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CARBONDALE, Colo., July 18, 2019---In one of the busiest weeks of summer polo, the Basalt Handicap begins Friday at Aspen Valley Polo Club and Sopris Mountain Ranch.

The Basalt Handicap will be held Friday and Sunday. Two semifinal games are scheduled for Friday at 10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.

On Friday at 10:30 a.m. at the Aspen Valley Polo Club barn field, Los Amigos Blue plays Los Amigos Red. At 11 a.m. at Sopris Mountain Ranch, Mountain Chevrolet plays Piocho Ranch.

The final is Sunday at 11 a.m. followed by the Just For The Love Of It Cup at 1 p.m., featuring the USPA North American Cup runners-up and Basalt Handicap teams.

Team rosters are:

Los Amigos Blue (15): Alejandra Foster, Gabriel Gracida, Salvador Ulloa, Juan Bollini.

Los Amigos Red (16): Paul Foster, Marc Ganzi, Pablo Spinacci, Nacho Novillo Astrada.

Mountain Chevrolet (15): Michael Payne, Lauren Sherry, Nic Roldan, Kris Kampsen.

Piocho Ranch (16): Tom Barrack, Nacho Figueras, Gussie Busch, Alejandro Novillo Astrada.

The Basalt Handicap is the fifth of eleven grass tournaments and three arena tournaments being staged at AVPC in what is expected to be its best season.

Coming off its most successful summer season, Aspen Valley Polo Club has lined up a star-studded roster of players including Hilario Ulloa, Sapo Caset, Alejandro and Nacho Novillo Astrada, Tincho and Sebastian Merlos and Nic Roldan for the summer to compete with and against patrons and amateur players.

This week Roldan, the youngest player to win the U.S. Open at age 15 and highest ranked American player at 8 goals, makes his debut at Aspen Valley Polo Club, the summer destination for polo. Roldan is coming off the Greenwich Polo Club season where he played with Altaris teammates Nick Manifold, Marcos Garcia Del Rio and Jamal Nusseibeh. He is playing in both the USPA North American Cup and Basalt Handicap this week.

Last year's Basalt Handicap winner was La Karina for the second time in three years.

In a hardfought, physical contest La Karina (Brian Boyd, Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Lucas Lalor) led 4-3 at the half and never relinquished its lead for a stunning 8-5 victory over Piocho Ranch (Marc Ganzi, Carlitos Gracida, Nacho Figueras, Tom Barrack) in La Karina's season debut. Grant Ganzi was named Most Valuable Player for the second year in a row.

Ganzi and Bollini were repeat winners of the Basalt Handicap. In 2017, the pair won with Casablanca and shared MVP honors with Mariano Gracida and Pablo Dorignac. In 2016, La Karina won the Basalt Handicap with Boyd, Tony Calle, Julio Novillo Astrada and Stewart Armstrong.

The Basalt Handicap honors the former railroad town which was named for the basaltic rock formation on Basalt Mountain. Basalt is known as a vacation mecca for families and sports enthusiasts. Located between Glenwood Springs and Aspen, world-class skiing and cultural opportunities are only minutes away. Amid the variety of activities, Basalt still preserves it original, quaint charm. The fishing paradise sits at the junction of two Gold Medal rivers, the Frying Pan River and Roaring Fork River.

The first three tournament winners of the 2019 summer season were: Mountain Chevrolet (Michael Payne, Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Nacho Novillo Astrada), ChukkerTV Challenge; Los Amigos Red (Hilario Figueras, Paul Foster, Lucas Lalor, Nacho Novillo Astrada), Craig Sakin Memorial; Piocho Ranch (Tom Barrack, Gabriel Gracida, Nacho Figueras, Salvador Ulloa), the season-opening Independence Cup winners.

Among the 2019 summer highlights is the 119th USPA Silver Cup. The Aug. 11 final, set for one of the club's two newest fields at McClure River Ranch, will be paired with the annual Chukkers, Champagne & Caviar fundraiser. Other top tournaments are this week's USPA North American Cup, July 23-August 6 USPA National Arena Handicap, Aug. 7-14 Arena World Cup and Sept. 1-8 Triple Crown of Polo.

The club's summer marquis charity event, hosted by club owners Marc and Melissa Ganzi and Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation, has raised $1 million dollars in the last two years to benefit Aspen Valley Hospital.

Ticket packages range from $250 to $25,000 Luxury VIP Gold (table for 12) and $100,000 Luxury VIP Diamond package (30 guests). The $50,000 Luxury VIP Platinum package (20 guests) has already sold out. For more information call 970-544-1302.

With the majestic 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, Tuesday Arena & Asado Nights, Kidz Polo, The Polo School headed by former 8-goaler Juan Bollini, and Polo On Demand. In addition, the club offers practice sessions for teams competing in the weekend tournaments.

Aspen Valley Polo Club has had a positive impact in the area hosting kids polo camps, teaching lessons and several charitable events at the club that have benefitted local charities.

Aspen Peak Magazine has featured the club and its polo and charity events several times and recently featured players Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Tony Calle and Nic Roldan in a cover story.

The Ganzis are avid players and patrons and "have created a polo paradise" according to Piocho Ranch padron Tom Barrack. "You can go all over the world but you can't have these kind of people, players and horses in this setting. It's really a gift." 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 last summer for the fans' enjoyment, Aspen Valley Polo Club Boutique and new electronic scoreboard.

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