CARBONDALE, Colo., July 25, 2019---The seventh tournament of the summer polo season gets under way Friday with the Emma Challenge Cup at Sopris Mountain Ranch.
In another bustling week of activity at the club, the Emma Challenge Cup and Just For The Thrill Of Cup will share center stage with the prestigious 119th USPA Silver Cup which begins Saturday at McClure River Ranch.
The Emma Challenge Cup will be held Friday and Sunday. On Friday at 11:30 a.m. a unique format will feature Los Amigos Red, Los Amigos Blue and Mountain Chevrolet playing a round robin at Sopris Mountain Ranch. Los Amigos Red and Los Amigos Blue will play the first six chukkers. The winner sits and Mountain Chevrolet plays the last six chukkers.
On Sunday at McClure River Ranch Field One, the round robin scores will continue from Friday's action and the winner will be determined after another round robin. The final is 11 a.m. followed by the Just For The Thrill Of It Cup at 1 p.m.
Team rosters are:
Los Amigos Blue: Alejandra Foster, Alejandro Poma, Juan Bollini, Salvador Ulloa.
Los Amigos Red: Paul Foster, Pablo Spinacci, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Nico Harriet.
Mountain Chevrolet: Michael Payne, Lauren Sherry, Tincho Merlos, Carlitos Gracida.
The Emma Challenge Cup is the seventh 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 lined up a star-studded field 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.
Argentine 8-goaler Tincho Merlos, fresh off the British season, Alejandro Poma and Nico Harriet will make their summer polo debut in Aspen. Merlos competed in Great Britain for 22-goal Emlor with teammates Spencer McCarthy, Alfredo Bigatti and Michel Del Carril.
Poma is a frequent player at Aspen Valley Polo Club's sister club Grand Champions Polo Club in Wellington, Fla. He has won several tournaments including the 2018 The Memorial with his Intercontinental Hotel team at Grand Champions and 2017 High Alpine Cup in Aspen with Aspen Polo Club teammates Grant Ganzi, Lucas Lalor and Juancito Bollini.
Last year's Emma Challenge Cup winner was defending champion La Karina (Alejandra Foster, Brian Boyd, Stewart Armstrong, Nacho Novillo Astrada) with a thrilling 8-7 overtime victory over Piocho Ranch (Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Nacho Figueras, Tom Barrack). Nacho Novillo Astrada scored the winning goal with four minutes left in overtime.
The Emma Challenge Cup is named after the town of Emma, Colo., located on Highway 82 between Carbondale and Aspen.
Emma was once a sizable town in the past. The three buildings on the north side of the road are on the state historical register and preserved site. There is a church directly across the highway on the north side. There is a small trail on the north side of the road taking visitors up to the site.
The first five tournament winners of the 2019 summer season were: Piocho Ranch (Gussie Busch, Nacho Figueras, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Tom Barrack), 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; 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 which begins Saturday with some of the world's top players. The Aug. 11 final, set for one of the club's two newest fields at McClure River Ranch in front of a sellout crowd, 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.
All event tickets are sold out. To be placed on a waiting list please 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.