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CARBONDALE, Colo., July 24, 2019---The highly-anticipated 119th USPA Silver Cup will make its debut at Aspen Valley Polo Club with three opening day games Saturday at McClure River Ranch.

The club's second USPA 20-goal tournament of the summer season will feature six teams and several of the world's top polo players.

The 119th USPA Silver Cup has a rich tradition in history. It is considered the oldest of all American tournaments. The event has been called several names throughout its hallowed history. Originally established by the USPA as the Junior Championship, it was first played in 1900 close to the New York City birthplace of American polo.

The Cup was later renamed in 1938 to the Twenty-Goal Championship and played until 1951. The Trophy went on hiatus from 1942 to 1947 because of the effects on polo during and immediately after World War II.

It was not until 1974 that the tournament took its present name and was hosted in Texas. The Cup winners have been a Who's Who in polo from J. Watson Webb and Tommy Hitchcock to Robert Skene, George Oliver, Memo Gracida, Carlos Gracida, Tommy Wayman, Red Armour, Harold Barry, Joe Barry, John Armstrong, Charles Smith, Cecil Smith, William Ylvisaker, Adam Snow, Mike Azzaro, Mariano Aguerre and Adolfo Cambiaso, who won in 2012.

Several high-profile polo clubs have hosted the coveted Cup in New York, Illinois, Texas, South Carolina, Connecticut and California. From 2011-2106 it was hosted by Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club and 2017-18 at Greenwich Polo Club.

U.S. Polo Assn., the official brand of USPA, is the prestigious tournament's official apparel sponsor. The tournament will be live streamed in front of a worldwide audience by USPA Polo Network on uspolo.org .

The draw to determine bracket play held earlier this week at St. Regis Aspen, attracted a large turnout of players, sponsors, family and friends.

"The polo is very competitive here," said Nic Roldan, at 8 goals the highest ranked American player. "Some of the top players in the world are here."

Added Kris Kampsen, "I don't think anyone expected the polo to be this fast and this good so early, we are excited about the Silver Cup."

"Aspen is the perfect place for high goal polo," said Casablanca's Grant Ganzi, one of the sport's up-and-coming players. "It's about time that there's high goal polo in Aspen. As a destination it's a ten. I don't think there's a better place in the country to be in the summer."

Team rosters are:

DIVISION I: 1. Tonkawa (20) Jeff Hildebrand, Juan Martin Obregon, Sapo Caset, Mason Wroe.

2. La Karina (20) Brian Boyd, Carlitos Gracida, Tincho Merlos, Sebastian Merlos.

3. Casablanca (20) Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Lucas Lalor, Nacho Novillo Astrada.

Division II: 4. Flexjet (20) Melissa Ganzi, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Hilario Ulloa, Gussie Busch.

5. Audi (19) Marc Ganzi, Jared Zenni, Nic Roldan, Hilario Figueras.

6. McClure River Ranch (20) Salvador Lockey, Kris Kampsen, Alfredo Bigatti, Stewart Armstrong.

Division I teams play one game against each Division II team. After the division games, the teams will be ranked first through sixth with the top four teams advancing into the semifinals. For the semifinals, the No. 1 ranked team plays the No. 4 ranked team and No. 2 ranked team will play the No. 3 ranked team.

Three first round games are scheduled for Saturday at McClure River Ranch's two new fields. At 11 a.m. Tonkawa plays Flexjet; 1 p.m. La Karina plays Audi and 3 p.m. Casablanca plays McClure River Ranch.

On July 31, Audi plays at Tonkawa at 11 a.m.; La Karina plays McClure River Ranch at 1 p.m. and Casablanca plays Flexjet at 3 p.m. The last two games will be held at McClure River Ranch.

On August 3, Tonkawa plays McClure River Ranch at 11 a.m.; La Karina plays Flexjet at 1 p.m.; and Casablanca plays Audi at 3 p.m. All three games are at McClure River Ranch.

The two semifinal matchups are Aug. 7 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at McClure River Ranch with the winners advancing into the Aug. 11 championship.

The final will be paired with the annual Chukkers, Champagne & Caviar fundraiser. The club's summer marquis charity event, hosted by club owners Marc and Melissa Ganzi and Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation, has raised more than $1 million dollars in the last two years to benefit Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation.

"This is a huge event here at the club," Marc Ganzi said. "This will be the third year to support the Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation. Last year we raised almost $800,000 in one day. We are looking to do better than that this year. It should be a huge crowd. Everyone in the valley is excited to be here."

General admission tickets remain 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.

Last year's 119th USPA Silver Cup champion was undefeated Huntsman (Segundo Merlos, Tomas Garcia Del Rio, Toro Ruiz, Dillon Bacon), 10-8 winners over Postage Stamp Farm (Annabelle Gundlach, Brandon Phillips, Mariano Gonzalez, Marcos Garcia Del Rio) at Greenwich Polo Club. Marcos Garcia Del Rio of Postage Stamp Farm, brother of Tomas Garcia Del Rio, was named Most Valuable Player.

The 119th USPA Silver Cup heads another busy week at Aspen Valley Polo Club that will also host the Emma Challenge and Just For The Thrill Of It on Friday and Sunday.

The 119th USPA Silver Cup and Emma Challenge are the sixth and seventh tournaments of eleven grass tournaments and three arena tournaments being staged at AVPC in what is expected to be its best season featuring six 20-goal teams and four 16-goal teams.

Coming off its most successful summer season, Aspen Valley Polo Club lined up a star-studded roster of players to compete with and against patrons and amateur players.

The first five tournament winners of the 2019 summer season were: Piocho Ranch (Gussie Busch, Nacho Figueras, Tom Barrack, Alejandro Novillo Astrada), Basalt Handicap; La Karina (Brian Boyd, Carlitos Gracida, Sebastian Merlos, Kris Kampsen), USPA North American Cup; 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.

Other summer highlights are the July 23-August 6 USPA National Arena Handicap, Aug. 7-14 Arena World Cup and Sept. 1-8 Triple Crown of Polo.

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.

“We want polo to thrive here, and we want Aspen to be the summer polo destination in America,” said Melissa Ganzi.

Added Marc Ganzi, who grew up in Aspen: "We want to make Aspen Valley Polo Club the place for this Valley. Most importantly the idea is to de-mystify the game of polo that people have the impression that it's a sport you can't access, that you can't play.

"We've always told people to come here," Ganzi said. "The gates are open, the food is free, the drinks are free and your first polo lesson is free if you want to come take one and try the game. Our approach is come as you are. We prefer the flip flops over the high heels. We just want to get people to appreciate the horses and the Valley."

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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