CARBONDALE, Colo., July 4, 2016---Flexjet captured the season-opening Independence Cup Sunday at the Aspen Valley Polo Club Arena.
Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi/Secundo Merlos, Sebastian Merlos, Carlitos Gracida) defeated Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Lucas Lalor), 6-4, in the championship final of the round-robin.
La Karina (Brian Boyd, Marc Ganzi, Julio Novillo Astrada) finished third after losing to Flexjet, 8-6, and Casablanca, 7-6.
Gracida was named Most Valuable Player after scoring the only two-goal shot of the game. He finished with five goals in two games.
Argentine 9-goaler Sebastian Merlos, making his playing debut at Aspen Valley Polo Club, also had an outstanding game playing in his first career arena game.
Jasper, a four-year-old Dun gelding owned by Halo Polo, LLC and ridden by Sebastian Merlos, was named Best Playing Pony. The horse was also making his arena polo debut.
"This is only my second time here in Aspen, it is a beautiful place to play," Merlos said. "We played very well together. I liked the arena."
Heavy rains forced the three-team tournament to be moved from the championship grass field to the outdoor arena which made for a competitive and physical tournament.
Flexjet was dominating throughout the tournament and adjusted quickly to arena play with an adjusted lineup.
In its' 8-6 opening win over La Karina, Melissa Ganzi and Gracida each scored four goals. Flexjet jumped out to a 4-0 lead which included Gracida's two-goal shot from center field and never relinquished its lead.
Flexjet opened the second chukker with a 4-2 lead and third chukker with a 6-3 advantage. La Karina could get no closer than two goals.
In the final, 16-year-old Secundo Merlos replaced Melissa Ganzi in the lineup and joined his father and Gracida. In a physical game, Flexjet again took the lead, 2-1, after the first chukker. Flexjet extended its lead to 6-2 in the second chukker that ended with back-to-back goals from Segundo Merlos.
Casablanca played catch up in the third chukker, shutting out Flexjet, 2-0, but could not mount a big enough offensive rally and ran out of time.
Brian Boyd of La Karina, one of the club's top patrons, finished with three goals. Boyd said he brought eleven horses for his polo-playing family during the summer season.
"My horses are fired up with this fresh air and all this alfafa feed," Boyd said. "They are like fire-breathing dragons out there."
Astradaand Lalor each finished with five goals in two games for their teams.
Before the championship final, spectators were treated to a Kids Foot Mallet Exhibition between Polo School Purple (Lucy Ramirez, Emmett Tamplin and Santos Merlos) and Polo School Green (Lorenzo Ramirez, Abel Tamplin, Solon Tamplin). The game ended with a 4-4 tie. Merlos and Abel each had three goals. All players are members of The Polo School.
Chukker TV, leaders in worldwide polo broadcasting, is live streaming the entire summer schedule including the prestigious Louis Vuitton Cup and Rocky Mountain Cup.
ASPEN VALLEY 2016 SUMMER SCHEDULE
July 6-10, Chukker TV Challenge
July 13-17, Craig Sakin Memorial
July 20-24, Basalt Handicap
July 27-31, Emma Challenge
Aug. 3-7, Louis Vuitton Cup
Aug. 10, ChukkerTV Arena Challenge
Aug. 12-14, Mount Sopris Cup
Aug. 10-21, Rocky Mountain Open
CLUB ADDRESS: 3275 County Road 100, Carbondale, Colo. 81623
POLO HOTLINE: 970-710-1663
ASPEN VALLEY POLO CLUB
The exclusive Aspen Valley Polo Club is one of the nation's fastest-growing clubs. It offers grass and arena polo in the summer for players and spectators. The Polo School is available to adults and juniors. It offers individual and group lessons for all levels and ages. For spectators there are great field side views for tournament action and also the Aspen Valley Polo Club Boutique. Everyone is welcome to watch polo in a relaxed atmosphere. Admission, parking and refreshments are free. For Polo On Demand price rates of group and private lessons, arena chukkers, grass chukkers and individualized "Polo Experience" packages email email@example.com or log onto www.aspenvalleypoloclub.com.