Aspen Valley Polo Club ran away with the High Alpine Cup title Sunday with a stunning 14-9 victory over defending champion Travieso at Aspen Valley Polo Club.
The foursome of Alejandro Poma, Grant Ganzi, Lucas Lalor and Juancito Bollini led Travieso (Teo Calle, Marc Ganzi, Tony Calle, Mike Azzaro) by as many as nine goals (14-5) in the fourth chukker.
It was Aspen Valley Polo Club’s first tournament victory of the summer polo season and fourth tournament win for Bollini, 21, and Ganzi, 19, as teammates.
“It’s great, that’s a record for us,” Ganzi said.
Bollini scored a game-high seven goals and Paul Foster of Los Amigos Blue also scored seven goals in the subsidiary game against Flexjet to tie the single-game scoring club record held by Alex Gooding.
Lujan, a 7-year-old mare, played by Lalor and owned and bred (Juana and Twist of Lemon) by Wellington-based Santa Rita Polo Farm, was named Best Playing Pony.
Aspen Valley Polo Club played well as a four-man team backing each other up and anticipating plays while marking their men well.
“They are a train and not giving up,” said Peter Rizzo, guest commentator for ChukkerTV. “They are playing with passion.”
The opening chukker was tied, 3-3, with each team winning three throw-ins. Azzaro scored on an incredible belly shot to end the chukker. That was the closest Travieso would get.
“We have never really started out a game so strong,” Ganzi said. “We played as a team and was dialed in with a man. The entire team played well.”
The freight train started to roll in the second chukker taking Travieso out of its game and rhythm.
Bollini opened the second chukker stealing the ball from Azzaro and scoring after Ganzi took the man out to clear the way for Bollini.
With two goals each from Bollini and Lalor, Aspen Valley Polo Club outscored Travieso, 4-1, in the second chukker for a 7-4 lead. Bollini had the shot of the day scoring from 100 yards out on a one-shot penalty-five with a minute left in the chukker.
Lalor opened the third chukker with a goal after a great scoring run. Bollini then followed up Lalor’s missed goal for his fifth goal of the game and 9-4 lead. Poma followed with a back shot for his team’s tenth goal.
Tony Calle lofted a 60-yarder to convert a penalty four just before the half to cut the lead to 10-5.
Bollini, riding Campeon, and his teammates came out in the fourth chukker firing four unanswered points for a 14-5 advantage, the team’s biggest lead of the game.
Both teams played to a scoreless tie in the fifth chukker. Travieso outscored Aspen Valley Polo Club, 4-0, in the final chukker.
“We just had a good plan going in,” Ganzi said. “We knew we had to be disciplined and focused, that’s the first thing Juan and I talked about. We were thinking man first. When they let one of us loose, that person made a difference every time.
“We played as a team,” Ganzi said. “We knew it was going to be a tough game. We really wanted to win this tournament.”
Bollini and Ganzi have been talking about winning the High Alpine Cup since arriving in Aspen last month, they said.
“We have been talking about this tournament and luckily we pulled it off,” Bollini said. “This was a very tough competitive game and fun to play. We were really happy to win.”
It was a career-high seven goals in a medium or high goal tournament for Bollini.
“I just told myself not to focus on mechanics or how well the horses do, I just wanted to focus on being in the game,” Bollini said.
In addition to Bollini’s seven goals, Poma and Lalor each had three goals. Teo Calle led Travieso with four goals and Tony Calle and Mike Azzaro each had two goals.
In the subsidiary final, Juan Bollini scored the winning goal with 32 seconds remaining to give Flexjet (Alejandra Foster, Melissa Ganzi, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Juan Bollini) a 10-9 victory over Los Amigos Blue (Paul Foster, Gabriel Gracida, Pablo Dorignac, Stewart Armstrong) to win the title.
In addition to Paul Foster’s seven goals, Alejandra Foster scored a team-high four goals for Flexjet. Ganzi, Astrada, Bollini and Armstrong each had two goals.
In the other subsidiary game at High Mesa, Tonkawa (Jeff Hildebrand, Brian Boyd, Nacho Novillo Astrada, Jimmy Seward) and Sopris Mountain Ranch (Carlitos Gracida, Ailsa “Ace” Currier/Santos Bollini, Alex Gooding, Ramiro Cordero) played to a 5-5 tie. Gooding had a game-high three goals including the tying goal in the sixth chukker.
The High Alpine Cup is the seventh of 12 tournaments scheduled, eight grass and four arena tournaments.
This season’s first six summer tournament winners were La Karina (Carlitos Gracida, Mariano Gracida, MVP Brian Boyd, Marc Ganzi), Independence Cup; Tiburon (Collen Clark, Lauren Sherry, Pablo Dorignac, MVP Lucas Lalor), ChukkerTV Challenge Cup; Casablanca (MVPs Mariano Gracida, Grant Ganzi, Pablo Dorignac, Juancito Bollini), Basalt Handicap; Casablanca (Santos Bollini, Grant Ganzi, Lucas Lalor, Juancito Bollini), Craig Sakin Memorial; La Karina (Brian Boyd, Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Mike Azzaro), Emma Challenge and Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, Juan Bollini, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, United States Arena Handicap.
Aspen Valley Polo Club, the nation’s fastest growing USPA polo club, is coming off its most successful summer season in club history. The club, which recently broke ground for two more fields, is enjoying increased membership, continues to grow and introduce polo throughout the valley.
The club attracts some of the world’s top pro and amateur players. 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.
Polo has increased in popularity in Aspen and surrounding areas with the club’s offerings of various weekly tournaments, Gladiator Tuesdays and Asado, 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.
Chukker TV is live streaming the entire summer polo schedule.