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Piocho Ranch Wins Basalt Handicap; Alejandro Novillo Astrada Most Valuable Player

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Piocho Ranch Wins Basalt Handicap; Alejandro Novillo Astrada Most Valuable Player
CARBONDALE, Colo., July 22, 2019---Piocho Ranch won its second tournament of the summer season Sunday at Aspen Valley Polo Club's McClure River Ranch.

Basalt Handicap champion Piocho Ranch players Gussie Busch_ Nacho Figueras_ Tom Barrack and Alejandro Novillo Astrada.
Basalt Handicap champion Piocho Ranch players Gussie Busch, Nacho Figueras, Tom Barrack and Alejandro Novillo Astrada.


Piocho Ranch (Gussie Busch, Nacho Figueras, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Tom Barrack) defeated Los Amigos Blue (Alejandra Foster, Carlitos Gracida, Salvador Ulloa, Juan Bollini), 10-8.

Alejandro Novillo Astrada was named Most Valuable Player after scoring a game-high eight goals. He joins Kris Kampsen and Salvador Ulloa for most goals in a single game this season.

Alejandro Novillo Astrada of Piocho Ranch stretches to work near side shot.
Alejandro Novillo Astrada of Piocho Ranch stretches to work near side shot.

Chevy, an 8-year-old bay mare owned and played by Barrack in the fourth chukker, and bred by Figueras' Cria Yatay breeding operation in Argentina, was Best Playing Pony.

Heroica , a 5-year-old chestnut mare owned by 10-goaler Hilario Ulloa and played by his brother Salvador Ulloa, was American Horse Polo Association Best Playing Pony.

Salvador Ulloa of Los Amigos Blue works the sideboards with Nacho Figueras defending.
Salvador Ulloa of Los Amigos Blue works the sideboards with Nacho Figueras defending.

The American Polo Horse Association was created in 2006 by the legendary Polo Hall of Famer Sunny Hale to recognize polo ponies in America and encourages events that showcase them and hard-working dedication of grooms.

After finishing runner-up to La Karina (Brian Boyd, Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Lucas Lalor), 8-5, in last year's tournament, Piocho Ranch bounced back. Earlier this season Piocho Ranch also won the season-opening Independence Cup.

Alejandra Foster of Los Amigos Blue works the ball downfield with Tom Barrack defending.
Alejandra Foster of Los Amigos Blue works the ball downfield with Tom Barrack defending.

The game was held in honor of Jesus "Chuy" Baez. The well-liked polo player and groom at Grand Champions and Aspen Valley Polo Clubs died last season at age 60 in Aspen. Images from his life were played on the club's Jumbotron throughout the game and a moment of silence was held before the game.

The lead changed hands seven times in the first half before Piocho Ranch took a 7-6 halftime lead with back-to-back goals from Alejandro Novillo Astrada.

Alejandro Novillo Astrada of Piocho Ranch rides off Salvador Ulloa.
Alejandro Novillo Astrada of Piocho Ranch rides off Salvador Ulloa.

The fast-paced game continued to be close in the second half. The lead changed hands five more times before Piocho Ranch took control. Busch scored in the closing minute of the fifth chukker for a 9-8 lead and after a defensive sixth chukker Astrada scored an insurance goal with 47 seconds left. Los Amigos Red had several opportunities in the final chukker to score but could not convert.

Gussie Busch of Piocho Ranch on the defense to save a goal.
Gussie Busch of Piocho Ranch on the defense to save a goal.

In addition to Novillo Astrada's eight goals, Busch and Figueras each had one goal. Ulloa led Los Amigos Red with five goals. Foster, Gracida and Bollini each added one goal.

Los Amigos Red (Marc Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Nacho Novillo Astrada, Paul Foster) won the Just For The Love Of It subsidiary game with a 12-8 victory over Mountain Chevrolet (Lauren Sherry, Michael Payne, Lucas Lalor, Pablo Spinacci).

Alejandro Novillo Astrada of Piocho scores one of his eight goals with Juan Bollini defending.
Alejandro Novillo Astrada of Piocho scores one of his eight goals with Juan Bollini defending.

Lauren Sherry was named Most Valuable Player after scoring a team-high four goals. Payne added three goals and Spinacci added one. 

Los Amigos Red got balanced scoring from its players. Nacho Novillo Astrada led with four goals. Ganzi and Bollini each had three goals and Paul Foster added two.

Alejandro Novillo Astrada receives his MVP plaque from awards presenter Rachelle Barrack.
Alejandro Novillo Astrada receives his MVP plaque from awards presenter Rachelle Barrack.

Los Amigos Red led from start to finish taking a 7-4 halftime lead and pulling away in the second half.

The Basalt Handicap was the fifth of eleven grass tournaments and three arena tournaments being staged at AVPC in what is expected to be its best season.

Coming off its most successful summer season, Aspen Valley Polo Club has lined up a star-studded roster of players including Hilario 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.

Best Playing Pony Chevy_ 8-year-old bay owned and played by Tom Barrack.
Best Playing Pony Chevy, 8-year-old bay owned and played by Tom Barrack.

The Basalt Handicap honors the former railroad town which was named for the basaltic rock formation on Basalt Mountain. Basalt is known as a vacation mecca for families and sports enthusiasts. Located between Glenwood Springs and Aspen, world-class skiing and cultural opportunities are only minutes away. 

Among the variety of activities, Basalt still preserves it original, quaint charm. The fishing paradise sits at the junction of two Gold Medal rivers, the Frying Pan River and Roaring Fork River.

Aspen Valley Polo Club grooms competing during the Grooms Race.
Aspen Valley Polo Club grooms competing during the Grooms Race.

The first four tournament winners of the 2019 summer season were: 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 (Tom Barrack, Gabriel Gracida, Nacho Figueras, Salvador Ulloa), the season-opening Independence Cup winners.

Michael Payne of Mountain Chevrolet leans for the near side shot with Nacho Novillo Astrada defending.
Michael Payne of Mountain Chevrolet leans for the near side shot with Nacho Novillo Astrada defending.

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 at McClure River Ranch, will be paired with the annual Chukkers, Champagne & Caviar  fundraiser. Other top tournaments are the July 23-August 6 USPA National Arena Handicap, Aug. 7-14 Arena World Cup and Sept. 1-8 Triple Crown of Polo.

The club's summer marquis charity event, hosted by club owners Marc and Melissa Ganzi and Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation, has raised $1 million dollars in the last two years to benefit Aspen Valley Hospital.

Marc Ganzi of Los Amigos Red about to hit near side.
Marc Ganzi of Los Amigos Red about to hit near side.

General admission tickets remain on sale now. VIP tickets are sold out, according to Andrea Olson, marketing coordinator for the Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation. Please call 970-544-1302 to be placed on a waiting list.

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.

Michael Payne of Mountain Chevrolet chases down Juancito Bollini.
Michael Payne of Mountain Chevrolet chases down Juancito Bollini.

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,  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 weekend 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.

Nic Roldan and Kris Kampsen interviewed by Dale Schwetz about the upcoming 119th USPA Silver Cup.
Nic Roldan and Kris Kampsen interviewed by Dale Schwetz about the upcoming 119th USPA Silver Cup.

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.

The Ganzis are avid players and patrons and "have created a polo paradise" according to Piocho Ranch padron Tom Barrack. "You can go all over the world but you can't have these kind of people, players and horses in this setting. It's really a gift." Players, sponsors, community leaders and fans share Barrack's sentiments.

A good crowd was on hand to watch Basalt Handicap final that honored groom Chuy Baez on the club_s Jumbotron.
A good crowd was on hand to watch Basalt Handicap final that honored groom Chuy Baez on the club's Jumbotron.
Photos by Nick Tininenko/Aspen Valley Polo Club

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

July
 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

August
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

September
The Triple Crown of Polo Trophy 9/1 - 9/8

Visit www.aspenvalleypoloclub.com for more details.
All game time are MST

USPA Silver Cup 
 Photo by USPA
THE POLO SCHOOL

The Polo School and its Director Juan Bollini are dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grass roots youth. The school's mission is to provide individuals opportunities in polo. For lessons contact Juan Bollini at 561-346-1099.

              CHUKKERTV


ChukkerTV is live streaming the entire summer polo season. 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 in Wellington, Fla. For advertising opportunities on ChukkerTV please contact Mike Ferreira at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




ASPEN VALLEY POLO CLUB

CLUB ADDRESS:
3275 County Road 100,
Carbondale, Colo. 81623

POLO HOTLINE: 970-710-1663

The exclusive Aspen Valley Polo Club is one of the nation's fastest-growing polo clubs. It offers polo in the summer for players and spectators. The Polo School is available to adults and juniors. It offers individual and group lessons for all levels and ages. For spectators there are great field side views for tournament action, indoor and outdoor arenas and also the Aspen Valley Polo Club Boutique. Everyone is welcome to watch polo in a relaxed atmosphere with complimentary food, refreshments and weekly asados. Admission and parking are free. For Polo On Demand price rates of group and private lessons, arena chukkers, grass chukkers and individualized "Polo Experience" packages call the polo hotline at 970-710-1663 or log onto www.aspenvalleypoloclub.com 

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