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CARBONDALE, Colo., September 9, 2019---It may have taken two chukkers, but the World Polo League Triple Crown of Polo season-finale lived up to expectations Sunday at McClure River Ranch.

Audi (Marc Ganzi, Mariano Gracida, Nic Roldan, Juancito Bollini) led Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, Salvador Ulloa, Nacho Novillo Astrada, Juan Bollini) from start-to-finish but Flexjet made them work for it in the final chukker.

On a perfect day for polo, Audi held on for a thrilling 12-11 victory to win the coveted trophy and its second consecutive tournament of the summer polo season. Audi also won the Labor Day Challenge with Lauren Sherry, Salvador Ulloa, Roldan and Ganzi.

Roldan, the highest rated American player at eight goals, had one of his best games of his career with his big scoring hits and relentless defense and was the unanimous choice for Most Valuable Player.

The Aspen Valley Polo Club Best Playing Pony went to Tampa Glitter played by Mariano Gracida.

The American Polo Horse Association Best Playing Pony was Pitkin, played by Alejandro Novillo Astrada.

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.

"What a game today's final was," WPL Commissioner Dale Smicklas said. "It was everything we hoped it would be. There was a five-goal difference early in the game and we kept saying it didn't mean much and the game ended up going down to the final seconds.

"It was a great game by both teams," Smicklas said. "It was a great way to wrap the season up. This is a magical place and magical experience. I couldn't have enjoyed it more."

Roldan scored a team-high five goals. Ganzi had three and Bollini added two goals. Audi also received two goals on handicap.

For Flexjet, Novillo Astrada had a game-high eight goals. Melissa Ganzi had three goals including one in the sixth chukker.

Audi, playing well on both ends of the field, jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the opening chukker and 6-2 advantage after two chukkers.

Flexjet started digging itself out of a hole behind Astrada's three goals and trailed by three at the half, 8-5. Flexjet came within two, 9-7, when Roldan missed a hook on Melissa Ganzi, who scored her second goal of the game.

Audi kept its composure and always had the lead but Flexjet made it interesting with 3:26 left in the game. With Audi leading, 12-9, Melissa Ganzi scored, Novillo Astrada scored on a 130-yarder and converted a 60-yard penalty shot to score three unanswered goals to trail, 12-11.

With 29 seconds left, Flexjet missed one final scoring opportunity as time ran out.

Following the final, Los Amigos Blue (Alejandra Foster, Alfredo Bigatti, Sebastian Merlos, Stewart Armstrong) won the Just For The Fun Of It Cup, the subsidiary three-team round robin, a 4.5-3 win over Los Amigos Red (Tincho Merlos, Carlitos Gracida, Nacho Novillo Astrada, Paul Foster).

Sebastian Merlos was selected Most Valuable Player.

Peridot, owned and played by Alejandra Foster and bred by Wellington, Fla.-based Santa Rita Polo Farm, was named Best Playing Pony.

Kampsen earned the Intermix Award for the Best Play of the Game. Payne was awarded the Shot of the Day.

In the other two round robin games, Los Amigos Blue defeated Mountain Chevrolet (Michael Payne, Pablo Spinacci, Lucas Lalor, Kris Kampsen) despite a rain delay, 9-4, and Los Amigos Red edged Mountain Chevrolet, 5-4.5.

For Los Amigos Blue, Sebastian Merlos and Alejandra Foster each had four goals. Armstrong had three goals. Los Amigos was also awarded .5 on handicap. Payne led Mountain Chevrolet with five goals in six chukkers.

In the final three-chukkers, the lead changed hands six times in the first two chukkers, before Los Amigos Blue regained the lead, 3.5-2 with goals from Bigatti and Alejandro Novillo Astrada. With 3:27 left, Los Amigos Blue led 4.5-2.

Nacho Novillo Astrada scored in the final minute to trail 4.5-3, but could get no closer as time ran out.

Aspen Valley Polo Club finished its most successful and historic season in club and Rocky Mountain Circuit history. The club hosted several 20-goal tournaments including the 119th USPA Silver Cup and USPA North American Cup, attracted some of the world's top players and had record crowds every weekend. The 20-goal World Polo League's Triple Crown of Polo tournament featured five teams and several top players.

"This is priceless to me," Smicklas said. "It's absolutely a pleasure for us polo enthsiasts and former professionals to see there is another big season of high goal polo in the United States outside of Wellington, Fla. This is such a beautiful place for the sport.

"It's amazing to see the growth of polo in Colorado," Smicklas said. "It's the foresight of Marc and Melissa Ganzi and Bob Jornayvaz, founders of the World Polo League, who saw there was a segment missing in the U.S. at this level. The polo you are witnessing today you are going to see over and over again in the future year after year."

The trophy is one of the sport's most coveted and prestigious in the world. Designed by Tiffany & Co., the magnificent trophy is comprised of three separate trophies that fit perfectly together to create an entire polo scene that is breathtaking in sterling silver.

Audi's player names will be inscribed on the trophy and added to an impressive list of teams that feature several top players including Sebastian Merlos, Mike Azzaro, Tommy Biddle, Adam Snow, Nic Roldan, Matias Magrini, Jeff Hall, Mariano Gonzalez, Michel Dorignac and Kris Kampsen.

The Triple Crown of Polo, an ESPN2 television series, was created in 2005 by David McLane, known for Pro Beach Hockey, Women of Wrestling and Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, to help promote polo in the U.S. The spectacular trophy was created for the event that had stops in Sarasota, Dallas, Santa Barbara and Aiken during its heyday.

In last year's season-finale, first-year team Mandarina (Sarah Magness, Melissa Ganzi, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Juan Bollini) defeated Woodrow Farm (Leigh Brecheen, Marc Ganzi, Nic Roldan, Tano Vial), 7-6. Astrada was Most Valuable Player.

Joining WPL Triple Crown of Polo champion Audi, other 2019 summer tournament champions were: McClure River Ranch Pink (Melissa Ganzi, Alejandra Foster, Lauren Sherry, Juan Bollini), Battle of the Sexes; Audi (Lauren Sherry, Salvador Ulloa, Nic Roldan, Marc Ganzi), Labor Day Challenge; Los Amigos Red (Paul Foster, Nacho Novillo Astrada, Juancito Bollini, Juan Bollini), Carbondale Classic; Los Amigos Blue (Alejandra Foster, Alfredo Bigatti, Pablo Spinacci, Juancito Bollini), Rocky Mountain Handicap; Mountain Chevrolet (Michael Payne, Grant Ganzi, Hilario Ulloa, Salvador Ulloa), Rocky Mountain Open; La Karina (Brian Boyd, Lauren Sherry, Carlitos Gracida, Sebastian Merlos), Mount Sopris Cup; Tonkawa (Jeff Hildebrand, Juan Martin Obregon, Sapo Caset, Mason Wroe), 119th USPA Silver Cup; 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), 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 (Gabriel Gracida, Nacho Figueras, Salvador Ulloa), the season-opening Independence Cup winners.

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.

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.

Since 2014, 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 including the Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation.

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