Winning team San Diego Porsche and runners-up Viejas Casino and Resort.

Winning team San Diego Porsche and runners-up Viejas Casino and Resort.

By Sharon Robb

SAN DIEGO, Calif., September 10, 2018---With a new lineup, Porsche San Diego defended its title Sunday at the third annual Polo America Beach Polo Cup at the iconic Hotel Del Coronado.

For the second year in a row, Porsche San Diego (Melissa Ganzi, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Juan Bollini) won the coveted beach polo title with a 10-6 victory over Viejas Casino and Resort (Marc Ganzi, Alfredo Bigatti, Pablo Dorignac).

Argentine Alejandro Novillo Astrada of Porsche San Diego was named Most Valuable Player after his outstanding play.

The Flexjet Best Playing Pony was 8-year-old Bay mare Quilmas, played by Juan Bollini in the fourth chukker. The BPP blanket was presented by actor Sterling Jones.

Melissa Ganzi scored a game-high eight goals as Porsche San Diego led the four-chukker game from start-to-finish. Bollini and Novillo Astrada each had one goal. Bigatti scored a team-high five goals and Ganzi added one goal for Viejas Casino and Resort.

Porsche San Diego led 2-1, 4-2 and 6-5 before Ganzi put the game out of reach with three goals in the final chukker.

In the subsidiary game, Aspen Valley Polo Team (Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Alfredo Bigatti) won with a 6-5 victory over U.S. Polo Assn. (Chevy Beh, Nacho Novillo Astrada, Carlitos Gracida).

Aspen Valley Polo Club (Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Tincho Merlos) won the inaugural event in 2016 with a 10-7 win over Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, Lucas Lalor, Julio Novillo Astrada). After finishing runner-up twice, it was the first time Melissa Ganzi captured the title.

In Friday's opener, Porsche San Diego advanced into the championship with a win over U.S. Polo Assn. On Saturday, Viejas Casino and Resort  defeated  Aspen Valley Polo Club.

It was the third consecutive year in beach polo history, a major beach polo tournament was staged on the west coast of the United States attracting a good crowd of fans and celebrities. It was also the highest rated polo game on the west coast at 18 goals according to event organizer Randy Russell.

The legendary Hotel Del Coronado, the second largest wooden structure in the United States, has 128 years of history. In addition to the polo games, polo lessons by the California Polo Club were held all three mornings of the event. An inaugural sand sculpture contest was held among six local artists.

The event had an extensive list of sponsors. The Platinum Sponsor was the Hotel Del Coronado. Gold Sponsors included Porsche San Diego, Silver Seas Yachts, Discover Coronado, Grayse Women’s Fashions, Brady’s Menswear, Aspen Valley Polo Club and U.S. Polo Assn. Aspen Valley Polo Club, a major supporter of Polo America’s Beach Polo, provided 50 horses for the event.

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.

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.

Polo America is the oldest and largest marketing firm that specializes in promoting the sport of polo. The company’s expertise includes creating and producing a variety of world-class polo events throughout the U.S.