CARBONDALE, Colo., August 21, 2016---Los Amigos Red took advantage of cold shooting by Tonkawa to capture the Rocky Mountain Open Sunday at Aspen Valley Polo Club.
Los Amigos Red (Paul Foster, Carlitos Gracida, Julio Novillo Astrada, Gabriel Gracida) broke open a deadlocked first half and scored five goals in the fourth chukker to pull away for the lopsided win against Tonkawa (Jeff Hildebrand, Alex Gooding, Nic Roldan, Jimmy Seward).
Argentine 7-goaler Julio Novillo Astrada Jr., 43, one of five brothers whose family’s polo tradition spans more than 60 years in Argentina, was named Most Valuable Player for the second time during the summer season.
Novillo Astrada scored a game-high five goals including three in the explosive fourth chukker and got his team untracked after a defensive first half.
“We tried to do too much in the first half and got a little bit desperate,” Novillo Astrada said. “I tried to take on too much and didn’t pass enough. We had our opportunities to score in the first half and tried to send the ball to the goal.
“In the second half we made a plan,” Novillo Astrada said. “I moved forward and when they missed the ball we would counter attack. They could not convert and we did.”
Tonkawa had eighteen shots on goal but could not take advantage.
“I didn’t think the score would be like that,” Novillo Astrada said. “The game was very even at the beginning. I have never seen anything like it, a good team with good players missing so many shots. It happens to everyone but it is not what I expected.”
Diva, an 8-year-old bay mare ridden by Astrada in the fourth chukker and owned by Santa Rita Polo Farm, was selected Best Playing Pony.
“Diva was a good mount in the fourth chukker, very handy,” Novillo Astrada said. “I very much enjoyed playing her. These past two months have been fantastic at this club. Aspen Valley has so many different programs for everyone. It has been a great summer. I want to come back.”
In a defensive first chukker, Los Amigos Red took a 1-0 lead on Carlitos Gracida’s penalty-four goal. Roldan’s goal early in the second chukker tied the game at 1-1. Roldan’s second goal in the chukker gave Tonkawa its’ first and only lead of the game.
By the third chukker, both teams were shooting only 20 percent. Novillo Astrada did manage to score to tie the game just before the half. Carlitos Gracida stopped Hildebrand’s penalty-three shot attempt to keep the score tied.
With the new second-half game plan, Los Amigos Red was unstoppable. Tonkawa was outscored 5-1 in the fourth chukker and trailed 7-3. Los Amigos Red held Tonkawa scoreless in the final two chukkers to clinch the victory.
In the exciting subsidiary game, Los Amigos made it a clean sweep with its’ Blue Team (Alejandra Foster, Grant Ganzi, Sebastian Merlos, Juancito Bollini) edging La Karina/Flexjet (Lucas Lalor, Marc Ganzi, Ailsa Currier, Juan Bollini), 9-8.
Argentine 9-goaler Sebastian Merlos scored the tying and winning goal in the final chukker and finished with a team-high four goals. Merlos was named MVP.
During the festive post-game awards ceremony, Aspen Valley Polo Club’s champion team of Juancito Bollini, Grant Ganzi and MVP Lucas Lalor were honored for winning the USPA National Arena Chairman’s Cup Championship on Thursday. The trio was presented trophy cups for winning the tournament last played in 2006.
On Saturday, Aspen Valley Polo Club also hosted the inaugural Pony Club Day where members of the Eagle River Pony Club were treated to a full day of polo and horse skill activities including foot mallet polo and arena polo with top players and pros Juan Bollini, Sebastian Dawnay, Carlitos Gracida, Dale Schwetz and Melissa Ganzi, owner of the Aspen Valley Polo Club and former Pony Club member.
The most competitive summer polo season winds down with this weekend’s season-ending Carbondale Classic.
The past summer polo tournament winners include: Steta Polo Team (Guillermo Steta, Brian Boyd/Grant Ganzi, Nic Roldan, Carlitos Gracida), Mount Sopris Cup; ChukkerTV (Lucas Lalor, Carlitos Gracida, Juan Bollini), ChukkerTV Arena Challenge; Travieso (Paul Foster, Tony Calle, Teo Calle, Alex Gooding) and Los Amigos (Alejandra Foster, Brian Boyd, Alejandro Poma, Stewart Armstrong), High Alpine Cup; Tonkawa (Jeff Hildebrand, Teo Calle, Tincho Merlos, Jimmy Seward), Emma Challenge; La Karina (Brian Boyd, Tony Calle, Julio Novillo Astrada, Stewart Armstrong), Basalt Handicap; Travieso (Teo Calle, Tony Calle, Lucas Lalor, Carlitos Gracida), Craig Sakin Memorial; Travieso (Alex Gooding, Teo Calle, Sebastian Merlos, Brian Boyd), ChukkerTV Challenge Cup; and Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi/Secundo Merlos, Sebastian Merlos, Carlitos Gracida), Independence Cup arena polo final.
Aspen Valley Polo Club also hosted the USPA National Arena Chairman’s Cup Championship won by Aspen Valley Polo Club (Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Lucas Lalor); USPA-NTYS qualifier won by The Polo School (Nikko Ramirez/Rufino Merlos, Riley Ganzi, Santos Bollini, Grant Ganzi) and inaugural Pony Club Day.
Aspen Valley Polo Club is one of the busiest and nation’s fastest growing USPA-sanctioned clubs with a membership increase of 75 percent since last 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 Ganzis are avid players and patrons and “have put new life into polo” in the area according to local player Alex Gooding.
ChukkerTV, leaders in polo broadcasting, is live streaming the 2016 summer season including the East Coast Open in Greenwich, Conn.
ASPEN VALLEY 2016 SUMMER SCHEDULE
Aug. 26-28, 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.