By Juan Cruz Díaz de Céspedes
When I was a young boy, my father used to take me to Dorrego to watch the best polo in the world, the best player, and the best polo team in history. During those years it was normal to anxiously await the Palermo Open to watch the Heguy’s and Harriott’s play. I passed by the pony lines many times, walking away with a polo ball signed by those four polo legends. How much would that ball be worth today, in sentimental rather than economic terms!
Almost twenty years later, a young boy appeared who threatened to challenge polo history. Juan Carlos Harriott’s “;throne” was in “;danger.” That “;polo genius” started to carve his own legacy, and it was not farfetched to ask,“; Is Cambiaso better that Juancarlitos?” or at least, “;Do we have a new Juancarlitos in polo?”
Twenty-five years later and not a single person doubts Cambiaso’s role in the history of polo, even though some still compare one to the other – an Argentine trait that is mirrored in the “;Messi vs Maradona” football debate.
But yesterday, watching the Tortugas Open final, it seems that the Cambiaso vs Juancarlitos comparison is null and there is finally a team who lives up to the legend of Coronel Suárez. This La Dolfina team, with Cambiaso, Juan Martin Nero, Pelon Stirling and Pablo MacDonough, has broken every record in the book: They have played fifty-five games and only lost three!
I believe that yesterday’s game was the best of the fifty-five games. It was polo at its most glorious, an example for anyone wanting to learn about this sport. Incredible individual talents came together as a team, finding the simplest ways to get to goal. How long has it been since we watched a game where the main objective was to score and not to play for a foul?
Hit the ball and run; find space, hit to goal and score. Some say it was classic polo; it looks so easy from the outside but it rarely happens nowadays. It was the best polo in the world in its total glory, and undoubtably one of the best polo matches in the history of the sport.
We have spoken about Cambiaso and his role in history, but the Cambiaso who played yesterday was on another level, he made the impossible look easy, and he flew around on his clones, proving that his work off the field is as important as his skills on the field, breaking all the moulds and astounding all those who claim to know anything about horses. What a game Cuartetera Clone 06 had! What a game Cambiaso had over those seven chukkas! If was as if he was twenty again, but with the experience of a forty year old, thinking and working the game to his advantage!
His three teammates have also undoubtedly found their place in polo history. Can someone name the Top 3 Backs in history and not put Juan Martin Nero on the list? Can anyone find another team to challenge Coronel Suárez’s legacy? Yesterday I would have said that the best polo team in history was Coronel Suárez; today I answer differently, placing La Dolfina alongside Suárez. Many teams have ruled polo, but they are a step below these two greats. From the 1950s onwards we can name Venado Tuerto, El Trébol, Santa Ana, La Espadaña, Indios Chapaleufú I and II, and Ellerstina.
But in order for there to be a “;La Dolfina,” there must be an “;Ellerstina,” and this Pieres team make Cambiaso and his teammates even greater. “;One must know how to lose,” goes the saying, and Facu, Gonza, Nico and Polito are four phenomenal players who are struggling to beat the greatest team of all time (alongside Suárez), but they don’t give up. They keep working and playing diligently knowing that their day will come.
Yesterday’s final was an amazing game because La Dolfina faced worthy opponent, who at times gave the Cañuelas team a run for their money (especially during the first four chukkas), looking for goal and fighting hard. They are a forty goal team for sure, even if the board says thirty-nine. Didn’t Nico, rated at 9 goals, have an amazing game? It is also worth mentioning the umpires, because they went almost unnoticed. The less you see the umpires, the better the game.
The season is far from over; La Dolfina still have along way to go before they can claim another Triple Crown. Even though I find it hard to believe, especially after seeing yesterday’s match, they can still lose. Ellerstina can catch them off guard and stop them winning a fourth consecutive Triple Crown. But it would just be an anecdote in this wonderful story. Yesterday’s game was one of the best I have ever seen in my life, and when I am asked which was the best team in polo history, I have my answer ready: Coronel Suárez and La Dolfina.