By: Rebecca Baldridge
Photos by: Nick Tininenko for ChukkerTV
Carbondale, CO, July 12, 2021— NetJets defeated Victory Polo by 7-5 to take the ChukkerTV Challenge Cup; Tonkawa beat White Claw 6-5 in the Just for the Love of It subsidiary, while McClure River Ranch bested Rancho Los Amigos by 7-4 in the Just for the Fun of It subsidiary.
The final match of the ChukkerTV Challenge Cup saw NetJets (Michael Payne, Alex Gooding, Sugar Erskine, and Nacho Figueras) take on Victory Polo (Alejandra Foster, Kevin Schmeits, Grant Ganzi, and Nic Roldan).
Alejandra Foster attempts the steal from Alex Gooding.
NetJets’ Alex Gooding kicked off the scoring action with a beautiful goal at the 4-minute mark. While NetJets failed to score again, they succeeded in keeping Victory off the goal. The second chukker began with NetJets leading 1-0. Two minutes into the period, Nacho Figueras took the ball downfield, leaving it for Michael Payne to finish off. NetJets, with a slightly more balanced team, continued to use all four players to good effect. Figueras picked up the ball and sent it to Sugar Erskine, who got out in front to take the ball up the field on the nearside. Switching to the offside, Erskine stayed in front to put the ball through and end the chukker 3-0. At the beginning of the third period, it was clear that Nic Roldan needed to take command, winning throw-ins and scoring goals to counter the more balanced NetJets’ team. He didn’t disappoint, coming out of the throw-in and running to goal. Grant Ganzi took the ball on a pass from Roldan, evaded an attempted hook by Figueras, and put the ball through with 4:41 on the clock. Michael Payne scored for NetJets, ending the half with NetJets leading by 4- 2.
Grant Ganzi rides off opponent Michael Payne.
NetJets continued to dominate in the fourth chukker, and Figueras found the goal with 3:38 on the clock. Alex Gooding, who was consistently contributing midfield and playing strong defense throughout the match, took the ball from Erskine and scored at 1:14. NetJets continued to play a tough defense and the period ended 6-2, with Victory unable to score during the chukker. In the pentultimate period, neither team was able to score until Grant Ganzi broke Victory’s dry spell to end the period 6-3. A minute and a half into the final chukker, Michael Payne put NetJets ahead by another goal then, at the four-minute mark, Ganzi cut NetJets’ lead to 7-4. Despite a strong effort by Victory and a final goal by Roldan, NetJets captured the ChukkerTV Challenge by 7-5.
Michael Payne took MVP honors, while ManRay, ridden by Nacho Figueras in the fifth chukker, was named Best Playing Pony.
MVP Michael Payne with awards presenter Cici Armstrong.
In the Just for the Love of It Cup, White Claw (Melissa Ganzi, Carolyn Likas, Alejandro Novillo Astrada and Juan Bollini, with Vinny Sangaline taking over for Likas in the second half) met Tonkawa (Jeff Hildebrand, Brian Boyd, Nacho Novillo Astrada, and Jimmy Seward.
Alejandro Novillo Astrada drew first blood to score for White Claw, but the team couldn’t get past Tonkawa to find the goal again in the first chukker. Jeff Hildebrand and Jimmy Seward each put one on the board for Tonkawa, which ended the chukker 2-1. However, those were the only two goals Tonkawa was able to score in the first half. Alejandro Novillo Astrada scored again for White Claw in the second chukker, but that was it for goals in the first half of the match. Neither team was able to get on the board in a frustrating third period, and the half ended in a 2-2 tie.
Tonkawa‘s Jeff Hildebrand goes for the long ball hit.
Vinny Sangaline replaced Carolyn Likas in the second half. Both teams returned with fires stoked to get goals on the board. Melissa Ganzi did the honors for White Claw, scoring the first goal of the half. Nacho Novillo Astrada answered by putting the ball the posts, only to be followed by a counter from brother Alejandro. White Claw ended the period ahead by 1, at 4-3. Tonkawa played a stronger defense in the pentultimate chukker and kept White Claw from scoring while Nacho Novillo Astrada racked up another goal for Tonkawa. In the final chukker, goals from Jimmy Seward and Brian Boyd put Tonkawa ahead by two, at 6-4. A final goal from Alejandro Novillo Astrada ended the match with Tonkawa beating White Claw 6-5.
Brian Boyd out ahead of the pack.
In the Just for the Fun of It Cup, Rancho Los Amigos (Paul Foster, Govinda Quish, Toro Ruiz, and Pablo Spinacci) took on McClure River Ranch (Tomas Pieres, Nacho Badiola, Marc Ganzi, and Stewart Armstrong).
Pablo Spinacci closely defends Stewart Armstrong.
It was several minutes into play before Nacho Badiola score the first goal of the day for McClure River Ranch. It took more than four minutes before Toro Ruiz launched the ball downfield to score the first goal for Rancho Los Amigos. The period ended in a 1-1 tie. McClure River Ranch dominated the second chukker, shutting Rancho Los Amigos out while Stewart Armstrong, Nacho Badiola, and Marc Ganzi all put goals on the board for McClure River Ranch. The tables were turned in the third chukker, with McClure River Ranch unable to get on the board. Toro Ruiz scored his second goal of the day and the half ended with McClure River Ranch leading 4-2.
Tomato Pieres reaches for the near side back shot.
The second half started with both teams playing hard, but neither was able to put the ball through the posts, leaving the score at 4-2. Marc Ganzi knocked in back-to-back goals in the fifth chukker, and McClure River Ranch was able to maintain their defense and keep Rancho Los Amigos off the goal. The team in red came back to life in the final chukker, with Pablo Spinacci scoring two goals for Rancho Los Amigos, bringing the score up to 4-6. A final goal by Badiola ended the match in a 7-4 victory for McClure River Ranch. Stewart Armstrong was named MVP.
2021 Aspen Valley Summer Polo Series
Craig Sakin Memorial 7/14-7/18
Basalt Handicap 7/21-7/25
Emma Challenge Cup 7/28-8/1
High Alpine Cup 8/4-8/8
Rocky Mountain Open 8/1-8/14
Mount Sopris Cup 8/11-8/15
The Carbondale Classic 8/18-8/22
World Polo League Triple Crown of Polo 8/25-8/28
Arena Tournaments & Asado – Tuesday Evenings
Kidz Uni-Wheel games during select tournament halftimes
Chukkers, Champagne, & Caviar
to benefit Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation
Sunday August 22, 2021
Visit www.aspenvalleypoloclub.com for more details.