Audi Wins Thriller, Captures WPL Triple Crown Of Polo In Season Finale

Carbondale, Colo. – September 9, 2019 – It may have taken two chukkers, but the World Polo League Triple Crown of Polo season-finale lived up to expectations Sunday at McClure River Ranch. Audi (Marc Ganzi, Mariano Gracida, Nic Roldan, Juancito Bollini) led Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, Salvador Ulloa, Nacho Novillo Astrada, Juan Bollini) from start-to-finish but Flexjet made them work for it in the final chukker.

WPL Triple Crown of Polo champion Audi's Mariano Gracida, Juancito Bollini, Nic Roldan and Marc Ganzi.
WPL Triple Crown of Polo champion Audi’s Mariano Gracida, Juancito Bollini, Nic Roldan and Marc Ganzi.

On a perfect day for polo, Audi held on for a thrilling 12-11 victory to win the coveted trophy and its second consecutive tournament of the summer polo season. Audi also won the Labor Day Challenge with Lauren Sherry, Salvador Ulloa, Roldan and Ganzi. Roldan, the highest rated American player at eight goals, had one of his best games of his career with his big scoring hits and relentless defense and was the unanimous choice for Most Valuable Player. The Aspen Valley Polo Club Best Playing Pony went to Tampa Glitter played by Mariano Gracida.

Salvador Ulloa of Flexjet follows his hit in front of a crowd of players.
Salvador Ulloa of Flexjet follows his hit in front of a crowd of players.

The American Polo Horse Association Best Playing Pony was Pitkin, played by Alejandro Novillo Astrada. 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.

“What a game today’s final was,” WPL Commissioner Dale Smicklas said. “It was everything we hoped it would be. There was a five-goal difference early in the game and we kept saying it didn’t mean much and the game ended up going down to the final seconds. It was a great game by both teams. It was a great way to wrap the season up. This is a magical place and magical experience. I couldn’t have enjoyed it more.”

Nic Roldan of Audi gets wrapped up with his mallet after hitting a neck shot downfield.
Nic Roldan of Audi gets wrapped up with his mallet after hitting a neck shot downfield.

Roldan scored a team-high five goals. Ganzi had three and Bollini added two goals. Audi also received two goals on handicap. For Flexjet, Novillo Astrada had a game-high eight goals. Melissa Ganzi had three goals including one in the sixth chukker. Audi, playing well on both ends of the field, jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the opening chukker and 6-2 advantage after two chukkers.

Alejandro Novillo Astrada attempts to hit the ball with Nic Roldan of Audi defending.
Alejandro Novillo Astrada attempts to hit the ball with Nic Roldan of Audi defending.

Flexjet started digging itself out of a hole behind Astrada’s three goals and trailed by three at the half, 8-5. Flexjet came within two, 9-7, when Roldan missed a hook on Melissa Ganzi, who scored her second goal of the game. Audi kept its composure and always had the lead but Flexjet made it interesting with 3:26 left in the game. With Audi leading, 12-9, Melissa Ganzi scored, Novillo Astrada scored on a 130-yarder and converted a 60-yard penalty shot to score three unanswered goals to trail, 12-11. With 29 seconds left, Flexjet missed one final scoring opportunity as time ran out.

The American Polo Horse Association Best Playing Pony Pitkin, played by Alejandro Novillo Astrada.
The American Polo Horse Association Best Playing Pony Pitkin, played by Alejandro Novillo Astrada.
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