CARBONDALE, Colo., August 19, 2016---After trailing at halftime, Aspen Valley Polo Club rallied to win the prestigious USPA National Arena Chairman’s Cup.
The talented young trio of Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini and Lucas Lalor defeated Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, Juan Bollini, Carlitos Gracida), 13.5-12, Thursday at blustery Aspen Valley Polo Club.
“It means a lot to win,” Grant Ganzi said. “We hadn’t won anything all summer. We have played arena together for three years and play well together. We have great chemistry.
“We know how arena works,” Ganzi said. “We have been playing arena more than anyone in this tournament. We knew before the tournament started we had a good shot. Then we watched the games on Tuesday and said we got this.”
Argentine Lucas Lalor was named Most Valuable Player. Lalor was outstanding throughout the tournament. The all-around player scored six goals including a two-point, 25-yard penalty shot in the fourth chukker.
In the first two tournament games, Lalor had four goals including a two-pointer against La Karina and two goals against Sopris Mountain Ranch.
Quarzo, an 8-year-old Bay stallion, owned and ridden by Melissa Ganzi, was named Best Playing Pony.
The physical game pitted mother against son (Melissa and Grant Ganzi) and father against son (Juan and Juancito Bollini).
The teams played evenly in the opening chukker with Aspen Valley Polo Club, a 10-goal rated team, taking a 3.5-3 lead on handicap over Flexjet, rated at 11 goals.
Aspen Valley Polo Club lost its momentum in the second chukker. Flexjet held the pre-tournament favorite to one goal while taking a 6-4.5 lead at the half.
“We started talking more between us in the second half,” Ganzi said. “We decided how we wanted to set up the game. We just weren’t finishing the goals. Juancito came up with a plan to fix that and obviously it paid off.”
After exchanging goals early in the third chukker, Aspen Valley Polo Club regained its momentum to take a 7.5-7 lead behind Bollini’s goal off the wall.
Aspen Valley Polo Club never trailed after that pulling away for a 11.5-9 lead behind Bollini’s big back shot and 13.5-9 behind Lalor’s 2-point penalty. Flexjet tried to rally but ran out of time.
“We got our momentum back,” Ganzi said. “We got more comfortable in the second half. We came out and played much better in the third chukker. We came out, scored and played a lot better overall.”
Ganzi, 18, who starts freshman classes at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. on Monday, added three goals in the final. He scored seven goals on opening day. Juancito Bollini also had three goals in the final.
Flexjet advanced into the final with wins over Grand Champions Polo Club, 6-2.5, and Audi, 5-3, in the opening day qualifier. Aspen Valley Polo Club defeated La Karina, 12-2.5, and Sopris Mountain Ranch, 5.5-3.
The two-day, 8-12-goal outdoor arena tournament, resurrected after a 10-year absence, featured top players Nic Roldan, Tincho Merlos, Julio Novillo Astrada and Tomacho Pieres.
It was the first time the nation’s fastest-growing USPA polo club has hosted the tournament.
The last time the tournament was held was 2006 at Great Meadow Polo Club in The Plains, Va. Some of America’s most notable names have competed including Billy Linfoot, Tom Goodspeed, Allan Scherer and Will Farish.
Aspen Valley Polo Club is one of the busiest polo clubs hosting various grass, indoor and outdoor arena tournaments and has been the hottest ticket during the 2016 summer season.
Polo has increased in popularity in Aspen and surrounding cities with the club’s offerings of various weekly tournaments, Gladiator Arena Polo, Kids Polo and The Polo School at the club owned by Marc and Melissa Ganzi since 2014, in addition to practice sessions for teams competing in the weekend tournaments.
The United States Polo Association® was organized and exists for the purpose 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.
ChukkerTV, leaders in polo broadcasting, is live streaming the remainder of the 2016 summer season in Aspen and East Coast Open later this month in Greenwich, Conn.
ASPEN VALLEY 2016 SUMMER SCHEDULE
Friday-Sunday, Rocky Mountain Open, Friday, 11 a.m. at Sopris Mountain Ranch, Flexjet vs. Los Amigos Red; 3 p.m., High Mesa Ranch, Tonkawa vs. Los Amigos White vs. ChukkerTV; Sunday, Final and Subsidiary Games, Grooms’ Race.
Saturday, Pony Club Day at Aspen Valley Polo Club, Kids Tournament and “Skill of the Game” Pony Club activities, 11 a.m.
Aug. 24-28, The Carbondale Classic
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 polo clubs. It offers 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, indoor and outdoor arenas and also the Aspen Valley Polo Club Boutique. Everyone is welcome to watch polo in a relaxed atmosphere with complimentary food and refreshments. Admission and parking are free. For Polo On Demand price rates of group and private lessons, arena chukkers, grass chukkers and individualized “Polo Experience” packages email firstname.lastname@example.org or log onto www.aspenvalleypoloclub.com.