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CARBONDALE, Colo., August 5, 2019---The stage is set for the semifinals of the prestigious USPA 119th Silver Cup.

Tonkawa (3-0), the only undefeated team remaining in the six-team tournament, will play Flexjet (1-2) and Audi (2-1) and Casablanca (2-1) will play the other semifinal at McClure River Ranch. The winner advances into Sunday's championship.

In front of good local crowds and USPA Polo Network worldwide audience on Saturday, Tonkawa (Jeff Hildebrand, 0, Juan Martin Obregon, 5, Sapo Caset, 10, Mason Wroe, 4) advanced with an 11-6 victory over McClure River Ranch (Salvador Lockey, 2, Stewart Armstrong, 3, Alfredo Bigatti, 8, Kris Kampsen, 6) at High Mesa.

Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, A, Gussie Busch, 2, Hilario Ulloa, 10, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 8) came from behind to knock off reigning USPA North American Cup champion La Karina (Brian Boyd, .5, Tincho Merlos, 8, Sebastian Merlos, 8, Carlitos Gracida, 4), with a hardfought 15-14 win and claimed the Mandarina Cup at McClure River Ranch.

On Sunday, Audi (Marc Ganzi, 2, Hilario Figueras, 3, Nic Roldan, 8, Jared Zenni, 6) upset previously unbeaten Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, 3, Juancito Bollini, 4, Lucas Lalor, 5, Nacho Novillo Astrada, 8/Salvador Ulloa, 7), 11-6, at McClure River Ranch. At 2-0, Casablanca already had a spot clinched and now will have a rematch against Audi.

After a close first half, Tonkawa had no problem putting away McClure River Ranch in the second half with a balanced offensive attack.

Tonkawa shut out McClure River Ranch in the opening chukker and pulled away for a 4-1 lead after two chukkers. McClure River Ranch bounced back to shut out Tonkawa, 3-0, in the third chukker for a 4-4 halftime lead. Tonkawa came out strong in the second half to outscore McClure River Ranch 7-2 including a 3-0 fourth chukker.

Obregon and Caset each scored five goals to lead Tonkawa. Wroe added one. Kampsen led McClure River Ranch with three goals, Lockey had two and Armstrong added one.

"It's super fun playing with this team," Obregon said. "It's been competitive and tough. The good thing is we are doing well. I am really happy to be in the semis and looking forward to our next game."

Added Wroe, "We really don't have any dynamic, we just play polo and play as the game develops and it allows us to play. The game dictates how we play."

The La Karina-Flexjet matchup was probably the most exciting game in the tournament in front of a record crowd at McClure River Ranch Stadium.

La Karina dominated the first half with leads of 3-1, 5-3 and 8-5 at the half. But the momentum shifted in the second half. The physical game took an interesting twist late in the fourth chukker when officials decided to move up penalties because there were so many being committed and slowing the game down.

Flexjet, in a must-win situation with an 0-2 record, rallied in the second half, outscoring La Karina 10-6 in the final three chukkers. Flexjet came out in the fourth chukker with a 4-1 advantage to tie at 9-9.

The lead changed hands four times before Flexjet scored three unanswered goals. Astrada converted a 40-yard penalty, Ulloa made 40-yard and 60-yard penalty conversions for a 15-13 lead.

Tincho Merlos' 40-yard goal with 1:18 left cut the lead to one. Merlos then got the throw-in but Astrada picked up the loose ball and along with Ulloa ran out the clock.

Astrada led Flexjet with a team-high nine goals including eight on penalty conversions. Ulloa had five goals and another goal was a penalty-one. Tincho Merlos scored a game-high 10 goals including six penalty conversions. Gracida had three goals and Sebastian Merlos added one goal.

"It was a tough game, back and forth," Busch said. "Our first two games before that were also super tough. All the teams in the Silver Cup are amazing but we had to pull off a win to stay in the hunt and we made it happen. Our team played great. Our guys made all the penalty shots we needed to make and we pulled off the win."

Busch, one of the youngest players in the tournament, is trying to follow in his father's footsteps. Billy Busch won six Silver Cups during his career.

"My dad got me into polo," Busch said. "He won the Silver Cup all over the country. I don't know how we won it six times. It's hard for us to win a damn game. If I can win this thing one time I'll be happy."

In the third and final game, Audi came out on the attack in the first half and never relented. Audi shut out Casablanca, 3-0, in the second chukker for a 5-1 advantage and extended its lead 7-3 at halftime.

Casablanca lost 8-goaler Nacho Novillo Astrada to injury in the second half. Salvador Ulloa subbed for Astrada and played well.

Casablanca could never get its offense going, missing several scoring opportunities throughout the game. Audi had four knock-ins alone in the fifth chukker and finished with 10 knock-ins.

Roldan scored a 150-yard goal in the final minute of the fifth chukker to give Audi a 10-5 lead.

Audi got balanced scoring. Marc Ganzi led with four goals. Roldan had three, Figueras had two and Zenni added one. Audi also receive one goal on handicap. Grant Ganzi and Bollini each had two goals for Casablanca. Lalor and Ulloa each had one goal.

The Mandarina Cup, presented tp Flexjet for winning Saturday's USPA Silver Cup game, was sponsored by the Mandarina Polo & Equestrian Club, located along the Riviera Nayarit, nearly a 200-mile stretch of coastline in the Western Mexican state of Nayarit. The Mexican club and Aspen Valley Polo Club partnered to benefit both clubs' growing membership with VIP access.

The 119th USPA Silver Cup, the club's second USPA 20-goal tournament of the summer season, features several of the world's top polo players making its historical debut at Aspen Valley Polo Club.

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, Jeff Hall, Billy Busch 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 is being live streamed by USPA Polo Network on uspolo.org with Dale Schwetz calling the action.

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.

The event is 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 is among 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 six tournament winners of the 2019 summer season are: Los Amigos Blue (Alejandra Foster, Alejandro Poma, Salvador Ulloa, Juan Bollini), Emma Challenge; 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 Tuesday's United States Arena Handicap Final between two-time defending champion Flexjet and Casablanca; 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.

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.

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