Argentine Season Underway with the Jockey Club Open
Back in England the summer season has come to an end and the chill of winter is coming on, but in Argentina the weather and the teams are just starting to warm up. Things kicked off with the Jockey Club Open, the first tournament out in Argentina where the high goal players start to flex their wings and try on their newly formed teams for size. The tournament got under way with wins from Ellerstina and Alegría in the Semi Finals against Magual and La Aguada Las Monjitas respectively. These two teams then faced each other in the Final on Saturday 26 September on the fields of the Argentine Polo Association in Pilar. The Final was a high scoring affair with both teams fighting hard. After an even start, Alegría were unable to hold on. Allowing Ellerstina into the lead in the fourth chukka meant disaster for the team in pink, as they were unable to claw their way back despite many goals. The Pieres family proved too much and with 10 goals from star player Facundo Pieres and solid offensive play by cousin Polito it was Ellerstina who walked away victorious, 21-16.
This tournament is a warm-up for the Triple Crown starting Tuesday 29 September with the Tortugas Open. Alegría have little time to rest as they play the opening match against another family line-up, this time in the form of the Heguys and their Chapaleufú side. The rest of the matches will take place over the following few weeks with the Final set for Saturday 17 October. Two teams, to be decided in qualifiers, will join the current six teams for the Hurlingham Open taking place shortly after the Final of the Tortugas Open. These eight teams will then battle it out in the Hurlingham Open and the Argentine Open Championship a little later. Each side is no doubt as determined as the next to defeat reigning Triple Crown champions La Dolfina, and prevent them from making this their third consecutive Triple Crown title. No team will be more determined than close second favourites Ellerstina. The new team made up of the three Pieres brothers Facundo, Gonzalito and Nico plus cousin Polito, will be keen to see their new family line-up beat long-time rivals La Dolfina, a feat they have been unable to achieve for the last two years.
The Argentine Triple Crown teams:
La Dolfina (40): Adolfo Cambiaso (10), David Stirling, Jr. (10), Pablo Mac Donough (10) & Juan Martín Nero (10)
Ellerstina (39): Polito Pieres (10), Nicolás Pieres (9), Gonzalito Pieres (10) & Facundo Pieres (10)
Alegría (35): Cristian Laprida, Jr. (8), Hilario Ulloa (9), Lucas Monteverde, Jr. (9) & Frederick Mannix, Jr. (9)
La Aguada Las Monjitas (35): Ignacio Toccalino (9), Sebastián Merlos (9), Eduardo Novillo Astrada, Jr. (9) & Alejandro Novillo Astrada (8)
La Aguada (34): Agustín Merlos (8), Guillermo Terrera, Jr. (8), Guillermo Caset, Jr. (9) & Ignacio Novillo Astrada (9)
Chapaleufú (34): Alberto Heguy, Jr. (8), Ignacio Heguy (9), Bautista Heguy (8) & Eduardo Heguy (9)
Photograph: The victorious Ellerstina team. By Matias Callejo