by Andres Ugarte Larrain
A new week of the Argentine high-goal rolls around as we receive news from other countries and other levels of polo. Yet again, the rain has become a problem, with many games being suspended due to wet conditions.
Luckily, the 123 Hurlingham Open was able to start on Sunday, with four games played between the club and Pilar. Ellerstina and La Dolfina have been lethal opponents, both very effective when facing teams that have come through the Qualification tournament. They continue to prove that big organisations make all the difference and that, if this continues, the chance of there ever being ten teams in the Open is becoming increasingly distant. Alegria beat Washington once again in what was a very good game. This weekend the boys in pink were more focused than they were in the Tortugas Open, anticipating plays and working hard. They took control of the game in the fourth chukka and didn’t look back. In Sunday’s game Alegria fulfilled expectations and played as if they were the third team in the tournament.
It is also worth mentioning the number of spectators present at Hurlingham on Sunday. This year’s event is accompanied by Buenos Aires Market, located in the sponsors patio. Between those attending the Market and those watching the game, the club saw over ten thousand visitors pass through its gates. The event means that many people who are new to polo were able to enjoy it up close and witness the best polo in the world, something extremely positive for our sport. The stands were packed (not an everyday occurrence); the challenge will be maintaining the same attendance level over the following games.
Let’s talk about the United Kingdom. Last week we learnt that the development of polo in the country might be in jeopardy. The UKVI (UK Visa Immigration) has suspended fifteen licences for sponsoring candidates and has told the HPA that it needs to make some changes. Judging from what they have suggested, it can be assumed that their knowledge of polo is not too wide. It doesn’t take much analysis to see that the percentage of players rated at 5-goals or more is very low. That will not only affect the level of polo played in England, but it will also impact low-goal polo, the polo where players grow and develop and where new patrons come from.
We will have to wait and see what comes out of future meetings between the HPA and UKVI, and how the situation can be improved. These rules will mostly affect grooms, since they will have an even harder time entering the UK than the players; their trade is unique and work is not easy to come by.
Back to Argentina. One of the biggest tournaments of the season, outside of the Triple Crown, kicked off on Monday: the Copa Municipalidad del Pilar. The quantity and quality of teams, the competitiveness of the tournament, and the presence of some of the best players in the world, such as Adolfo Cambiaso, Hilario Ulloa, Mariano Aguerre and Eduardo Novillo Astrada, make this an unmissable event. The tournament also sees some of the best young players in the country take part, including Jero Del Carril, Juan Martín Zubía, Tomás Fernández Llorente and Isidro Strada.
Another unmissable event will be the Third edition of the Thai Polo Cup Argentina which kicks off next Tuesday. Sixteen teams up to 14-goals will take part. This tournament has grown a lot over the past three years: six teams played the first edition, ten took part in 2015, and sixteen will play this year. It is undoubtably one of the most important patron based tournaments in Argentina.
But first, the Copa Polo Solidario takes place on Friday November 4th at Santa Maria de Lobos Polo Club. The tournament is in aid of the “Salita de Primeros Auxilios de Cuartel 8” of the Paraje La Porteña. The Cup will see polo greats like Adolfo Cambiaso, Sapo Caset, Pelon Stirling, Tincho Merlos, Lucas Monteverde and Guillermo Terrera take to the field. It is a unique opportunity to watch six of the best players in the world, who are playing the current Triple Crown, in a special setting.
This 2016 has been extremely intense, and PoloLine has been present at every mainstream polo event: Palm Beach, Thailand, Dubai, the Dominican Republic Polo Challenge, England, Paris, Saint Tropez, Sotogrande, and more. This is all reflected in PoloLine’s social media presence, with over 10,500 followers on Twitter, over 27,000 Instagram followers, and almost 15,000 likes on Facebook.
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Lastly, PoloLine’s promise to communicate and inform extends all over the world, be it from a field, a stand, or a pony line. You can follow the highlights of the week through P1 Sport, which shares everything that has happened and everything that is still to come. You can also follow polo up close via PoloLine’s social networks.