United States Arena Handicap Tournament Begins Tuesday At Aspen Valley Polo ClubSix teams featuring some of the sport's top players will compete in the United States Arena Handicap Polo Championship this week at Aspen Valley Polo Club.By Sharon RobbIt will be the first time in several years that the tournament, which begins on Tuesday, will be played as a stand-alone event.
Also for the first time, USPA Polo Network and Wellington-based Chukker TV will both live stream the three-day tournament.
The annual event dates back to 1980 and is a national USPA tournament played at medium goal level. In the past, the tournament has been played as a subsidiary to the U.S. Open Arena Polo Championship at Country Farms Polo Club in Medford, N.Y.
Grant Ganzi and Juancito Bollini will play for Aspen Valley Polo Club.
"We are very excited to host the tournament," said Juan Bollini, Director of Polo Operations and one of 18 players in the field. "We are really looking forward to having great games and fun.
"We have a lot of good players competing. The level of polo is high. It's incredible. We have six really good balanced teams. It's anybody's tournament."
Two games are scheduled for Tuesday. Flexjet (1) plays Sopris Mountain Ranch (2) at 4:30 p.m. MST followed by Audi (5) playing La Karina White (4).
On Thursday, La Karina Green (3) will play the winner of the Flexjet-Sopris Mountain Ranch game at 11 a.m. MST. Aspen Valley Polo Club (6) plays the winner of the La Karina White-Audi game at noon. The championship final is Saturday at 11 a.m. MST.
The teams and rosters with the players' arena handicaps are:
Aspen Valley Polo Club: Grant Ganzi, 2; Juancito Bollini, 3; Pablo Dorignac, 7.
Audi: Marc Ganzi, 3; Nacho Novillo Astrada, 8T, Stewart Armstrong, 4.
Flexjet: Melissa Ganzi, 1; Juan Bollini, 7; Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 8.
La Karina Green: Brian Boyd, 2; Lucas Lalor, 6; Ramiro Cordero, 5.
La Karina White: Ailsa (Ace) Currier, A; Carlitos Gracida, 5; Mike Azzaro, 9.
Sopris Mountain Ranch: Santos Bollini, 2; Kris Kampsen, 9; Gabriel Gracida, 4.
Kampsen, rated at 9 goals in the arena, is one of the most experienced arena players in the field. In the U.S. Open Arena Polo Championship, he played for Cedar Croft Farms that won three consecutive titles (2013-2015) with the same team members, only the second team in tournament history to accomplish the feat. Kampsen played with Felipe Viana and Robert Ceparano.
Carlitos Gracida will play for La Karina White.
Hall of Famer Mike Azzaro, a former 10-goaler for thirteen years and winner of eight U.S. Open titles, is also rated at nine goals in arena polo. Argentine players and brothers Nacho Novillo Astrada and Alejandro Novillo Astrada, who makes his Aspen summer debut in the tournament, are both rated eight goals.
Last weekend defending champion NYC Polo (Sam Ramirez Jr., Tommy Biddle, Jared Sheldon) defended its title in the U.S. Open Arena Polo Championship with a 19-12 win over Blue Stone Farms (Guillaume Gimonet, MVP Guillermo Usandizaga, Alan Martinez/Daniel Scott) at Country Farms Polo Club in Medford, N.Y.
Part of the challenge of arena polo is the arena itself, a confined area of 150 feet by 300 feet.
The fast-paced, spectator-friendly four-chukker game features teams of three playing on a dirt/sand surface with a larger polo ball, more like a mini-soccer ball.
Aspen Valley Polo Club, the nation's fastest growing USPA polo club, is enjoying its busiestsummer polo season hosting 12 tournaments--eight grass and four arena.
Father and son Juan and Juancito Bollini and Lucas Lalor will compete.
The club has increased its membership and continues to grow and introduce polo throughout the valley.
The club annually 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 including the Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation.
The club offers 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.