Carbondale, Colo. – Sept. 4, 2018 – First-year team Mandarina won the biggest prize of the summer polo season Sunday at Aspen Valley Polo Club. The foursome of Sarah Magness, Melissa Ganzi, Alejandro Novillo Astrada and Juan Bollini won the coveted Triple Crown of Polo with a thrilling 7-6 victory over Woodrow Farm (Leigh Brecheen, Marc Ganzi, Nic Roldan, Tano Vial) in the season finale. Argentine 8-goaler Alejandro Novillo Astrada was named Most Valuable Player. Longtime player and U.S. Polo Association Secretary Stewart Armstrong was selected Season Most Valuable Player for with his consistent play and strong defense during the summer season.
Music, a 5-year-old thoroughbred dark bay mare, was chosen Best Playing Pony. She was played by Alejandro Novillo Astrada, trained by Tiana Smicklas and owned by Wellington-based Santa Rita Polo Farm. Basalt, a 6-year-old dark bay mare (by Quarzo out of Shekankipper), played by Marc Ganzi and owned by Santa Rita Polo Farm, was selected the American Polo Horse Association best registered horse of the game. The APHA was created in 2006 by Hall of Famer Sunny Hale to recognize polo ponies in America and encourages events that showcase them and hard-working dedication of grooms.
In the championship final, Melissa Ganzi led Mandarina with a game-high five goals including the game-winner. Magness and Novillo Astrada each had one goal. For Woodrow Farm, Brecheen and Roldan each had two goals and Ganzi and Vial each had one. After a 3-3 halftime score, Roldan scored the only goal in the fourth chukker to give Woodrow Farm a 4-3 lead. Mandarina found its offense in the fifth chukker outscoring Woodrow Farm, 3-0, to take a 6-4 lead going into the final chukker. Ganzi’s final goal in the sixth gave them a 7-4 advantage. Woodrow Farm tried to rally with two goals but ran out of time.
The Triple Crown of Polo was the tenth and final outdoor grass tournament and 13th overall of the most successful summer polo season at AVPC. This is the first season players are competing for the coveted Triple Crown of Polo. The Triple Crown of Polo Denver was won by Scone (David Paradice, Agustin Nero, Agusto Gomez Romero, Guillermo Terrera). The Triple Crown of Polo Palm Beach is set for Grand Champions Polo Club on Nov. 14.
Designed by Tiffany & Co., the magnificent trophy is comprised of three separate trophies that fit perfectly together to create an entire polo scene that is breathtaking in sterling silver. The winning teams’ names will be inscribed on the trophy and added to an impressive list of teams that feature several top players including Sebastian Merlos, Mike Azzaro, Tommy Biddle, Adam Snow, Nic Roldan, Matias Magrini, Jeff Hall, Mariano Gonzalez, Michel Dorignac and Kris Kampsen.
The Triple Crown of Polo, an ESPN2 television series, was created in 2005 by David McLane, known for Pro Beach Hockey, Women of Wrestling and Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, to help promote polo in the U.S. The spectacular trophy was created for the event that had stops in Sarasota, Dallas, Santa Barbara and Aiken during its heyday.
All photos by Chiarofoto