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CARBONDALE, Colo., August 12, 2019---La Karina won its second tournament of the summer polo season Sunday at McClure River Ranch.

The reigning USPA North American Cup champion won the Mount Sopris Cup with a thrilling 11-10 overtime victory over Audi.

Sebastian Merlos scored a game-high five goals including the game-winner with seven minutes left in sudden death. Merlos won the throw-in and then seconds later picked up a loose ball and scored.

Merlos was named Most Valuable Player. Rebecca, played by 12-year-old Fran Spinacci and owned by Melissa Ganzi and Wellington-based Santa Rita Polo Farm, was Best Playing Pony.

After leading 6-4 at the half, La Karina (Brian Boyd, Lauren Sherry, Carlitos Gracida, Sebastian Merlos) pulled away for an 8-5 lead after the fourth chukker. Audi (Marc Ganzi, Nic Roldan, Nacho Figueras, Fran Spinacci) started to chip away at La Karina's lead. Fran Spinacci scored back-to-back goals to tie the game, 8-8, late in the fifth chukker.

Boyd converted a 30-yard penalty and Sherry connected on a pass to Gracida who scored to give La Karina a 10-8 lead with 3:40 left in regulation. With a minute left, Roldan scored on a long lofted goal and found Figueras open to tie the game 10-10, sending the game into overtime.

In addition to Merlos' five goals, Gracida had 3, Sherry had 2 and Boyd added one. Ganzi led Audi with four goals. Figueras had three, Spinacci scored back-to-back goals in the fifth chukker and Roldan had one goal.

La Karina played a role in the club's biggest day in polo, featuring 18 chukkers. The historical day started off with the 119th USPA Silver Cup won by undefeated Tonkawa, followed by the Mount Sopris Cup and For The Love Of It Cup in front of a soldout crowd and VIP tent.

Los Amigos Red (Paul Foster, Alejandra Foster, Juan Bollini, Agustin "Tincho" Merlos) won the Just For The Love Of It Cup with a 10-7 victory over Mountain Chevrolet (Michael Payne, Alejandro Poma, Alfredo Bigatti, Stewart Armstrong).

After a close game for five chukkers with the lead changing hands four times, Los Amigos Red pulled away in the final chukker with two goals from Merlos and one from Paul Foster.

Tincho Merlos had a game-high seven goals and was selected Most Valuable Player. Paul and Alejandra Foster and Bollini each had one goal. For Mountain Chevrolet, Bigatti had a team- high five goals and Poma added two goals.

Merlos' 8-year-old mare Welcome, the 2012 Horse of the Year, was Best Playing Pony.

The Mount Sopris Cup was the tenth tournament of the summer polo season.

In last year's Mount Sopris Cup, Tonkawa won the title in its summer polo debut at Aspen Valley Polo Cup. The foursome of Wesley Uys, Sapo Caset, Jeff Hildebrand and Mason Wroe defeated Mandarina (Alejandra Foster, Melissa Ganzi, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Nacho Novillo Astrada), 13-11. Caset was Most Valuable Player. The tournament was sponsored by Mandarina Polo & Equestrian.

Coming off its most successful summer season, Aspen Valley Polo Club lined up a star-studded field of players this season 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.

Joining La Karina as 2019 summer tournament champions are: Los Amigos Red (Alejandra Foster, Gabriel Gracida, Juan Bollini, Paul Foster), High Alpine Cup; Los Amigos Blue (Alejandra Foster, Alejandro Poma, Salvador Ulloa, Juan Bollini), Emma Challenge; 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.

Other home club tournaments are the Aug. 7-14 Arena World Cup, Aug. 9-17 Rocky Mountain Open, Aug. 23-25 Carbondale Classic and Sept. 1-8 Triple Crown of Polo. There is also the Aug. 31 PoloFest in Denver.

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 club 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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