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Santa Rita Takes High Alpine Cup; MVP Alejandro Novillo Astrada Catamount Wins Ute Challenge

By: Rebecca Baldridge
Photos by: Nick Tininenko for ChukkerTV

CARBONDALE, CO, August 9, 2021— Santa Rita defeated Victory Polo by 8-5 to win the High Alpine Cup while Catamount prevailed over Tonkawa by 9-6 to claim victory in the Ute Challenge.

In the feature tournament of the week, The High Alpine Challenge final, saw Santa Rita (Alejandra Foster, Lauren Sherry, Tomacho Pieres, and Alejandro Novillo Astrada) take on Victory Polo (Kevin Schmeitz, Vinny Sangaline, Nic Roldan, and Horacio Heguy).

Tomato Pieres reaches to hook Horacio Heguy.

Nic Roldan started the scoring at 3:17, picking up the ball on a pass from Vinny Sangaline inside the 30-yard line. Play continued back and forth until Alejandro Novillo Astrada made a spectacular pass to Alejandra Foster, who took the ball just inside the 40-yard line and put it through the posts to score with one minute left on the clock. Novillo Astrada continued to work in sync with Foster in the second period, and she scored again less than a minute into play. Vinny Sangaline retaliated with a goal, but Foster ended the chukker with a perfect Penalty 2 conversion to put Santa Rita ahead at 3-2. Horacio Heguy tied up the score at 3-all, but Foster converted another Penalty 2 to end the half at 4-3 for Santa Rita.

MVP Alejandro Novillo Astrada rides off opponent Vinny Sangaline.

The second half began with Nic Roldan breaking his mallet less than 30 seconds in. Sangaline tied the score up again at 4-4 while Victory Polo failed to get on the board. Tomacho Pieres contributed back-to-back goals in the fifth period, picking up another spectacular pass from Novillo Astrada in the goal mouth at 4:22. In another brilliant play, Novillo Astrada stole the ball away from Roldan and sent it on to Pieres for his second goal. A whistle on a Penalty 6 saw Roldan make a spectacular long shot, all the more impressive since he was playing his eleventh chukker of the day. 

Vinny Sangaline takes his shot to goal with Lauren Sherry closely defending.

Going into the final chukker, Santa Rita was ahead by a goal. Their strong defense kept Victory away from the posts, while Novillo Astrada lobbed a powerful shot over the uprights on a Penalty 6. Alejandra Foster scored her fifth goal of the day, working perfectly in concert with Novillo Astrada, and Santa Rita took the title with an 8-5 win. Alejandro Novillo Astrada was named MVP, while Alejandra Foster took the honors as the high scoring player.

MVP Alejandro Novillo Astrada with Delfina Blaquier.

Earlier in the day Catamount (Scott Devon, Grant Ganzi, Nic Roldan, and Juan Bollini) met Tonkawa (Jeff Hildebrand, Jimmy Seward, Gonzalito Pieres, and Stewart Armstrong)  to vie for the title in the Ute Challenge.

While Tonkawa thwarted several plays by Catamount in the first chukker, they were unable to make it onto the board. Just over the two-minute mark, Catamount’s Grant Ganzi scored the first goal of the day. Neither team scored from the field in the second period, while Ganzi converted a Penalty 3 and Gonzalito Pieres put Tonkawa’s first goal on the board with a Penalty 4. Scoring continued on penalties in the third chukker, with Ganzi and Pieres each contributing again from the penalty line. However, a goal from Jeff Hildebrand saw Tonkawa gaining ground and the half ended 4-3 with Catamount holding a narrow lead.

Grant Ganzi chases the ball with Gonzalito Pieres attempting a ride off.

Ganzi started the scoring after the half, again on a Penalty 2, with Nic Roldan adding a goal from the field. With just over a minute left to play. Pieres made a long pass to Jimmy Seward only to have the ball stolen away by Roldan. His shot on goal stopped. just short of the posts, allowing Seward to swoop back in and put the ball through for Tonkawa. The period ended with Catamount back in the lead by 2, at 6-4. Two minutes into the pentultimate chukker, Stewart Armstrong passed the ball to Pieres, who took it through the posts for Tonkawa’s only goal. Catamount added another two goals to the board, with Scott Devon and Ganzi scoring to end the period 8-5 for Catamount.

Gonzalito Pieres of Tonkawa hooks Catamount‘s Scott Devon.

In the final chukker, Jeff Hildebrand converted a Penalty 2 with five minutes left on the clock. With three and half minutes of play left, Roldan made an impressive steal and rocketed toward the goal, with Pieres in close pursuit. Roldan took the ball through to take the score up to 9-6. The chukker played out with neither team able to score again, and Catamount won 9-6. Nic Roldan was named MVP, and Nothing Hidden, played by Jeff Hildebrand in the third chukker, was named Best Playing Pony.

The Ute Challenge MVP award presented to Nic Roldan by Netjets representative Lindsay Fausnaugh.

In the Ute Challenge subsidiary match Audi (Marc Ganzi, Alejandro Poma, Nacho Badiola, and Toro Ruiz) met La Karina (Gussie Busch, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Tomacho Pieres, and Brian Boyd. Audi dominated the field in the first chukker. Marc Ganzi started the scoring on a Penalty 2, with Toro Ruiz and Nacho Badiola contributing two more goals. La Karina roared back in the second chukker with three goals, while Nacho Badiola scored the only goal for Audi. Ganzi and Gussie Busch each scored in the third period to end the half at 5-4 for Audi.

2021 Ute Challenge Winners Catamount‘s Juan Bollini, Nic Roldan, Terri Devon, Grant Ganzi, Scott Devon, and Netjet‘s Lindsay Fausnaugh.

The tables turned as the second half began, with Tomas Pieres and Alejandro Novillo Astrada found the posts while Audi was frustrated. La Karina took a 6-5 lead, increasing it to 8-7 in the fifth chukker. Audi made a strong effort in the final chukker, keeping La Karina off the board while Poma converted a Penalty 2 and Badiola scored to end the match victorious, with Audi winning 9-8.

In the High Alpine Just for the Love  It subsidiary, NetJets (Michael Payne, Alex Gooding, Pablo Spinacci, and Nacho Figueras) met Rancho Los Amigos (Nacho Novillo Astrada, Sugar Erskine, Govinda Quish, and Paul Foster). Alex Gooding scored for NetJets in the first chukker, while Rancho Los Amigos couldn’t get on the board. The situation was reversed in the second chukker, with Paul Foster scoring for Los Amigos while NetJets was frustrated. Gooding scored two goals in the third chukker, with Los Amigos again failing to get on goal, and the half ended 3-1.

Fans enjoyed Kidz Wheelie polo after the days matches.

It was NetJet’s turn to be frustrated again in the fourth period, while Paul Foster found the posts to bring the score to 3-2. Each team scored a goal in the pentultimate chukker (Govinda Quish for Los Amigos and Michael Payne for NetJets), with Audi maintaining their one goal lead at 4-3. Payne scored the only goal in the final chukker, giving Audi a 5-3 win over NetJets.



2021 Aspen Valley Summer Polo Series

Rocky Mountain Open 8/9-8/14
Mount Sopris Cup 8/11-8/15
The Carbondale Classic 8/18-8/22
World Polo League Triple Crown of Polo 8/25-8/28

Arena Tournaments & Asado – Tuesday Evenings
Kidz Uni-Wheel games during select tournament halftimes

Chukkers, Champagne, & Caviar
to benefit Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation
Sunday August 22, 2021

Visit for more details.
Games live-streamed on

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