While an intense Argentine season begins to wind down, the international polo circuit prepares for a new year of action, and the Dubai Gold Cup Series is revving its engines as it prepares to host its tenth edition. Habtoor Polo, one of the teams set to compete in the series, has announced which players will be fighting for the most important titles of the Middle East and Asia: The Silver Cup and the Julius Baer Gold Cup. Supporting Mohammed Al Habtoor on his search for glory will be Facundo Sola, recent finalist of the Argentine Open, Tommy Beresford and Hugo Lewis.
“We put the team together a few months ago,” shares Guillermo Cuitiño, Habtoor’s manager. “Mohammed wanted to play with a high goal player; a few years ago we had an excellent season with Nico Pieres, who at the time was 9-goals, and we were looking to replicate that formation. Facu Sola is rated at 9-goals, and we worked to build a team around him. I really like the team we have put together, and I am more and more convinced that we have an excellent group of players. We have played with Tommy [Beresford] before. He has been playing very well in England; he is very talented and has an incredible future ahead of him. Hugo Lewis is the third player, he is currently 3-goals and has been playing in England for many years. He knows that style of polo well and he knows exactly what his role in the teams is. We have the right players and are feeling confident.”
Facundo Sola also shared his views on the upcoming season: “The last time I was out in Dubai I was lucky enough to win everything, but I was playing with another team. This year I am going into the season with the same expectations, working to be as well organised as possible, helping Habtoor with everything I can, and fully focused on what’s ahead. We are expecting to be able to go out there and win, that is what we dreamt about with Guille when we put the team together. I think the team is great, I am very happy to be playing with Tommy and Hugo, and Mohammed, too. I have watched lots of videos and I have seen that Mohammed has improved a lot and that he is motivated. He has been playing in other places as well, like England. It is ideal that he has continued competing—that will make the season in Dubai all the better.”
Habtoor will not only be competing in the tournaments, but hosting the whole Dubai Gold Cup Series for a third year, a responsibility they carry out in style at Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club. “The club continues improving year on year,” says Cuitiño. “The fields have been played on for several seasons now, and I think that they are undoubtedly the best fields in Dubai. They are very well kept, and all three are very good, so that helps the development of the tournaments. A polo players always aims to play on great fields; one of the things that made Sotogrande famous was the quality of the fields, and I think that the same is happening here. They are the best fields I have played on, and it is clear that the club is ready for this series. There are a few new sponsors, the hotel is welcoming many tourists, and everything in looking good. This will definitely be the best season yet.”
“It’s amazing to be able to return to Dubai,” continues Sola. “I’m very excited. I am going to give my all for Habtoor, because it’s what I love doing. I like beginning a new project and having the chance to do well. I’ve been told that the club is fantastic; the fields, the houses, the hotel—everything looks great. It’s incredible that they have been able to put together a polo club like this one, and so quickly. I can’t wait to get started.”
Dubai has established itself as one of the most competitive polo destinations in the world, a feat that is certainly related to the socio-economic factors of the city. While polo in Dubai has a thirty year history, what Mohammed Al Habtoor has accomplished is outstanding, particularly for two reasons. Firstly, because the level of polo in this Emirate has developed into what it is today, and secondly, because he was able to unite several strong patrons in one series.
This will be Facundo Sola’s first season with Mohammed Al Habtoor, who has previously been a rival on the field. “Mohammed is responsible for the growth of polo in Dubai. It’s difficult to go and invest in fields, but he built the new club, stables, exercise track— everything. He is competing against a strong season in the States, and it’s a gamble to put money into somewhere where polo isn’t already established. I am thrilled that we are going to play together.”