Just For The Fun Of It Cup at start times to be determined.

Sponsors and team rosters are:

Santa Rita: Melissa Ganzi, Marc Ganzi, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Juan Bollini.

Brookshire: Scott Wood, Alejandro Poma (Friday), Vinny Sangaline (Sunday), Nacho Figueras, Torito Ruiz.

La Karina: Brian Boyd, Alejandra Foster, Tomacho Pieres, Gonzalito Pieres.

Mountain Chevrolet: Michael Payne, Alex Gooding, Nic Roldan, Stewart Armstrong.

Victory: Kevin Schmeits, Paul Foster, Sugar Erskine, Nacho Novillo Astrada.

El Tiburon: Collen Clark, Jason Crowder, Pancho Bensadon, Grant Ganzi.

On Satuday at 10 a.m. at the AVPC barn field, the Just For The Love It Cup at 10 a.m. will feature Victory Polo (Becky Schmeits, Melissa Ganzi, Juan Bollini, Jimmy Seward) against WPL (Nic Mathers, Nic Roldan, Santos Bollini, Blas Bensadon) followed by Kidz Polo at 11 a.m.

The winner of last year’s Basalt Handicap was Tonkawa (Jeff Hildebrand, Jimmy Seward, Torito Ruiz, Grant Ganzi), 13-10 winners over La Karina (Brian Boyd, Gussie Busch, Nic Roldan, Marc Ganzi). Ruiz was MVP. Debutante, a 16-year-old mare owned by Hildebrand, was Best Playing Pony.

The Basalt Handicap honors the former railroad town which was named for the basaltic rock formation on Basalt Mountain. Basalt is known as a vacation mecca for families and sports enthusiasts.

Located between Glenwood Springs and Aspen, sports and cultural opportunities are only minutes away. Amid the variety of activities, Basalt still preserves it original, quaint charm. The fishing paradise sits at the junction of two Gold Medal rivers, the Frying Pan River and Roaring Fork River, which begins on Independence Pass and flows through Aspen. 

Aspen Valley Polo Club kicked off its ninth season three weeks ago. In the season-opener Los Amigos (Paul Foster, Marc Ganzi, Gonzalito Pieres, Tomacho Pieres) won the Independence Cup with a round robin victory over Casablanca (Alejandra Foster, Grant Ganzi, Torito Ruiz, Nic Roldan) and NetJets (Melissa Ganzi, Nacho Figueras, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Juan Bollini). Brookshire (Scott Wood, Jason Crowder, Nic Roldan, Juan Bollini) won its club debut in the ChukkerTV Cup with an 11-7 win over Los Amigos (Paul Foster, Vinny Sangaline, Gonzalito Pieres, Nacho Figueras). Last weekend McClure River Ranch (Marc Ganzi, Jason Crowder, Pancho Bensadon, Stewart Armstrong) won the Craig Sakin Memorial with a 9-8 victory over Santa Rita (Melissa Ganzi, Vinny Sangaline, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Juan Bollini).

The world’s destination spot for summer polo has attracted some of the world’s top players, sponsors and world-class horses.

With the majestic 12,965-foot summit of Mount Sopris as a backdrop under a bright summer sky, polo has returned to the valley July through September with a record thirteen tournaments.

Other summer tournaments are the Emma Challenge Cup, High Alpine Cup, Mount Sopris Cup, Rocky Mountain Open, Carbondale Classic, Triple Crown of Polo-Aspen, Silver Queen Invitational, Maroon Bells Cup and Ute Challenge.

The highlight of the season is the Aug. 28th Summer Polo Benefit for the Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation. Last year’s event raised more than $500,000 after a year’s hiatus because of the pandemic. It is the club’s summer marquis event and one of the city’s most anticipated social summer events.

Wellington, Fla.-based ChukkerTV will live stream the entire 2022 polo season Mountain Standard Time with announcer Dale Schwetz calling the action.

The family-friendly club welcomes spectators. All matches, food and refreshments are free and open to the public.

Last summer Aspen Valley Polo Club finished a successful and historic season in club and Rocky Mountain Circuit history and hopes to top that this season. 
The 2021 tournament champions were: Independence Cup, La Karina (Sugar Erskine, Brian Boyd, Marc Ganzi, Nic Roldan); ChukkerTV Challenge, NetJets (Michael Payne, Alex Gooding, Sugar Erskine, Nacho Figueras); Craig Sakin Memorial, Casablanca (Lauren Sherry, Alex Gooding, Torito Ruiz, Grant Ganzi); Basalt Handicap Cup, Tonkawa (Jeff Hildebrand, Grant Ganzi, Torito Ruiz, Jimmy Seward); Emma Challenge, Rancho Los Amigos (Paul Foster, Juan Bollini, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Gussie Busch); High Alpine Cup, Santa Rita (Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Alejandra Foster, Lauren Sherry, Tomacho Pieres); Mount Sopris Cup, NetJets (Juan Bollini, Gussie Busch, Govinda Quish, Pablo Spinacci); Rocky Mountain Open, Casablanca (Marc Ganzi, Grant Ganzi, Gonzalito Pieres, Torito Ruiz); Carbondale Classic, White Claw (Waqaas Al-Siddiq, Vinny Sangaline, Gonzalito Pieres, Nacho Badiola); WPL Triple Crown of Polo-Aspen, Tonkawa (Marc Ganzi, Jeff Hildebrand, Gonzalito Pieres, Juan Bollini); and Silver Queen Invitational, NetJets (Brian Boyd, Juan Bollini, Nacho Figueras, Pablo Spinacci).

Since Marc and Melissa Ganzi resurrected the club and polo in 2014, polo has increased in popularity in Aspen and surrounding cities with the club’s offerings of various weekly grass and arena tournaments, Arena & Asado Nights, Kidz Polo, Kidz Wheely 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 club tournaments on more than six world-class fields. There are also indoor and outdoor polo arenas.

Aspen was founded as a silver mining town in the 1800s and was named for the abundance of aspen trees growing in the area and famous for their tall, thin trunks and golden leaves. Conde Nast Traveler’s Reader’s Choice Awards recognized Aspen as the No. 1 Small City in the U.S.

The Polo School for all ages and ability levels operates in Carbondale July through September. The first lesson is free and polo scholarships are offered. For more information on tournaments or Polo School contact Director of Operations Juan Bollini at 561-346-1099 or club manager Cale Newman at 561-876-2930.

Aspen Valley Polo Club caters to men, women and youth polo players at all levels. Its’ expert staff can customize a complete playing experience including horses, pros and certified umpires in addition to lessons and practice sessions as part of its’ Polo On Demand program.

When not playing or watching polo, there’s all kinds of outdoor activities in a true adventurer’s playground including hiking, mountain biking, paddle boarding, water rafting, swimming, fly fishing and golf.


JULY 22, 2022

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