120.jpg

CARBONDALE, Colo., July 29, 2019---Los Amigos Blue, trailing going into final day action, won the Emma Challenge Sunday at Aspen Valley Polo Club's McClure River Ranch.

Los Amigos Blue (Alejandra Foster, Alejandro Poma, Salvador Ulloa, Juan Bollini) defeated Los Amigos Red (Grant Ganzi, Pablo Spinacci, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Paul Foster), 12-9, in the final three chukkers of the championship round robin.

It was Alejandra Foster's second consecutive Emma Challenge title after winning last season with La Karina. She finished with four goals. Ganzi led Los Amigos Red with five goals.

Argentine 7-goaler Salvador Ulloa was named Most Valuable Player. Ulloa finished with four goals.

Moon Quartz, a 6-year-old, played by Alejandro Novillo Astrada was Best Playing Pony.

Cruella de Ville, a 4-year-old, played by Pablo Spinacci, was American Polo Horse Association Best Playing Pony.

The American Polo Horse Association was created in 2006 by the legendary Polo Hall of Famer Sunny Hale to recognize polo ponies in America and encourages events that showcase them and hard-working dedication of grooms.

The two-day, three-team tournament used a unique round robin format. The scores from Friday were carried over into Sunday's final. Los Amigos Red went in at plus-3, Los Amigos Blue at plus-2 and Mountain Chevrolet at minus-5.

Los Amigos Blue finished with 12 goals, Los Amigos Red had nine and Mountain Chevrolet (Lauren Sherry, Michael Payne, Carlitos Gracida, Tincho Merlos) finished with seven goals.

In Friday's opening round robin, Los Amigos Red (Nico Harriot, Pablo Spinacci, Nic Roldan, Paul Foster) opened with a 5-4 victory over Los Amigos Blue (Alejandra Foster, Alejandro Poma, Salvador Ulloa, Juan Bollini). Los Amigos Blue defeated Mountain Chevrolet (Lauren Sherry, Michael Payne, Tincho Merlos, Carlitos Gracida), 6-3, and Los Amigos Red edged Mountain Chevrolet, 5-3.

The Emma Challenge 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.

Last year's Emma Challenge Cup winner was 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).

The Emma Challenge is named after the town of Emma, Colo., located on Highway 82 between Carbondale and Aspen.

Los Amigos Blue joins 2019 summer season tournament winners: 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 with some of the world's top players. The Aug. 11 final, set for one of the club's two new 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 30-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.

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.

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.

Comment