By Sharon Robb
SCOTTSDALE, Arizona, November 13, 2018--Aspen Valley Polo Club made history again winning its fourth consecutive title at the recent eighth annual Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championship at WestWorld of Scottsdale.
Barrett Jackson-Aspen Valley Polo Club (Melissa Ganzi, Grant Ganzi, Nacho Figueras) defeated Bentley Scottsdale-Wales Centtrip (Ashley Busch, Ricky Cooper, Pete Webb), 12-5, in Saturday's featured match.
Grant Ganzi was named Most Valuable Player and at 20 he is the youngest player to be awarded the honor. Figueras led scoring with five goals, Grant Ganzi scored four and Melissa Ganzi had three goals. Webb led Wales with three goals.
No team has won the coveted Molina Cup four times.
In other games over the two-day event: also on Saturday, Scottsdale Maserati (Bill Stelcup, Martin Vidal, Diego Flurez, Andres Camacho) defeated Talking Stick (Matteo de Paolis, Mario Elser, Massimo Elser), 8-6; Molina Fine Jewlers-Palm Beach (Brian Boyd, Marc Ganzi, Juan Bollini) defeated Russ Lyon Sotheby's-World All-Stars (Tony Yahyai, Juancito Bollini, Carlitos Gracida), 8-5; and Albertson Safeway-Work To Ride (Hulian Penados, Shariah Harris, Kareem Rosser) edged Spiritual Gangster-Polo Azteca (George Estrada, Allison Freeman, Jaime Rizo, Theo Wakefield), 5-4.
On Sunday, France Luxe (Natalie Camacho, Sheryl Sick, Danielle Travis) defeated Sanderson Lincoln (Barclay Knopp, Felipe Ochoa, Vinny Sagalin), 8-1, in the Battle of the Sexes. It was the Sunny Hale Memorial that honored the all-time greatest woman's polo player, pioneer, author and first woman to win the U.S. Open in a male-dominated sport. Hale died at age 48 in February and was inducted into the Polo Hall of Fame on Feb. 16, 2018 in Lake Worth, Fla.
In the other Sunday game, Spiritual Gangster (Melissa Ganzi, Nacho Figueras, Juan Bollini) defeated Talking Stick (Marc Ganzi, Carlitos Gracida, Juancito Bollini), 9-4. Figueras was named Most Valuable Player. Melissa Ganzi and Figueras shared scoring honors each with foul goals. Marc Ganzi and Juancito Bollini each had two goals.
Figueras, the face of Ralph Lauren and ambassador for the sport, was making his debut in the event.
"I have wanted to be a part of the Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championship since it started, but the timing just never worked out until this year,” Figueras said. “Aspen Valley was the event’s three-time defending champion, and I wanted to help them fight toward a fourth victory.”
In last year's successful event, Aspen Valley Polo Club first made history winning its third consecutive title. No team had won the coveted Molina Cup three times until the team of Melissa Ganzi, Mike Azzaro and Ashley Busch defeated Bentley Scottsdale Monte Carlo Polo Team (Rommy Gianni, Tito Gaudenzi, Juancito Bollini). Melissa Ganzi was named MVP after scoring seven goals, including three penalty conversions.
In 2016, the Aspen Valley Polo Club team of Melissa Ganzi, Nic Roldan and Juancito Bollini defended its title with a 7-5 victory over Palm Beach Polo and in 2015, Roldan, Melissa Ganzi and Juan Bollini knocked off two-time reigning champion Clogau Wales, 9-5, for its first title.
The biggest polo event in the United States presented by Talking Stick Resort, is one of the most extravagant outdoor sports spectacles in not only Arizona but the United States and has helped increase polo's exposure and popularity. The event attracted a record attendance of more than 14,000 over two days. It is most attended polo event in North America. The official attendance will be announced later this week.
The popular event brings polo to the masses while providing a social backdrop for equestrian enthusiasts. The sport of polo was the centerpiece of The Polo Party.
Event founder and Scottsdale public relations executive Jason Rose continues to raise the event’s bar every year since he started it in 2011.
Fans enjoyed a sneak preview of the 2019 Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show and preview of the world-famous Barrett-Jackson 2019 Collector Car Auction along with local Ferrari and Lamborghini car clubs lining the field.
This year’s event also featured “The World’s Longest Fashion Show” produced by Phoenix Fashion Week as well as the Arizona Humane Society Canine Couture: A Dog Fashion Show Like No Other, presented by Lugari Pet Salon.
Other performances included The Phoenix Symphony (showcasing Mozart), Phoenix Theatre with some of the great Broadway musical songs of all time, bagpipes performance by Ford Dudley, Phoenix Opera and Phoenix Boys Choir.
Aspen Valley Polo Club is one of the nation’s fastest growing polo clubs and annually hosts the Dec. 17-22 St. Regis World Snow Polo Championship in addition to a full summer polo schedule featuring some of the world’s top players.
Aspen and Grand Champions Polo Clubs' owners Marc and Melissa Ganzi, both accomplished players, take pride in teaching and sharing the exciting sport of polo with anyone interested in learning. The husband and wife team are coming off a successful summer season at Aspen Valley Polo Club which concluded over Labor Day Weekend and enjoying a successful fall season at Grand Champions featuring the Triple Crown of Polo, National 20-goal, Carlos Gracida Legends of Polo and International Cup this month.
Grand Champions and Santa Rita Polo Farm hosts polo tournaments ranging from six to 26-goal and women's weekly league during the winter season in addition to special events at its well-manicured eleven fields during the fall, winter and spring seasons.
Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm cater 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 at the turnkey facility.
The Polo School, a 501c3 organization and stand-alone USPA club, is thriving at Grand Champions, Santa Rita Polo Farm and Aspen Valley. It is dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grass roots youth. Its mission is to provide individuals opportunities in polo at every economic and ability level. Scholarships are available.