By Sharon Robb
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., November 9, 2018---There will be plenty of familiar faces when the eighth annual Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championship gets under way Saturday at WestWorld of Scottsdale.
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. Last year's event attracted a record attendance of 13,129 over two days.
Grand Champions Polo Club and Aspen Valley Polo Club, two of the nation's fastest growing and innovative polo clubs, will again play a key role in the event's success.
With the breathtaking McDowell Mountains as a backdrop, Saturday features four matches with gates open at 9:45 a.m. until sunset at 6 p.m. Arizona Polo Club plays Italy at 10:15 a.m.; Palm Beach plays World All-Stars at 12:15 p.m.; defending champion Aspen Valley Polo Club plays Centtrip Wales at 2:15 p.m. in the featured match and Polo Azteca plays Work To Ride at 4:15 p.m.
Sunday offers two matches with the Battle of the Sexes: The Sunny Hale Memorial celebrating the greatest female player of all time at 11:30 a.m. followed by The International at 1:30 p.m. featuring the best players from the weekend playing each other.
In Saturday's opening action, local Aspen and Grand Champions players Brian Boyd, Marc Ganzi and Juan Bollini will compete on the Palm Beach team against Juancito Bollini and Carlitos Gracida on the World All-Stars team. Ashley Busch is a member of the Wales team along with Ricky Cooper and Pete Webb and Melissa Ganzi, Grant Ganzi and Nacho Figueras will compete for defending champions Aspen Valley Polo Club.
In Sunday's high goal match, Melissa Ganzi, Nacho Figueras and Juan Bollini will compete against Marc Ganzi, Carlitos Gracida and Pete Webb.
In last year's successful event, Aspen Valley Polo Club 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.
"This is such a great show they put on and I am happy to be a part of anything that helps the sport grow," said Melissa Ganzi.
Last year, the world's greatest polo party event broke several records including all-time attendance marks and remains the most attended polo event in North America. Among records were:
* Record attendance of 13,129 over two days.
* Sold out tents and tickets including the Molina Fine Jewelers VIP Tent, Barrett Jackson Champagne & Jazz Lounge, Sideline Parking, Premier Sideline Parking and Elite Sideline Parking.
* Seventy percent increase in ticketing and food and beverage revenue.
* Record number of vendors.
The popular event brought polo to the masses while providing a social backdrop for equestrian enthusiasts.
Fans will enjoy a sneak preview of the 2019 Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show and see another kind of horsepower with a preview of the world-famous Barrett-Jackson 2019 Collector Car Auction along with local Ferrari and Lamborghini car clubs lining the field. Rugby makes its debut this year with a rugby match taking place Saturday between the polo games.
This year’s event will also feature “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 include 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.
Event founder and Scottsdale public relations executive Jason Rose continues to raise the event’s bar every year since he started it in 2011.
"It could not have happened without the blue-chip roster of sponsors, partners and guests that make it all possible," Rose said. "We are grateful and appreciative. And, we are very fortunate to be in their very good company."
Rose's goal "is to become the biggest polo event in the world, one day surpassing the crowds in Buenos Aires."
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 exclusive Aspen Valley Polo Club is one of the nation's fastest-growing polo clubs. It offers polo in the summer for players and spectators. For spectators there are great field side views for tournament action, indoor and outdoor arenas and also the Aspen Valley Polo Club Boutique. Everyone is welcome to watch polo in a relaxed atmosphere with complimentary food, refreshments and weekly asados. Admission and parking are free. For Polo On Demand price rates of group and private lessons, arena chukkers, grass chukkers and individualized "Polo Experience" packages firstname.lastname@example.org log ontowww.aspenvalleypoloclub.com
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.