By: Araceli Masias
On Saturday, December 19th, Peru held the final of its 97th Polo Open Championship in the Lima Polo Club at Pachacamac. La Quebrada (Marcelo Rizo-Patron, Jaime Pablo Rizo-Patron, Fico Uribe, Marcos Di Paola) beat Caña Brava (Adrian Poblete, Fran Elizalde, Tincho Merlos, Guillermo Li) with a score 10-8.
The game started with Caña Brava in the lead, having scored 3 more goals than La Quebrada in the first three chukkers. It wasn’t until the fourth chukker when the scores were equalized 8-8, and finally in the fifth and final chukker La Quebrada scored two goals, winning the game as an enthusiastic crowd cheered.
For the first time in Peruvian Polo history, the Lima Polo Club gathered this level of professional players from Argentina, Chile and Colombia to play in the open. The players included Tincho Merlos (9 hdcp), Nacho Novillo-Astrada (9 hdcp), Cubi Toccalino (9 hdcp), Marcos Di Paola (8 hdcp), Jaime Huidobro (7 hdcp), Juan Gris Zavaleta (7 hdcp), Francisco Elizalde (7 hdcp), and Fico Uribe (6 hdcp). Elimination rounds were held on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
The best Peruvian player in the championship was well known Guillermo Li, with 5 hdcp. He is part of Caña Brava and the only professional polo player in Peru. Among the mentions given by the organization, Conrado Puigrefagut (3 hdcp) of only 16 years old and the youngest player in the field was granted the title of the best Peruvian player. Furthermore, Marcos ‘Negro’ Di Paola (8 hdcp) was granted the best overall player of the championship.
This championship was part of the Lima Polo Tour, which held three different championships in July, October, and December. The tour ended the season with this last tournament, the Peru Open in December held at 22 goals.
The Lima Polo Tour has recently enforced Polo in the Peruvian community, and by bringing these professional players the number of Peruvians interested in the sport has greatly increased. Moreover, this open had a greater attendance than any other year, with over 2000 people attending the final match.
While in Peru, the Argentine players didn’t just play in the championship, but they also experienced the rich culture embodied by the country. The players enjoyed the amazing food and warm climate as well as killing it in the field. The players also visited some of Peru’s tourist spots: the Inca ruins around Lima and La Calera farm where citrus, grapes and avocados are produced.
The final was broadcasted by ESPN Internationally, and also performed some interviews with the international polo pros at the Peruvian sites.
The Lima Polo Club is looking forward to hosting next year the Max Peña Open (at 20 hdcp) in July and the Peruvian Open (at 22 hdcp) in December, with the involvement of high handicap players. The presence of the professional players allows the club not only to highlight polo in the local media, but rather to improve the game of the young Peruvian players as well.