Defending Champion Piocho Ranch, Flexjet, Los Amigos Play Wednesday In Independence Cup Season-Opener
Aspen Valley Polo Club, the summer destination for polo, opens the season Wednesday with the Independence Cup.
By Sharon Robb
A round-robin between defending champion Piocho Ranch, Flexjet and Los Amigos gets under way at 1 p.m. (Mountain Standard Time) at AVPC’s new Field One at McClure Ranch.
Team rosters are:
Piocho Ranch (16): Tom Barrack, 0, Gabriel Gracida, 4, Nacho Figueras, 6, Salvador Ulloa, 6.
Flexjet (12): Melissa Ganzi, 0, Brian Boyd, 0, Carlitos Gracida, 4, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 8.
Los Amigos (14): Paul Foster, 0, Grant Ganzi, 3, Stewart Armstrong, 3, Nacho Novillo Astrada, 8.
In the opening match, Flexjet plays Piocho Ranch. The winner sits and Los Amigos plays the last six chukkers. The game will be live streamed by Wellington, Fla.-based ChukkerTV at 3 p.m. (EST) with Dale Schwetz calling the action.
Coming off its most successful summer season, Aspen Valley Polo Club is lining up a star-studded roster of players for the summer to compete with and against patrons and amateur players.
The club, with an additional two new polo fields this season, will offer eleven grass tournaments and three arena tournaments from the Independence Cup to the Sept. 1-8 Triple Crown of Polo in what is expected to be its most successful season.
Last year’s Independence Cup winner was Piocho Ranch (Riley Ganzi, Carlitos Gracida, Nacho Figueras, Tom Barrack) with an 8-6 victory over Aspen Valley Polo Club (Melissa Ganzi, Marc Ganzi, Pablo Dorignac, Juan Bollini). Figueras was MVP.
In 2017, La Karina (Carlitos Gracida, Mariano Gracida, Brian Boyd, Marc Ganzi) won with a thrilling 9-7 victory over Aspen Valley Polo Club (Collen Clark, Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Lucas Lalor). Boyd was Most Valuable Player after scoring five goals.
Gracida, the son of legendary Hall of Famer and former 10-goaler Carlos Gracida, has won the Independence Cup three consecutive years. In 2016, he was a member of the winning Flexjet team.
In 2018, La Karina and Los Amigos were the season’s winningest teams, each winning three tournament titles. In 2017, Casablanca was the club’s winningest team also with three tournament wins.
Other 2018 grass tournament winners were: Piocho Ranch, Independence Cup and Craig Sakin Memorial; Los Amigos Blue, ChukkerTV Challenge; La Karina, Basalt Handicap, Emma Challenge Cup and Rocky Mountain Cup; Los Amigos Red, High Alpine Cup; Tonkawa, Mount Sopris Cup and Mandarina, Triple Crown of Polo.
Among the 2019 summer highlights is the 119th USPA Silver Cup. The Aug. 11 final, set for one of the club’s two newest fields, will be coupled 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 nearly $1 million dollars in the last two years to benefit Aspen Valley Hospital.
Ticket packages range from $250 (Early Bird general admission single ticket if purchased before July 11) to $25,000 Luxury VIP Gold (table for 12) and $100,000 Luxury VIP Diamond package (30 guests). The $50,000 Luxury VIP Platinum (20 guests) has already sold out. For more information 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, Gladiator Tuesdays and Asado, Kids 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.
“We want polo to thrive here, and we want Aspen to be the summer polo destination in America,” said Melissa Ganzi.
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 recently featured some of the club’s 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. 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 and Aspen Valley Polo Club Boutique.
2019 Aspen Valley Polo Club Summer Polo Series
Independence Cup Wednesday
7/3 1:00 p.m. MST
Aspen Valley Polo Club Field One at McClure Ranch
Craig Sakin Memorial 7/5 – 7/7
USPA North American Cup Draw 7/12
ChukkerTV Challenge Cup 7/12 – 7/14
USPA North American Cup 7/14 – 7/20
Basalt Handicap 7/19 – 7/21
USPA Silver Cup Draw 7/20
USPA National Arena Handicap July 23 – August 6
USPA Silver Cup July 24-August 11
Emma Challenge Cup July 26-28
ChukkerTV Arena Challenge July 30
High Alpine Cup 8/2 – 8/4
Arena World Cup 8/7 – 8/14
Rocky Mountain Open 8/9 – 8/17
Mount Sopris Cup 8/16 – 8/18
Carbondale Classic 8/23 – 8/25
2019 PoloFest Denver 8/31
The Triple Crown of Polo Trophy 9/1 – 9/8
Visit www.aspenvalleypoloclub.com for more details.