Aspen Snow Polo Championships

In an emotionally charged final, Richard Mille defended its title in the St. Regis World Snow Polo Championship Friday at Rio Grande Park.

In front of a sold-out VIP tent, defending champion Richard Mille (Louis Jarrige, 3, Edouard Pan, 4, Pablo MacDonough, 10) held off two-time champion U.S. Polo Assn. in the final seconds for a thrilling 7-6 victory.

Frenchman Louis Jarrige, turning in one of his finest career performances, was named Most Valuable Player after scoring a game-high four goals and playing well defensively. 

Delicioso, a 15-year-old bay gelding played by MacDonough, was the Polo Today Best Playing Pony. 

Barata, played by Ganzi, was the American Polo Horse Association Best Playing Pony. Ganzi was also awarded the Play of the Game.

The APHA was created in 2006 by legendary Hall of Famer Sunny Hale to recognize polo ponies in America and encourage events that showcase them and hard-working dedication of grooms. 

For MacDonough it was his second tournament victory in seven days. Last Saturday he won a record seventh Argentine Open with La Dolfina and was MVP.

“It feels great to win it two years in a row,” MacDonough said. “We are so happy to win again. It was a tough game and the field of teams this year was better than last year. I can’t say enough about this great event.”

MacDonough won his second snow polo title with two new teammates, Jarrige and Frenchman Edouard Pan, who played well above their handicaps in a physical and hotly-contested four-chukker game.

“This was really amazing,” Pan said. “This is my first time playing in Aspen. The field was amazing. It was a really good game and it feels good to leave here with a win.”

In the fourth and final chukker with the game tied at 5-5, Jarrige scored back-to-back goals within two minutes to give Richard Mille a 7-5 lead with 3:05 remaining. The first goal he scored on a great neck shot off a back shot pass from MacDonough. His second goal was on a breakaway after he picked up a loose ball.

Ganzi converted his third 15-yard penalty of the game with 2:26 left to cut the lead to 7-6. Against a strong man defense by Richard Mille, U.S. Polo Assn. tried to mount an offensive attack. With 1:30 left, Jarrige saved a potential Roldan goal. 

U.S. Polo Assn. players, despite hitting it out of bounds three times, had two quick scoring opportunities but missed both. Roldan looked to be on his way to scoring the tying goal when Jarrige stopped his shot in the final seconds. Ganzi quickly backed the loose ball into the goal but the bell signifying the end of the game had rung one second earlier and it was no goal. The head umpire did review the play after the game and it was confirmed no goal.   

“It was tough, it could have gone either way in the end,” Ganzi said. “The ball didn’t really bounce our way. It is what it is, that’s polo.”

In addition to Jarrige’s four goals, MacDonough scored two goals and Pan added one. For U.S. Polo Assn., Ganzi led with three goals, all on 15-yard penalty conversions. Roldan had two goals. The 15-goal rated team also received two goals on handicap.

In the first half, it didn’t take Richard Mille long to erase yje two-goal deficit by winning the first three throw-ins. Back-to-back goals by Jarrige tied the game at 2-2. Ganzi’s first penalty conversion gave U.S. Polo Assn. back the lead (3-2) going into the second chukker.

After a mostly defensive second chukker, Pan scored with 1:15 remaining to tie the game 3-3. With 31 seconds left, Roldan picked up a loose and scored for a 4-3 advantage.