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High Alpine Cup Begins Friday At McClure River Ranch

CARBONDALE, Colo., August 4, 2022 —- Six teams will compete in the High Alpine Cup that gets under way Friday.

Preliminary round robin action for the sixth tournament of the summer season will be held at McClure River Ranch Fields 1 and 2.

In the first round robin at 10:30 a.m., Los Amigos, El Tiburon and White Claw will compete on Field 2. In the second round robin at noon, Brookshire, Tonkawa and Victory will play on Field 1. Winners of each round robin advance to Sunday‘s championship final. 

On Sunday, the Just For The Thrill Of It Cup, Just For The Fun Of It Cup and High Alpine Cup will keep fans entertained for 18 action-packed chukkers.

Sponsors and team rosters are:

El Tiburon (14): Collen Clark, Michael Payne, Pancho Bensadon, Torito Ruiz.
White Claw (10): Melissa Ganzi, Vinny Sangaline, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Juan Bollini.
Los Amigos (15): Paul Foster, Marc Ganzi, Nacho Figueras, Gonzalito Pieres.
Tonkawa (13): Jeff Hildebrand, Brian Boyd, Jason Crowder, Nacho Novillo Astrada.
Victory Polo (13): Kevin Schmeits, Grant Gant, Nic Roldan, Alex Gooding.
Brookshire (14): Scott Wood, Stewart Armstrong, Tomacho Pieres, Sugar Erskine.


Michael Payne and Collen Clark


The winner of last year‘s High Alpine Cup was Santa Rita (Alejandra Foster, Lauren Sherry, Tomacho Pieres, Alejandro Novillo Astrada) with an 8-5 victory over Victory Polo (Kevin Schmeits, Vinny Sangaline, Nic Roldan, Horacio Heguy). Astrada was MVP.

The High Alpine Cup is named after a Snowmass ski area/lift and legacy of Gwyn’s, a longtime Snowmass favorite located mid-mountain where diners experience some of the tradition and favorites from years past, in addition to a newly-envisioned take on mountain dining. 

Aspen Valley Polo Club kicked off its ninth season five weeks ago. In the season-opener Los Amigos (Paul Foster, Marc Ganzi, Gonzalito Pieres, Tomacho Pieres) won the Independence Cup with a round robin victory over Casablanca (Alejandra Foster, Grant Ganzi, Torito Ruiz, Nic Roldan) and NetJets (Melissa Ganzi, Nacho Figueras, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Juan Bollini).

Brookshire (Scott Wood, Jason Crowder, Nic Roldan, Juan Bollini) won its club debut in the ChukkerTV Cup with an 11-7 win over Los Amigos (Paul Foster, Vinny Sangaline, Gonzalito Pieres, Nacho Figueras). McClure River Ranch (Marc Ganzi, Jason Crowder, Pancho Bensadon, Stewart Armstrong) won the Craig Sakin Memorial with a 9-8 victory over Santa Rita (Melissa Ganzi, Vinny Sangaline, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Juan Bollini). 


Jeff Hildebrand and Marc Ganzi

Brookshire (Scott Wood, Ale Poma, Nacho Figueras, Torito Ruiz) won its second tournament of the season in the Basalt Handicap ) with a 12-7 win over Mountain Chevrolet (Michael Payne, Stewart Armstrong, Nic Roldan, Alex Gooding). Last weekend, Tonkawa (Jeff Hildebrand, Nic Roldan, Grant Ganzi, Blas Bensadon) won the Emma Challenge with an 11-8 victory over defending champion Los Amigos(Paul Foster, Vinny Sangaline, Nacho Figueras, Tomacho Pieres). 

The world‘s destination spot for summer polo has attracted some of the world‘s top players, sponsors and world-class horses.


Alejandra Foster

With the majestic 12,965-foot summit of Mount Sopris as a backdrop under a bright summer sky, polo has returned to the valley July through September with a record thirteen tournaments.

Other summer tournaments are the Mount Sopris Cup, Rocky Mountain Open, Carbondale Classic, Triple Crown of Polo-Aspen, Silver Queen Invitational, Maroon Bells Cup and Ute Challenge.

The highlight of the season is the Aug. 28th Summer Polo Benefit for the Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation. Last year‘s event raised more than $500,000 after a year‘s hiatus because of the pandemic. It is the club‘s summer marquis event and one of the city‘s most anticipated social summer events.

Wellington, Fla.-based ChukkerTV will live stream the entire 2022 polo season Mountain Standard Time with announcer Dale Schwetz calling the action.

Last summer Aspen Valley Polo Club finished a successful and historic season in club and Rocky Mountain Circuit history and hopes to top that this season. 


Gonzalito Pieres

The 2021 tournament champions were: Independence Cup, La Karina (Sugar Erskine, Brian Boyd, Marc Ganzi, Nic Roldan); ChukkerTV Challenge, NetJets (Michael Payne, Alex Gooding, Sugar Erskine, Nacho Figueras); Craig Sakin Memorial, Casablanca (Lauren Sherry, Alex Gooding, Torito Ruiz, Grant Ganzi); Basalt Handicap Cup, Tonkawa (Jeff Hildebrand, Grant Ganzi, Torito Ruiz, Jimmy Seward); Emma Challenge, Rancho Los Amigos (Paul Foster, Juan Bollini, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Gussie Busch); High Alpine Cup, Santa Rita (Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Alejandra Foster, Lauren Sherry, Tomacho Pieres); Mount Sopris Cup, NetJets (Juan Bollini, Gussie Busch, Govinda Quish, Pablo Spinacci); Rocky Mountain Open, Casablanca (Marc Ganzi, Grant Ganzi, Gonzalito Pieres, Torito Ruiz); Carbondale Classic, White Claw (Waqaas Al-Siddiq, Vinny Sangaline, Gonzalito Pieres, Nacho Badiola); WPL Triple Crown of Polo-Aspen, Tonkawa (Marc Ganzi, Jeff Hildebrand, Gonzalito Pieres, Juan Bollini); and Silver Queen Invitational, NetJets (Brian Boyd, Juan Bollini, Nacho Figueras, Pablo Spinacci).

Since Marc and Melissa Ganzi resurrected the club and polo in 2014, polo has increased in popularity in Aspen and surrounding cities and is the epicenter for polo in the valley. The club‘s offerings include various weekly grass and arena tournaments, Arena & Asado Nights, Kidz Polo, Gymkhana, Kidz Wheely 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 club tournaments on more than six world-class fields. There are also indoor and outdoor polo arenas.

Aspen was founded as a silver mining town in the 1800s and was named for the abundance of aspen trees growing in the area and famous for their tall, thin trunks and golden leaves. Conde Nast Traveler‘s Reader‘s Choice Awards recognized Aspen as the No. 1 Small City in the U.S.


Sugar Erskine and Juan Bollini

The Polo School for all ages and ability levels operates in Carbondale July through September. For more information on tournaments or Polo School contact Director of Operations Juan Bollini at 561-346-1099 or club manager Cale Newman at 561-876-2930.

Aspen Valley Polo Club caters to men, women and youth polo players at all levels. Its‘ expert staff can customize a complete playing experience including horses, pros and certified umpires in addition to lessons and practice sessions as part of its‘ Polo On Demand program.

The family-friendly club welcomes spectators. All matches, food and refreshments are free and open to the public.

When not playing or watching polo, there‘s all kinds of outdoor activities in a true adventurer‘s playground including hiking, mountain biking, paddle boarding, water rafting, swimming, fly fishing and golf.

By Sharon Robb
Photos by Candace Ferreira



2022 High Alpine Cup Schedule

Friday 8/5
10:30am Los Amigos vs El Tiburon vs White Claw
McClure River Ranch field 2

12pm Brookshire vs Tonkawa vs Victory 
McClure River Ranch field 1

Saturday 8/6
10am Just For The Love Of It Cup
WPL vs Santa Rita

11am Gymkhana & Kidz Polo

Sunday 8/7
Just For The Thrill Of It Cup
Just For The Fun Of It Cup

The Emma Challenge Cup Final

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