By Sharon Robb
CARBONDALE, Colo., August 26, 2018---Los Amigos came from behind to capture the Carbondale Classic Sunday at Aspen Valley Polo Club.
Trailing by one going into the final chukker, Los Amigos (Brian Boyd, Nic Roldan, Nacho Novillo Astrada, Paul Foster) scored four goals to defeat Casablanca (Carlitos Gracida, Grant Ganzi, Stewart Armstrong, Alejandro Novillo Astrada), 11-9.
It was the El Paso, Tex.-based Los Amigos organization's third title of the season.
Top American player Nic Roldan was named Most Valuable Player. Roldan had three goals, including one in the final chukker.
Pitkin, a 6-year-old Bay mare was selected Best Playing Pony. The Wellington, Fla.-based Santa Rita Polo Farm owned and bred horse by Open Quarzo out of Souffle, was played by Nacho Novillo Astrada.
Nacho Novillo Astrada of Los Amigos was awarded the Flexjet Play of the Day for his sixth chukker midfield penalty goal.
Brian Boyd won his fourth tournament of the summer season (three with La Karina) and scored a team-high four goals for Los Amigos. Nacho Novillo Astrada had three goals and Foster added one.
Alejandro Novillo Astrada scored a game-high five goals for Casablanca. Armstrong had three goals and Ganzi added one.
The game was close with Casablanca leading 5-4 at halftime and 8-7 after five chukkers. Los Amigos found its offensive attack, outscoring Casablanca, 4-1, in the sixth chukker with two goals from Nacho Novillo Astrada, including a midfield penalty conversion, Boyd's goal and another penalty conversion from Roldan.
The Carbondale Classic was the ninth outdoor grass tournament and eleventh overall of the summer polo season at AVPC.
The Carbondale Classic is named after the town of Carbondale, where Aspen Valley Polo Club is located. The picturesque town is located 170 miles west of Denver and 14 miles from Aspen in the heart of Colorado’s breathtaking central Rocky Mountains, resting in the shadow of the 12,953-foot Mount Sopris.
In the Just For The Love Of It Cup, Mandarina (Sarah Magness, Melissa Ganzi, Lucas Lalor, Juan Bollini) defeated Mountain Chevrolet (Alejandra de la Vega, Michael Payne, Marc Ganzi, Kris Kampsen), 10-8.
Magness scored a game-high four goals. Lalor added three goals, Melissa Ganzi had two and Bollini scored one.
For Mountain Chevrolet, Marc Ganzi and Michael Payne shared high-scoring honors with three each and De La Vega added two goals.
The subsidiary game was just as thrilling as the final. Mandarina shut out Mountain Chevrolet, 5-0, after two chukkers but Mountain Chevrolet came back with four goals of its own in the third chukker to trail by one at the half.
Ganzi and Payne took turns scoring to bring Mountain Chevrolet back for a 6-6 tie after the fourth chukker. Mandarina bounced back behind Magness' two goals in the fifth and outscored Mountain Chevrolet, 4-2, in the final two chukkers to clinch the win.
For the seventh consecutive Sunday doubleheader local firefighters and first responders were honored during AVPC's "Polo Cares" initiative. Each Sunday through Labor Day Weekend, firefighters and their families are 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 wants to show its appreciation and support of the hundreds of brave men and women who have been battling 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 and Los Amigos have each won 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 is hosting a tournament on Labor Day Weekend during the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience.
This is the first season players are competing for the coveted Triple Crown of Polo. The three legs will be held at Denver Polo Club (held Friday), Aspen Valley Polo Club and finish in Wellington, Fla. at Grand Champions Polo Club 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.
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.
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.
By Sharon Robb