Alejandro Novillo Astrada

Alejandro Novillo Astrada

By Sharon Robb

CARBONDALE, Colo., August 23, 2018---Aspen Valley Polo Club will host its eleventh tournament of the summer polo season this weekend.

A round robin featuring Mountain Chevrolet, Casablanca and Los Amigos will compete in the qualifier on Friday at 11 a.m. MST at Sopris Mountain Ranch.

The winners will advance into Sunday's final at 1 p.m. The third-place finisher will play in the Just For the Love Of It Cup against additional players Kris Kampsen, Sarah Siegel Magness, Melissa and Marc Ganzi and Alejandra de la Vega.

The team rosters are:

Casablanca (17): Carlitos Gracida, Grant Ganzi, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Stewart Armstrong.

Los Amigos (16): Paul Foster, Brian Boyd, Nacho Novillo Astrada, Nic Roldan.

Mountain Chevrolet (15): Michael Payne, Pablo Dorignac, Lucas Lalor, Juan Bollini.

In last season's Carbondale Classic, Travieso (Mike Azzaro, Teo Calle, Tony Calle, MVP Carlitos Gracida) won its second tournament of the season with an 11-8 victory over Casablanca (Marc Ganzi, Grant Ganzi, Stewart Armstrong, Juancito Bollini).

For the seventh consecutive Sunday doubleheader local firefighters and first responders will be honored during AVPC's "Polo Cares" initiative. Each Sunday through Labor Day Weekend, firefighters and their families will be acknowledged on AVPC's featured game day. The club has donation boxes for anyone wishing to contribute to local fire and rescue stations. AVPC is matching all funds collected 100 percent. AVPC is showing its appreciation and support of the hundreds of brave men and women who battled the third largest fire in Colorado history for nearly three weeks.

Last year Casablanca was the club's winningest team with three tournament wins during the summer season. La Karina has three tournament titles this season.

Other grass tournament winners are: Piocho Ranch won the Independence Cup and Craig Sakin Memorial; Los Amigos Blue won the ChukkerTV Challenge; La Karina won the Basalt Handicap, Emma Challenge Cup and Rocky Mountain Cup; Los Amigos Red won the High Alpine Cup; and Tonkawa won the Mount Sopris Cup.

With the breathtaking 12,965-foot summit of Mount Sopris as a backdrop, Aspen Valley Polo Club is one of the busiest and fastest growing USPA-sanctioned clubs in the nation with a membership increase of 75 percent over four seasons.

This summer's 13-tournament schedule features ten grass tournaments including the inaugural Aug. 31-Sept. 2 Triple Crown of Polo Trophy and three arena tournaments. It is the first year the club will host a tournament on Labor Day Weekend during the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience.

It is the first season players will compete for the coveted Triple Crown of Polo. The three legs will be held at Denver Polo Club, Aspen Valley Polo Club and finish in Wellington this fall. Designed by Tiffany & Co., the Triple Crown of Polo is comprised of three separate trophies that fit perfectly together to create an entire polo scene that is breathtaking in sterling silver.

Aspen Valley Polo Club is coming off its most successful season in club history. Since Marc and Melissa Ganzi founded the club in 2014, polo has increased in popularity in Aspen and surrounding cities with the club’s offerings of various weekly grass and arena tournaments, Gladiator Tuesdays and Asado, Kids Polo, The Polo School and Polo On Demand. In addition, the club offers practice sessions for teams competing in the weekend tournaments.

"We want to make Aspen Valley Polo Club the place for this Valley," said co-owner Marc Ganzi, who grew up in Aspen. "The gates are open, the food is free, the drinks are free and your first polo lesson is free if you want to come take one and try the game. Our approach is come as you are. We prefer flip flops over high heels. We just want to get people to appreciate the horses and the Valley."

In the last four years, Aspen Valley Polo Club has had a positive impact in the area hosting kids polo camps, teaching lessons and hosting several charitable events at the club that have benefitted local charities including the Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation which raised $537,200, more than last year's total of $366,000.

The Ganzis are avid players and patrons and "have created a polo paradise" according to Piocho player-sponsor Tom Barrack. Players, sponsors, community leaders and fans share Barrack's sentiments.

All ages are welcome to enjoy polo at Aspen Valley Polo Club. Admission, food and refreshments are free for fans in a relaxed, laidback atmosphere. An added feature is the club's Jumbotron which made its debut this summer for the fans enjoyment.

Aspen, named after trees that quiver in the slightest breeze, offers hiking, mountain biking, rafting, fishing, golf, horseback riding, mountain climbing, great restaurants and taverns in addition to a full summer of polo.