Aspen Valley Polo Club, the nation’s fastest growing USPA polo club, is enjoying 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. Owners Marc and Melissa “have put new life into polo,” according to Alex Gooding. “This is the place to be in the summer,” added Brian Boyd.
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. 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.
In addition to hosting the five-team Mount Sopris Cup and two-team Aloha Cup, the highlight of the week will be the Chukkers, Champagne & Caviar Aspen Valley Hospital Fundraiser on Sunday, August 13th. The renowned hospital is the first Colorado hospital to be selected as a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network after passing a rigorous review process based on quality, service and operational criteria. The Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation, now entering its fifth year, is a non-profit solely focused on encouraging philanthropic support for the current and future needs of Aspen Valley Hospital. During the fundraiser, there will be live and silent auctions, pony rides, kids activities, various vendor tents and live aerial silks performance by Allie Azzaro.
Aspen Valley Polo Club owners Marc and Melissa Ganzi are members of the host committee that also includes Lexie and Robert Potamkin, Alex Halperin, Dr. Eric and Bari Stahl, Dale Hower, Dana and Michael Werner, Dawn Arnall, Regina Yunami and Dr. Les Fraser, Jan and John Sarpa, Jody Cooper, Julie and Dave Ressler, Kimberly Higgins, Lacy Frywald, Marilyn and Chuck Frias, Pam Alexander and Sally Sakin.
A familiar face, Guillermo “Billy” Steta, president of the Mexican Polo Federation, returns to Aspen Valley Polo Club to compete this week. He was a member of last year’s Steta Polo Team that won the Mount Sopris Cup with Brian Boyd, Nic Roldan and Carlitos Gracida. Steta, a frequent visitor to Aspen Valley Polo Club and its sister club Grand Champions in Wellington, Fla., is spearheading the drive to get polo into the Pan American Games, the first step expected to pave the way for the sport’s return to the Olympic Games. He also played a role in getting polo showcased in the 2018 Summer Youth Olympic Games, October 6-18 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Five teams will compete in the three-day Mount Sopris Cup that gets under way on Thursday with La Karina playing Travieso at 11 a.m. MST at Rose Spur Field.
The tournament continues on Friday with a round robin at 11 a.m. between Flexjet, Los Amigos Blue and Mexico. The winners of today’s and Friday’s games advance into Sunday’s final at 1 p.m. after the subsidiary round-robin game at 11 a.m. and live auction at 12:30 p.m.
On Saturday, the Aloha Cup featuring La Karina (Ailsa “Ace” Currier, Carlitos Gracida, Harrison Azzaro, TBA) and Travieso (Michael Calle, Will Jacobs, Juan Bollini, Melissa Ganzi), will showcase young up-and-coming players including Jacobs, a product of The Polo School at Grand Champions and Aspen Valley Polo Clubs.
Flexjet: Lauren Sherry, Alejandra Foster, Juan Bollini, Alejandro Novillo Astrada.
La Karina: Brian Boyd, Alex Gooding, Mike Azzaro, Stewart Armstrong.
Los Amigos Blue: Paul Foster, Gabriel Gracida, Pablo Dorignac, Lucas Lalor.
Mexico: Billy Steta, Grant Ganzi, Carlitos Gracida, Juancito Bollini.
Travieso: Teo Calle, Tony Calle, Nacho Novillo Astrada, Marc Ganzi.
By: Sharon Robb