By Sharon Robb
Mexico rallied in the final chukker to advance into Sunday’s Mount Sopris Cup championship final against Travieso at Aspen Valley Polo Club.
Mexico, with Billy Steta making his Aspen debut, Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini and Carlitos Gracida, outscored Flexjet (Alejandra Foster, Lauren Sherry, Juan Bollini, Alejandro Novillo Astrada), 3-1, in the ninth chukker of a round-robin and went on to win 6-4 on Friday.
Ganzi, Bollini and Gracida scored goals in the final chukker. With the game tied 4-4 with 1:20 left, Ganzi converted a penalty-two to take the lead and Gracida lofted a goal to ice the win.
Ganzi and Gracida each finished with two goals and Steta and Bollini each scored one goal. Juan Bollini led Flexjet with two goals.
In the opening round-robin game, Mexico defeated Los Amigos Blue (Jonathan Gracida, Pablo Dorignac, Lucas Lalor, Paul Foster), 5-3. Bollini led with three goals and Ganzi added two. In the other game, Flexjet defeated Los Amigos Blue, 4-3.
Bollini, 21, and Ganzi, 19, will go after their fifth tournament victory as teammates this season.
It will be the second consecutive appearance for Steta, president of the Mexican Polo Federation, and Gracida in the Mount Sopris Cup final. Last year Team Steta (Billy Steta, Brian Boyd, Nic Roldan, Carlitos Gracida) won the title. The foursome defeated Flexjet (Alejandra Foster, Marc Ganzi, Alex Gooding, Julio Novillo Astrada), 12-11.
Travieso (Teo Calle, Tony Calle, Nacho Novillo Astrada, Marc Ganzi), coming off last week’s 14-9 loss to Aspen Valley Polo Club (Alejandro Poma, Grant Ganzi, Lucas Lalor, Juancito Bollini), will make its second championship appearance after edging La Karina (Brian Boyd, Alex Gooding, Mike Azzaro, Stewart Armstrong), 6-5, in Thursday’s opening tournament game.
The highlight on Sunday will be the Chukkers, Champagne & Caviar Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation Fundraiser.
During the fundraiser, there will be live and silent auctions, pony rides, kids activities, various vendor tents and live gravity-defying aerial silks performance by the talented Allie Azzaro.
The three-day tournament will be live streamed by ChukkerTV.
On Saturday, the two-team Aloha Cup will be held featuring La Karina (Ailsa “Ace” Currier, Carlitos Gracida, Harrison Azzaro, Charlie Jacobs) and Travieso (Michael Calle, Will Jacobs, Juan Bollini, Melissa Ganzi).