By Sharon Robb
CARBONDALE, Colo., August 31, 2018---The stage is set for the Triple Crown of Polo Aspen Tournament Sunday at Aspen Valley Polo Club.
Mandarina (Sarah Magness, Melissa Ganzi, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Juan Bollini) and Woodrow Farm (Leigh Brecheen, Marc Ganzi, Nic Roldan, Tano Vial) will meet in the final at 11 a.m.
Mandarina advanced into the final with a 7-5 victory over Los Amigos (Pablo Dorignac, Stewart Armstrong, Lucas Lalor, Paul Foster) at Sopris Mountain Ranch.
Magness and Novillo Astrada each had three goals and Ganzi added one goal.
Mandarina, despite being held scoreless in the second, third and sixth chukkers, led for the entire game, jumping out to a 3-1 opening chukker and leading 5-2 after four chukkers.
Los Amigos outscored Mandarina, 3-0, in the final chukker but ran out of time to rally. Foster led scoring with three goals and Lalor had two goals.
In the second game, Woodrow Farm knocked off La Karina (Alejandra de la Vega, Brian Boyd, Carlitos Gracida, Nacho Novillo Astrada), 8-7, in overtime. Woodrow Farm won in a penalty shootout.
Marc Ganzi scored a game-high five goals, Vial added two goals and Brecheen had one. Vial and Brecheen converted penalty shots in overtime to clinch the win.
Boyd led La Karina with four goals, Novillo Astrada had two and De La Vega added one.
Woodrow Farm led 5-1 at the half before La Karina rallied to shut out Woodrow Farm in the fifth and sixth chukkers, outscoring them 5-1 in the second half to tie the game 6-6 and send it into overtime.
The Just For The Love Of It subsidiary pitting La Karina and Los Amigos, the club's winningest teams this season, will follow the final at 1 p.m.
On Monday at 11 a.m., the Labor Of Love Challenge season-finale will be held on the club's newest polo field.
This is the first season players are competing for the coveted Triple Crown of Polo. The Triple Crown of Polo Denver was won by Scone (David Paradice, Agustin Nero, Agusto Gomez Romero, Guillermo Terrera). The Triple Crown of Polo Palm Beach is set for Grand Champions Polo Club on Nov. 14.
Designed by Tiffany & Co., the magnificent trophy is comprised of three separate trophies that fit perfectly together to create an entire polo scene that is breathtaking in sterling silver.
The winning team's name will be inscribed on the trophy and added to an impressive list of teams that feature several top players including Sebastian Merlos, Mike Azzaro, Tommy Biddle, Adam Snow, Nic Roldan, Matias Magrini, Jeff Hall, Mariano Gonzalez, Michel Dorignac and Kris Kampsen, who along with Azzaro and Biddle, won with Team TresHijas.
The Triple Crown of Polo, an ESPN2 television series, was created in 2005 by David McLane, known for Pro Beach Hockey, Women of Wrestling and Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, to help promote polo in the U.S. The spectacular trophy was created for the event that had stops in Sarasota, Dallas, Santa Barbara and Aiken during its heyday.
For the eighth and final Sunday, local firefighters and first responders will be honored during AVPC's "Polo Cares" initiative. Every Sunday through Labor Day Weekend, firefighters and their families have been 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.
Last summer Casablanca was the club's winningest team with three tournament wins. La Karina and Los Amigos each won three tournaments this season.
Other grass tournament winners were: 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; Tonkawa won the Mount Sopris Cup; and Los Amigos won the Carbondale Classic.
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.
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.
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 a record $537,200 this summer.
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.