Aspen Valley Knocks Off Dutta Corp, Plays Palm Beach Equine For Spring Challenge Cup Sunday At Grand Champions Polo Club

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WELLINGTON, Fl.—May 11, 2019----Aspen Valley and Palm Beach Equine will meet Sunday for the Spring Challenge Cup at Grand Champions Polo Club.

Aspen Valley (Pablo Pulido, 2, Juancito Bollini, 4, Grant Ganzi, 3, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 8) led from start-to-finish to knock off defending champion Dutta Corp (Kris Kampsen, 6, Carlitos Gracida, 4, Timmy Dutta, 2, Tommy Collingwood, 5), 10-7, in Friday's first semifinal.

In the second semifinal, Juan Bollini scored the winning goal with 1:07 left in in the game to give Palm Beach Equine (Brandon Phillips, 4, Juan Bollini, 2, Nic Roldan, 8, Scott Swerdlin, 0) a thrilling 8-7 victory over Audi (Marc Ganzi, 2, Sugar Erskine, 6, Pablo Spinacci, 6, Jared Zenni, 6).

On Mother's Day Sunday, Audi and Dutta Corp will meet in the Just For The Love Of It Cup at 10 a.m. on Field 1. The final is 11:30 a.m. on Field 2.

Aspen Valley's victory avenged last Sunday's 10-9 overtime loss to Dutta Corp in the Sun Cup final.

"It's nice to be in the final," Ganzi said. "We want to do better than last weekend obviously. Now we play Papa Juan, Nic, Brando and Dr. Scottie. It's not going to be easy."

Aspen Valley looked like a different team against Dutta Corp in their second meeting in six days.

"We worked a lot better as a team today," Ganzi said. "We played more for each other and made smarter plays. We were more organized.

"We made less fouls until the end. "We just played simple, classic polo. I was happy with the way the horses went. Pablo is playing better every game. It's 20-goal and he hasn't played in nine months. He's playing well and he's a smart guy and that helps."

Aspen Valley kept Dutta Corp off-balance and never let them into the game. Aspen Valley led 5-2 at the half after outscoring Dutta Corp 3-1 in the third chukker. 

Aspen Valley pulled away 7-3 late in the fourth chukker. Dutta Corp came within two goals in the fifth and sixth chukkers but could not get any closer.

"Last time we played very well against them on Sunday," Astrada said. "We were with them the whole game. Today we controlled the game more. Now we are in the final again. Let's see if we can win this time."

Ganzi and Astrada shared scoring honors each with three goals. Pulido and Bollini each had two goals.

For Dutta Corp, Dutta scored a game-high four goals. Gracida had two goals and Kampsen added one.

In the second semifinal, Palm Beach Equine started off with a 3-0 lead on handicap against 20-goal Audi and extended its lead to 5-1 behind two Roldan 60-yard penalty conversions and went on to take a 7-4 halftime lead.

Audi clawed its way back in the second half shutting out Palm Beach Equine in the fourth and fifth chukkers to trail by one, 7-6, going into the final chukker. With 2:59 left, Zenni scored the tying goal.

With both teams battling for possession close to the goal mouth Bollini found an opening to not only score the winning goal with 1:07 left but then turned away two scoring attempts by Audi in the final seconds.

"The team played very well," Bollini said. "This is a fun team. I've been playing with Brandon so many years, we know exactly how we play on the field so it's not a secret.

"The other team was very strong and played tough but we got lucky in the end," Bollini said. "It was good polo, we run and hit the ball, no crashing. It was anybody's game."

The 57-year-old Bollini will compete against his oldest son Juancito in the final. 

"I'm just happy to be playing after everything I have been through," Bollini said. "Aspen Valley is another thing. Those kids are playing incredible. Alejandro is making those kids play well, passing and running. I don't want to say I hope we win or they win. It's a no-lose situation on Sunday. I want to have a good game, have fun and enjoy it."

Bollini and Roldan each had two goals and Phillips added one. Palm Beach Equine picked up three goals on handicap.

Audi got balanced scoring with Ganzi, Spinacci and Zenni each with two goals and Erskine with one.

The remainder of the Grand Champions spring schedule is the Polo Gear Challenge Cup next weekend and May 24-26 The Memorial. The spring season is being live-streamed on Wellington-based ChukkerTV.

Grand Champions fall, winter and spring tournaments attract a large international field of players from all corners of the world  including India, Mexico, New Zealand, Chile, Costa Rica, Argentina, Canada, Ecuador, Brazil, Switzerland, France, Germany, Uruguay, Azerbaijan, Australia, South Africa, Nigeria, Venezuela and England.

Grand Champions and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique polo facility in Wellington with 120 stalls in five self-contained barns, exercise track, five climate-controlled tack rooms, vet room, staff quarters, guest house and three polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation including one field for stick-and-ball with plans to build more polo fields in the future.

Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm caters to men, women and youth polo players at all levels and ages. 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, created by Grand Champions President Melissa Ganzi when the club first opened in 2007.

The Polo School, a stand-alone USPA-sanctioned polo club, 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. The Polo School operates in Wellington January through May and September through November. Headed by Director of Operations Juan Bollini, The Polo School has nurtured several men and women polo players now playing in the pro and amateur ranks since its inception.