Audi Wins Labor Day Challenge; Salvador Ulloa Named Season, Game Most Valuable Player
|Audi won its first tournament of the summer polo season Sunday in front of a packed house at McClure River Ranch.|
By Sharon Robb
Audi (Lauren Sherry, Salvador Ulloa, Nic Roldan, Marc Ganzi) took control early and led from start-to-finish to defeat La Karina (Carlitos Gracida, Brian Boyd, Lucas Lalor, Sebastian Merlos), 10-6, to capture the inaugural Labor Day Challenge.
Argentine 7-goaler Salvadore Ulloa, known throughout the season as “Mr. Hustle,” was named Game and Season Most Valuable Player. Maestra was selected Best Playing Pony.
Audi jumped out to a 2-0 lead and pulled away for a 4-1 lead after two chukkers. Playing well defensively, Audi never let La Karina into the game which had problems finding consistency in its offense. Audi led 6-3 at the half and outscored La Karina, 4-3, in the second half.
Roldan led Audi with a game-high four goals. Ulloa and Ganzi each had three goals. Gracida led La Karina with three goals. Merlos had two goals and Boyd added one goal.
In the Just For The Love Of It subsidiary game, Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, Alejandra Foster, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Hilario Ulloa) edged Los Amigos Red (Gussie Busch, Tincho Merlos, Nacho Novillo Astrada, Paul Foster), 9-8.
Ulloa was Most Valuable Player. It was Ulloa’s final appearance in Aspen. He was scheduled to return to Argentina on Monday. “Thank you Aspen,” Ulloa said during the awards ceremony.
Rebecca, a 17-year-old mare played and owned by Melissa Ganzi, was Best Playing Pony.
In the highlight of the game, Ulloa broke his mallet during a play but was able to carry the ball downfield dropping it in front of the goal posts to enable Alejandra Foster to score.
Flexjet led 8-6 going into the sixth chukker and 9-7 after Melissa Ganzi scored. Paul Foster converted a 30-yard penalty but ran out of time.
For Flexjet, Ganzi scored a game-high six goals. Foster had two goals and Ulloa added one.
Paul Foster led Los Amigos Red with three goals. Nacho Novillo Astrada had and Merlos each had two goals and Busch added one.
In the Just For The Thrill Of It Cup, McClure River Ranch (Pablo Spinacci, Juancito Bollini, Jared Zenni, Stewart Armstrong) defeated Mountain Chevrolet (Michael Payne, Kris Kampsen, Alfredo Bigatti, Juan Bollini), 10-6.
Spinacci was Most Valuable Player and NASA, an 8-year-old American thoroughbred played by Bigatti, was Best Playing Pony.
McClure River Ranch pulled away for a 6-3 lead after the second chukker and led by one at the half, 6-5. Payne’s goal early in the fourth chukker tied the game at 6-6 but back-to-back penalty conversions by Zenni enabled McClure River Ranch to pull away for good.
For McClure River Ranch, Zenni scored a game-high five goals. Spinacci added three goals and Juancito Bollini had two goals.
Payne led Mountain Chevrolet with three goals. Kampsen, Bigatti and Juan Bollini each had one goal.
On Monday, the Battle of the Sexes will pit women against men with a twist at Aspen Valley Polo Club at 11 a.m.
McClure River Ranch Pink (Melissa Ganzi, Alejandra Foster, Lauren Sherry, Juan Bollini) will play McClure River Ranch Cream (Paul Foster, Brian Boyd, Grant Ganzi, Stewart Armstrong).
During Sunday’s tripleheader, Aspen Valley Polo Club fans and players helped celebrate Labor Day, a day set aside to pay tribute to working men and women, that have helped provide the social, political and economic backbone of this country. It has been celebrated as a national holiday in the United States and Canada since 1894.
Coming off its most successful summer season, Aspen Valley Polo Club lined up a star-studded field of players including Hilario and Salvador 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.
Audi now joins other 2019 summer tournament champions: 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 the Ganzis 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.
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.
2019 Aspen Valley Polo Club Summer Polo Series
Labor Day Challenge Cup
11 a.m. at Aspen Valley Polo Club
Battle Of The Sexes (Plus One)
McClure River Ranch Pink vs McClure River Ranch Cream
The Triple Crown of Polo Trophy 9/1 – 9/8
Arena World Cup, 9/1-9/8
All game time are MST