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CARBONDALE, Colo., July 20, 2019---Piocho Ranch and Los Amigos Blue advanced into the championship final of the Basalt Handicap Sunday at McClure River Ranch.

Piocho Ranch (Gussie Busch, Nacho Figueras, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Tom Barrack) defeated Mountain Chevrolet (Lauren Sherry, Michael Payne, Nic Roldan, Kris Kampsen), 8-5, at Sopris Mountain Ranch.

In the other semifinal, Los Amigos Blue (Alejandra Foster, Carlitos Gracida, Salvador Ulloa, Juan Bollini) topped Los Amigos Red (Marc Ganzi, Pablo Spinacci, Nacho Novillo Astrada, Paul Foster), 16-11.

Piocho Ranch is going after its second tournament title after winning the season-opening Independence Cup. Los Amigos Blue is seeking its first tournament win of the summer season.

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 and Basalt Handicap runners-up team players at McClure River Ranch Field One. Both games will be live streamed by ChukkerTV.

On Saturday, all eyes will be on the USPA North American Cup final at McClure River Ranch Field One at 11 a.m. La Karina (Brian Boyd, 1, Carlitos Gracida, 4, Kris Kampsen, 6, Sebastian Merlos, 8) will play McClure River Ranch (Hilario Figueras, 3, Nacho Badiola, 5, Nic Roldan, 8, Stewart Armstrong, 3) in the final. It will be live streamed by USPA Polo Network on uspolo.org.

In Friday's semifinal at the Aspen Valley Polo Club barn field, Los Amigos Blue jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the opening chukker and never relinquished the lead. Los Amigos Red came within one goal twice, 5-4 and 7-6 in the second and third chukkers to outscore Los Amigos Blue 5-3, but could get no closer.

Los Amigos Blue pulled away for a 10-7 lead with a 3-1 fourth chukker and outscored Los Amigos Red, 9-5, in the second half.

Ulloa scored a game-high eight goals, to tie Kris Kampsen with most goals in a single game this season. Gracida had four goals. Alejandra Foster had three goals and Bollini added one.

For Los Amigos Red, Marc Ganzi led with four goals, Paul Foster had three. Spinacci and Astrada each had two goals.

In the other semifinal at Sopris Mountain Ranch, Piocho Ranch dominated the game from start to finish.

Piocho Ranch jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first chukker with two goals each from Astrada and Figueras. Piocho Ranch shut out Mountain Chevrolet in the first two chukkers before Payne started a rally with two goals in the third chukker to trail 5-2 at the half.

Piocho Ranch pulled away in the fourth chukker for a 7-3 lead. While the teams played to a 3-3 tie in the second half, Mountain Chevrolet was unable to get its offense going in the final chukker.

Both teams got balanced scoring. Figueras led Piocho Ranch with three goals, Busch and Astrada each had two goals and Barrack added one. Payne and Kampsen shared scoring honors for Mountain Chevrolet and Roldan had one.

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.

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.

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; and 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 the 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.

General admission tickets are on sale now. VIP tickets are sold out, according to Andrea Olson, marketing coordinator for the Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation. Please call 970-544-1302 to be placed on a waiting list.

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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