The Basalt Handicap, featuring five teams, and USPA National Youth Tournament Series qualifier highlights another busy week at Aspen Valley Polo Club.
The two-day medium goal tournament begins Friday with a doubleheader. A round-robin at 11 a.m. MST at Sopris Field opens the action followed by a six-chukker game at High Mesa Field.
On Sunday, the subsidiary is 11 a.m. followed by the final at 1 p.m. at Aspen Valley Polo Club which will also host a daylong WindWalkers Fundraiser.
The fundraiser will benefit WindWalkers Equine Assisted Learning and Therapy Center. Founded in 2005, the non-profit’s mission is to provide a variety of equine-assisted therapies to aid in the development and growth of those with challenges including physical, neurological, emotional, behavioral or psychological.
Youth polo takes center stage on Saturday with the USPA NYTS (National Youth Tournament Series) qualifier at Sopris Field at 11 a.m.followed by Kidz Polo at noon.
Players from as far away as Hawaii will compete in the NYTS event to try and qualify for the Sept 1-4 National Championship at Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club in Carpinteria, Calif.
The NYTS qualifier season began earlier this year and continues through August 7. All-Stars are selected by a committee at each qualifier based on horsemanship, sportsmanship, playing ability at their handicap and ability to play with a team. This year, a new second level East vs. West Challenge will be held during the NYTS Championship weekend for players rated 0 goals and below.
The Basalt Handicap is named after the town that began as a railroad town and was named for the basaltic rock formation on Basalt Mountain.
Last year’s Basalt Handicap winner was La Karina (Brian Boyd, Tony Calle, Julio Novillo Astrada, Stewart Armstrong) for the second consecutive year. Trailing 7-3 in the fourth chukker, La Karina rallied for a 9-8 win over Flexjet (Ale Poma, Marc Ganzi, Sebastian Merlos, Alex Gooding). Armstrong was named Most Valuable Player. Los Amigos won the subsidiary game.
Aspen Valley Polo Club, the nation’s fastest growing polo club, is coming off its most successful summer season in club history. The club, enjoying an increased membership, continues to grow and introduce polo throughout the valley.
The club has attracted some of the world’s top pro and amateur players. This season the pro lineup features Hall of Famer Mike Azzaro, a former 10-goaler for thirteen years and winner of eight U.S. Open titles; brothers Nacho and Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Juan Bollini, brothers Carlitos and Mariano Gracida and Lucas Lalor.
In the last four years Aspen Valley Polo Club has had a positive impact in the area hosting kids polo camps, teaching lessons and hosting several charitable events at the club that have benefitted local charities including the Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation.
The Basalt Handicap is the third of 12 tournaments scheduled, eight grass and four arena tournaments including the July 25-Aug. 6 USPA National Arena Handicap.
This season’s first two tournament winners were La Karina (Carlitos Gracida, Mariano Gracida, MVP Brian Boyd, Marc Ganzi) in the Independence Cup and Tiburon (Collen Clark, Lauren Sherry, Pablo Dorignac, MVP Lucas Lalor) in last weekend’s ChukkerTV Challenge Cup.
Last summer’s tournament winners were: Los Amigos Red, Rocky Mountain Open; Steta Polo Team, Mount Sopris Cup; ChukkerTV, ChukkerTV Arena Challenge; Travieso and Los Amigos, High Alpine Cup; Tonkawa, Emma Challenge; La Karina, Basalt Handicap; Travieso, Craig Sakin Memorial and ChukkerTV Challenge Cup; and Flexjet, Carbondale Classic and Independence Cup.
Polo has increased in popularity in Aspen and surrounding areas with the club’s offerings of various weekly tournaments, Gladiator Tuesdays, Kids Polo, indoor and outdoor arena polo, charitable events and The Polo School. Practice sessions are also held for teams competing in the weekend tournaments.
In August 2014, polo players and patrons Marc and Melissa Ganzi opened the Aspen Valley Polo Club to rave reviews by the community and players. Both co-own the club and its sister polo club Grand Champions in Wellington, Fla. and have played key roles in the sport’s growth and popularity.
Chukker TV is live streaming the entire summer polo schedule. ChukkerTV, featuring cutting-edge technology, was the first to introduce state-of-the-art live streaming technology and instant replay in January, 2014 at Grand Champions Polo Club.
2017 SUMMER POLO SCHEDULE
Friday, Basalt Handicap, 11 a.m. MST, round robin at Sopris Field; 4 p.m. regulation game at High Mesa Field; Saturday, NYTS Qualifier at Sopris Field, 11 a.m., Kidz Polo, noon; Sunday, Basalt Handicap, subsidiary 11 a.m., final 1 p.m.
July 21-23, Craig Sakin Memorial
July 25-Aug. 6, USPA National Arena Handicap
July 28-30, Emma Challenge
Aug. 4-6, High Alpine Cup
Aug. 8-15, Arena World Cup
Aug. 9, ChukkerTV Arena Challenge
Aug. 11-13, Mount Sopris Cup
Aug. 18-20, Rocky Mountain Open
Aug. 25-27, Carbondale Classic
ASPEN VALLEY POLO CLUB
CLUB ADDRESS: 3275 County Road 100, Carbondale, Colo. 81623
POLO HOTLINE: 970-710-1663