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Piocho Ranch Defends Title To Win Independence Cup Season-Opener; Nacho Figueras MVP

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Piocho Ranch Defends Title To Win Independence Cup Season-Opener; Nacho Figueras MVP
CARBONDALE, Colo., July 4, 2019---Piocho Ranch defended its title Wednesday in the final of the Independence Cup.

Winning team Piocho Ranch's Tom Barrack,  Nacho Figueras,  Salvador Ulloa and Gabriel Gracida.


In front of a good local crowd at Aspen Valley Polo Club's new Field One at McClure Ranch, Piocho Ranch (Gabriel Gracida, 4, Salvador Ulloa, 6, Nacho Figueras, 6, Tom Barrack, 0) won the nine-chukker round-robin against Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, 0, Carlitos Gracida, 4, Brian Boyd, 0, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 8) and Los Amigos Red (Paul Foster, 0, Grant Ganzi, 3, Nacho Novillo Astrada, 8, Stewart Armstrong, 3).

Salvador Ulloa of Piocho Ranch avoids a hook from Alejandro Novillo Astrada of Flexjet.

In the opening three chukkers, Piocho Ranch and Flexjet tied, 5-5. In the second match, Flexjet edged Los Amigos Red, 4-3. In the third and decisive game, Piocho Ranch defeated Los Amigos Red, 4-2, to clinch the win for Piocho Ranch on net goals.

MVP Nacho Figueras of Piocho Ranch zeroes in on the ball with Alejandro Novillo Astrada of Flexjet defending.

Figueras, known as the sport's ambassador, was selected Most Valuable Player for the second consecutive year. He finished with four goals in six chukkers including a 130-yarder. "I got lucky," Figueras said.

Macumba, a 13-year-old gray mare, played and owned by Brian Boyd, was chosen the American Polo Horse Association Best Playing Pony. Playing her in the third chukker against Los Amigos Red, Boyd scored his coast-to-coast goal for a 4-2 lead at the 4:23 mark which turned out to be the winning goal.

Alejandro Novillo Astrada of Flexjet reaches for the near side shot with this brother Nacho Novillo Astrada of Los Amigos Red defending.

Alejandro Novilla Astrada and Ulloa, making his Aspen debut, shared leading scoring honors with Figueras, each with four goals. Melissa Ganzi had three goals.

In the third and decisive game, Piocho Ranch led from start-to-finish jumping out to a 2-0 lead early in the opening chukker with goals from Gracida and Figueras. Piocho Ranch pulled away for a 3-1 lead after the second chukker and led 4-1 early in the third chukker.

Paul Foster of Los Amigos Red keeps his eye on the ball.

It was the second consecutive year Piocho Ranch won the season-opener. Last year Piocho Ranch (Riley Ganzi, Carlitos Gracida, Nacho Figueras, Tom Barrack) won with an 8-6 victory over Aspen Valley Polo Club (Melissa Ganzi, Marc Ganzi, Pablo Dorignac, Juan Bollini).

"I am feeling amazing," Barrack said. "What Paul Foster and the Ganzis have done out here is just stunning. 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."

Carlitos Gracida of Flexjet gets ready to hit with Salvador Ulloa of Piocho Ranch defending.

The victory snapped Carlitos Gracida's three-year win streak in the Independence Cup. The son of legendary Hall of Famer and former 10-goaler Carlos Gracida, won the Independence Cup with Piocho Ranch in 2018, La Karina in 2017 and Flexjet in 2016. 

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.

American Polo Horse Association BPP Macumba, a 13-year-old mare owned and played by Brian Boyd of Flexjet.

Coming off its most successful summer season, Aspen Valley Polo Club has lined  up a star-studded roster of players for the summer to compete with and against patrons and amateur players. 

The club, with an additional two new polo fields this season, is hosting eleven grass tournaments and three arena tournaments in what is expected to be its most successful season.

Awards presenter Cece Armstrong with Most Valuable Player Nacho Figueras.

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, will be coupled with the annual Chukkers, Champagne & Caviar  fundraiser. 

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.

Melissa Ganzi of Flexjet begins a goal run in the first chukker with Nacho Figueras of Piocho Ranch defending.

Ticket packages range from $250 (Early Bird general admission single ticket if purchased before July 11) to $25,000 Luxury VIP Gold (table for 12) and $100,000 Luxury VIP Diamond package (30 guests). The $50,000 Luxury VIP Platinum (20 guests) has already sold out. For more information call 970-544-1302.

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.

Alejandro Novillo Astrada of Flexjet gets past Salvador Ulloa of Piocho Ranch.

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, Gladiator Tuesdays and Asado, Kids 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.

Grant Ganzi of Los Amigos Red reaches for the back shot away from defender Brian Boyd of Flexjet.

The Ganzis are avid players and patrons and "have created a polo paradise" according to Barrack. Players, sponsors, community leaders and fans share Barrack's sentiments.

Flag bearer Macy Wilson carries the colors during the pre-game ceremony.

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 and Aspen Valley Polo Club Boutique.

Awards table for the Independence Cup.
Photos by Aspen Valley Polo Club

2019 Aspen Valley Polo Club Summer Polo Series

July
Craig Sakin Memorial 7/5 - 7/7
 USPA North American Cup Draw 7/12
ChukkerTV Challenge Cup 7/12 - 7/14
USPA North American Cup 7/14 - 7/20
Basalt Handicap 7/19 - 7/21
USPA Silver Cup Draw 7/20
 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.


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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