gonzalopieresjr-75-2016-3-111GBy Juan Cruz Díaz de Céspedes

Gonzalito Pieres is currently in Palm Beach playing the USPA Gold Cup with Audi. Having won the tournament last year, Pieres and his team are out to defend their title. PoloLine joined the experienced Ellerstina player in America to talk about what’s going on in the polo world.

On not playing 20-goal tournaments: “You don’t get much of a break between the Argentine season and the US season if you play the 20-goal tournaments (Herbie Pennell, Joe Barry & Ylvisaker). Sometimes, that’s the better choice, but if you start the season with 26-goal tournaments then you face players that have been playing high-goal for a few months and have found their rhythm. But everything levels out at the end of the season.”

On his team, AUDI: “I am playing with the same team as last year, so we know each other well. The weather is not helping; the fields don’t look good. But we are all in the same boat in that respect.”

On plans for the next months: “When the American season ends I will head to Argentina, but for less time than usual; the bad weather here means that the season is lasting a lot longer than it should. We head to England on May 6; Facu and I are playing for King Power, so that should be a lot of fun.”

On upcoming challenges in England: “Juanma [Nero] and Adolfito [Cambiaso] are playing together this season, and Juanma is only on 9-goals. It’s going to be a very competitive team – a great team. In August we head to St. Tropez before returning to Argentina in September.”

On the 2015 Argentine season: “It was a good season, but perhaps not in terms of results. We needed a bit more luck, especially in the Hurlingham final. We were doing well in Palermo; in the final we faced a very good team and we struggled to find our rhythm at the beginning. Ellerstina is a fun team, we tried new positions and they worked. This year it won’t be so much about trying new things, but focusing on what we can do, putting it all together and organising our horses well. We are all in Palm Beach at the moment but we are thinking about our horses for the Argentine season – what to play first and what to save for later. We want to win, and it will be even better if we can start by winning Tortugas.”

On the 2015 Hurlingham final: “We started winning, so it was horrible to lose. But the team played well that day; we know that we can do it and the problem was that we couldn’t get the result. Watching the video later we saw that we made mistakes and there were things that didn’t go our way, either due to bad luck or because we made wrong decisions. It was the opposite in Palermo – we started off badly and then got better. The beginning was very tough for us; we were hit with a La Dolfina team that had four extremely good players playing their highest level that day.”

On Pablo Mac Donough & Juan Martín Nero, former Ellerstina players: “Today they are rivals, but we all get on well off the field. At the moment La Dolfina is the best working team there is; we have to try and beat them while they are still together.”

On the global state of polo: “We have had bad luck with the crisis, first in the US, then in Europe. But things in America are getting better; I would say that Palm Beach is missing a club and needing more space. Our type of polo is a platform, but we need low-goal polo to work as well – that is how patrons get into the sport and that is where developing players learn. This is a private club, with seven fields, and it is quite small. When the infrastructure grows as it has in Grand Champions… I think a lot of patrons will come out of Grand Champions.”

On polo in England: “The next two years in England will be tough. There were always twenty or seventeen team playing the high-goal, but last year we had fourteen. Polo always has highs and lows, but once people start playing they become addicted. It’s a matter of giving patrons the opportunity to start playing, then they will start loving it.”

On changes in Palermo: “You wait all year for Palermo, and there are teams that give their all in their first game – if you lose that, you are out. Personally, I would like there to be semifinals, that way we play another weekend and you get another chance in the group if you lose the first match. I would also like the other Triple Crown finals to be played at Palermo; that way you give more importance to the sponsors and the teams and we could help polo grow a bit more. I think that every final at Palermo is a good one; it’s easier to sell the product if the finals are played there.”

On the 2012 Tortugas final, played at Palermo: “Palermo was full that day and it was a great success. It’s a shame it wasn’t repeated. Places like Hurlingham are complicated to get to and the first matches are being played on Association grounds. The ground played for the final is very good, but playing a final with few spectators is not something that can be easily sold to sponsors. I think it would be easier if the clubs join up and play Triple Crown games at Palermo.”


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