Aspen Valley Polo Club won its second consecutive title at the sixth annual Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships at WestWorld of Scottsdale.
The team of Melissa Ganzi, Nic Roldan and Juancito Bollini won the coveted Molina Cup with a hard-fought 7-5 victory over Palm Beach Polo, making its debut in the six-team event. In the featured 3-on-3 polo match, the defending champions were led by Ganzi, who scored a game-high four goals. Ganzi and Roldan were members of last year’s winning team.
“It’s nice to come back and defend out title,” Roldan said. “It was a great win against a great team on a day where polo got a lot of exposure and made some new fans. This is such a great show they put on and I am happy to be a part of anything that helps the sport grow.” Roldan, the top-ranked American player rated at eight goals, was making his third appearance at the event.
Last year was the first time Aspen Valley Polo Club competed in the nation’s largest polo event. Palm Beach Polo’s Marc Ganzi, Ricky Cooper and Jason Crowder kept it close but could not find its offensive firepower on clutch plays. Added Cooper, Wales top player and polo ambassador, “They did a brilliant job of defending their title.”
Crowder was named Most Valuable Player. Carnival, ridden by Marc Ganzi and owned by Santa Rita Polo Farm, was named Best Playing Pony.
In addition to Palm Beach Polo, La Jolla Polo Team (Reuben Katz, Roberto Estudillo, Coky Molina) and Palm Springs Polo Team (Zinta Brauki, Jeffrey Rewald, Sterling Giannico) also made their debut. They joined returning teams Polo Azteca (Theo Wakefield, George Estrada Sr., George Estrada, Jr., Dan Faherty) and Scottsdale All-Stars (Andres Camacho, Scott Vargas, Danny Urness).
The event attracted more than a record crowd of 12,000. The biggest polo event in the United States is one of the most extravagant outdoor sports spectacles in Arizona. It is the most attended single-day polo event in North America. The popular event brings polo to the masses while providing a social backdrop for equestrian enthusiasts. While polo was the centerpiece of the event, there were several all-day events.
New attractions this year featured the first Sunset Polo Women’s Match and the Cultural Concert featuring a variety of music from opera to hip-hop. There was also a Canine Couture Show, ArtPolo Auction Pavilion, Phoenix Fashion Week showcasing the world’s longest catwalk fashion show, previews of the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction and Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, post-match after party and fireworks display.
Event founder and Scottsdale public relations executive Jason Rose, visiting with fans, players and sponsors for most of the day, was pleased with the event.
Aspen Valley Polo Club is one of the nation’s fastest growing polo clubs and annually hosts the World Snow Polo Championship (15-18 December) in addition to a full summer polo schedule featuring some of the world’s top players.
Photos © Aspen Valley Polo Club