Bit by bit, teams are confirming their participation for the 2018 Argentine Triple Crown. The only thing we know for certain so far is that the Open will be played with ten teams once again, and the format for Tortugas, Hurlingham and the Qualification tournament will also go unchanged. This week, we received confirmation that a new team will be fighting for a place in Palermo: La Ensenada. Youngsters Juan Martín Zubía, Jero del Carril, Juan Britos and Facundo Fernández Llorente, four players with enormous potential, are set to fight for a place in the most prestigious polo tournament in the world. Youth is definitely the defining characteristic of the team, the average age being 22.5 years.
This would be the first time any of them compete in the Qualification tournament. Speaking to PoloLine, Facu Fernández Llorente shares: “It is what every player wants: to try and get as close to the Open as possible. I am very happy and I think it will be a lot of fun to play. I always saw the Qualification as something distant and difficult to get close to. Being able to play the tournament is great, so we are ready to have a good time and make the most of it, as opportunities like this don’t come around too often.”
Juan Britos, who had a great 2017 with Las Monjitas, states: “It is a joy and a huge satisfaction on a personal level. It has always been my goal and I have always dreamt of playing this tournament. 2017 was my best year yet, and I hope that 2018 is as good or even better. When you go up in handicap, it becomes harder to get organised to be able to compete. But I have worked my whole life for this. I don’t want to wait anymore. I’m ready to play!”
This relationship with La Ensenada came about mainly because of everything that took place in 2017, where Juan Martín Zubía and Jero del Carril, who are great friends, played and won several tournaments with Ernesto Gutiérrez. Among others, they played the Julio Novillo Astrada Cup (finalists), the Thai Polo Cup (semifinalists), and they went on to win the Ellerstina Gold Cup. “It is great to know that we are going to be competing to then be able to play against the best,” says Juan Martín Zubía, the youngest player of the team, with just 18 years of age. “Jero and I have been playing together a lot, and after our handicaps went up we thought about putting something together for the Qualification tournament. Myself, Jero and Ernesto Gutierrez, who is also part of the team, all wanted to build a team with guys of the same age, the idea being that if we don’t qualify, we go on to play the Municipalidad and the Cámara.”
Jero del Carril, finalist of the 2017 Cámara with Pilarchico La Ensenada, alongside Juan Martín Zubía, tells: “We are very excited. I want the season to come around quickly so that we can play. We’re a bit nervous because this is something new, but happy because it is a great opportunity to play the Qualification with friends, which is a dream come true. Last year Ernesto leant me some horses during the season, which helped me a lot, and his intention is to help the whole team as much as he possibly can. I think this comes at a good moment, because luckily I now have the chance to go to Dubai and England to play. I need to make the most of this opportunity to learn as much as I can, and enjoy it!”
For this team, two pairs of players came together with the intention of forming a stable, long term project, and in nine months they will face the greatest challenge of their professional careers in a bid to reach the Argentine Open.