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Tonkawa Victorious in Basalt Handicap; Toro Ruiz Named Most Valuable Player

By: Rebecca Baldridge
Photos by: Nick Tininenko for ChukkerTV

CARBONDALE, CO, July 26, 2020 — Tonkawa defeated La Karina by a score of 13-10 to capture the Basalt Handicap title. In the Just For The Fun Of It subsidiary, Aspen Valley Polo Club defeated McClure River Ranch in overtime by 6-5.

Tonkawa (Jeff Hildebrand, Jimmy Seward, Toro Ruiz, and Grant Ganzi) and La Karina (Brian Boyd, Gussie Busch, Nic Roldan, and Marc Ganzi) took to the field in Sunday’s final match of the Basalt Handicap.

Team sponsors Brian Boyd and Jeff Hildebrand go neck and neck down the field.

La Karina dominated play in the first chukker, with Nic Roldan taking possession from the bowl-in. He slammed the ball downfield to Brian Boyd, who sent it on to Marc Ganzi to put the first goal on the board at 5:33. Roldan came out of the next bowl-in with control of the ball again, sending a long shot for Brian Boyd to pick up and put through the posts despite Jeff Hildebrand’s best efforts to ride him off the line. As the clock ticked under four minutes, Tonkawa had yet to take control of the ball for an offensive play, and Gussie Busch took his turn at the goal after working the ball downfield. With just a minute left on the clock, Roldan fired off another long shot to Marc Ganzi, who picked up the pass and carried the ball through the uprights. The chukker ended 4-0 in favor of La Karina.

Grant Ganzi shoots a long near side neck shot with Brian Boyd on the defense.

At the beginning of the second chukker, it was clear that Tonkawa needed to start winning throw-ins. Although Marc Ganzi scored the first goal in the second chukker, taking La Karina up to 5, Tonkawa began to gain some ground. At 2:48, Toro Ruiz scored his team’s first goal on a Penalty 6, and a minute later he put another on the board. With 46 seconds left on the clock, Grant Ganzi made a spectacular shot to cut La Karina’s advantage to 2 goals. The period ended 5-3. Tonkawa put the first goal on the board in Chukker 3, but a goal from Busch and a Penalty 2 conversion by Marc Ganzi saw La Karina hang on to the advantage and end the half leading by 7-4.

Torito Ruiz gains possession with teammate Jeff Hildebrand behind riding off Gussie Busch and Marc Ganzi.

La Karina gave away much of their advantage through fouls in the fourth chukker, with Marc Ganzi, Jeff Hildebrand, and Toro Ruiz all scoring on penalties. Marc Ganzi also scored on a penalty, while Gussie Busch put the ball through from the field with 1:28 left on the clock. The players returned to the center for the throw-in and Ruiz jumped on the ball, moving it downfield and slamming a long shot to goal to end the period closing in on La Karina at 9-8. In the fifth period, Ruiz tied the score at 9-9 but a Penalty 3 conversion by Marc Ganzi put La Karina back in the lead. Ruiz scored another goal from the field and the period ended 10-all.

MVP Torito Ruiz with Netjets representatives. 

The final chukker saw Tonkawa capitalize on their momentum while La Karina seemed to run out of gas. Tonkawa kept the team in pink off the board, while goals from Hildebrand and Ruiz, plus a penalty conversion by Marc Ganzi, saw Tonkawa seize the title with a 13-10 victory over La Karina. Toro Ruiz was named the Most Valuable Player while Debutante, a 16-year-old mare owned by Jeff Hildebrand, took Best Playing Pony honors.

Best Playing Pony Debutante owned and ridden by Jeff Hildebrand gets a well deserved treat.

In the Just for the Fun of It subsidiary match, Aspen Valley Polo Club (Alejandro Poma, Nacho Badiola, Tomas Pieres, and Stewart Armstrong) defeated McClure River Ranch (Lauren Sherry, Govinda Quish, Sugar Erskine, and Pablo Spinacci) by a score of 6-5 in overtime.

Aspen Valley took the lead early on and held onto it through the first half. McClure River Ranch couldn’t get past the Aspen Valley defense to score in the first chukker, while a goal from Nacho Badiola and a Penalty 2 conversion from Alejandro Poma ended the chukker 2-0. Neither team was able to get on the board during the pitched battle of the second chukker, but Govinda Quish scored consecutive goals to ties thing up at 2-2. A final goal from Poma ended the half with Aspen Valley leading 3-2.

Ale Pome runs the ball down the field.

The teams played an evenly matched game through the second half, with each chukker ending in a tie. In the fourth chukker, Quish put the ball through for a third time, tying the score at 3-all, while holding off Aspen Valley and keeping them away from the goal. In the fifth chukker, Quish converted a Penalty 2, but Stewart Armstrong found the posts to tie the match up again at 4-all. A goal from Tomas Pieres in the final chukker put Aspen Valley ahead, but a Penalty 2 conversion from Quish ended the chukker at 5-all and sent the game into overtime. After two and half minutes of play, Nacho Badiola scored the winning goal for Aspen Valley, ending the match at 6-5. Govinda Quish was the high-scoring player, with five goals to his credit.

McClure River Ranch‘s Sugar Erskine with the long reach for the ball.

In the round robin Elk Mountain Challenge final, Victory Polo (Ryan Cronin, Kevin Schmeits, Gonzalito Pieres, and Juan Bollini) defeated Rancho Los Amigos (Paul Foster, Vinny Sangaline, Nacho Figueras, and Alejandro Novillo Astrada) and Sopris Mountain Ranch (Alejandra Foster, Larry Austin, Horacio Heguy, and Nacho Novillo Astrada).

Vinny Sangaline and Horacio Heguy have all eyes on the ball.

With scores carrying over from Friday’s play, Victory Polo was in the lead. The first match saw Rancho Los Amigos take on Sopris Mountain Ranch. The game ended in an 11-11 tie, with Alejandra Foster leading the scoring with four goals. In the second match, Rancho Los Amigos remained on the field to face off against Victory Polo. Victory Polo had a strong advantage going into the game, leading by 8-4. Although Los Amigos scored six goals, Victory Polo won the day with a final score of 11-10.

Larry Austin is first to the ball to gain possession, teammate Alejandra Foster is close behind to offer support.

In the final game, Victory Polo took on Sopris Mountain Ranch and went into this match with an advantage as well, leading by 6-4. Play was evenly matched throughout but Sopris Mountain was unable to erode Victory Polo’s advantage and went down 7-9. Victory Polo took the title in the Elk Mountain Challenge with a cumulative score of +3, while Rancho Los Amigos was in second place at -1 and Sopris Mountain followed with -2.


2021 Aspen Valley Summer Polo Series

Emma Challenge Cup 7/28-8/1

High Alpine Cup 8/4-8/8
Rocky Mountain Open 8/1-8/14
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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