By Andrés Ugarte
Over his long career, Lucas Monteverde has become one of the most exceptional high goal players. Winning four Argentine Open titles is an incredible achievement which some players can only dream about. Today he is still a very successful player, but his sights have changed slightly: “I now enjoy the season much more. I experience it differently to what it was in 2005 or 2006. When I was with La Dolfina it was more intense; I thought about polo 90% of the time. Now I focus more on my family and my children, but without forgetting about polo. I’ve got to the point where everything takes care of itself. I have a certain structure, stables, people who help me, an organisation which works well. I can now enjoy many other things as well,” Alegria’s number 3 tells PoloLine.
How do you see the Alegria team working?
I think the team is working well. The doubts we had when Polito left have been dispelled and we are now comfortable. Fred is doing incredibly well, Hilario is one of the best teammates I could have, and I’m loving how Magoo, who had never played at one, is playing. So the team has a solid base.
What about in terms of organisation?
I want to be competitive and reach the highest level. Everyone want to beat the best, Ellerstina and La Dolfina, and if you don’t improve in terms of horses, then that gets more difficult to achieve. We are all on the same level in terms of breeding, buying, bringing horses from abroad; we’re constantly searching for that horse that will help us improve, so our string gets better every year. Magoo was our biggest doubt and he brought his best mares over from abroad. I think we are on solid ground in terms of horses.
How do you feel you have changed since you played with La Dolfina in 2005?
What I’m experiencing now in my day to day life couldn’t be more different to what my life was like when I played with La Dolfina in 2005. Ten years have passed. I have grown as a player and improved with my horses too. I played with Mariano Aguerre, Lolo Castagnola, and Adolfito in a team that was well established but also had a lot of pressure to win. Now I take on the role of most experienced player on the team. It is great, I like it, but it came about naturally. I didn’t change, it was just part of the process.
And since that first win at the 2005 Argentine Open, Monteverde has grown in such a way that his role in each of his teams has changed considerably. “My role isn’t to make the team work, but I am there to share my experience and decide how to take on each challenge and the season as a whole. Hilario has also matured a lot over the last three years, he doesn’t get so hot headed any more, or talk back to the umpires. I think I helped him mature in that respect. The team works, but not specifically thanks to me. Fred has settled into his place at Back, and playing at number three with Hilario at two makes it a lot easier. The experience I share is from games I have played, Open’s won, how to take on a great team knowing you can win – that’s what I transmit to the guys,” says Lucas.
What do you still hope achieve?
I would love to win the Open again, but it’s not a priority. I was lucky enough to play with La Dolfina and win four Open’s. Perhaps I don’t have the same motivation that someone like Hilario has. I am motivated, but it comes from a different place. I enjoy playing more, I enjoy being with my horses, I like riding my new horses, I feel happy when I know I’m well mounted and that I play for a team that works well. Having won the semifinal of the Open with Alegria was incredible, like winning the Open. I enjoy everything that is happening with Alegria at the moment, and it continues to motivate me.
The most exotic place you have travelled to for polo…?
This year I got the chance to travel to Brunei. I had heard about it a lot but I had never been. I went with Pablo Mac Donough. We were in Dubai and Pablo organised an exhibition match in Brunei. It is an incredibly weird place.
Do you enjoy playing abroad?
I mostly play in England and Dubai now; I enjoy it very much. I really like the English season and I feel comfortable there. I stopped going to the US a few years ago and now I play in Dubai. My family has also got used to Dubai and we have a great time there. It is more relaxed and it doesn’t have the competitiveness Palm Beach has. It is great and I get to spend more time with my family.
Beyond Monteverde’s high-goal polo dreams and exotic travels, he still has his feet firmly on the ground. “My special place in the world is still 25 de Mayo, but I also feel at home in Cañuelas. We’ve been there since 2001 and in 2010 I built my place behind La Dolfina. I have my stables, my house, fields, everything. The truth is that I now spend more time in my stables in Cañuelas than I do in 25. But 25 de Mayo is my special place,” he concludes.