By Alejandra Ocampo
This year’s Tortugas Open bought no surprises as La Dolfina claimed the title for a fourth consecutive year after beating Ellerstina 18-12 in the final of the first leg of the Argentine Triple Crown.
Apart from analysing the game itself, it is worth noting the way in which La Dolfina continues to make history, in terms of titles and horses. Today Adolfo Cambiaso played six clones of his legendary mare Dolfina Cuartetera, all of which went incredibly well. Dolfina Cuartetera Clone B06 (age five) was awarded twice, being named Best Polo Argentino Producto by the AACCP and Best Playing Pony of the final.
And what else can we say in terms of the team itself? This current La Dolfina formation came together in 2011, they have played fifty-five games together and only suffered three defeats. After winning their first Triple Crown in 2012, they have claimed thirty-six consecutive victories and ten titles. While Cambiaso states that they “;don’t look at numbers because they are distracting,” this squad (which today had Pepe Heguy as coach instead of Milo Fernandez Araujo, who is in Venezuela) has drastically exceeded everyone’s expectations. The relationship the four players have established has allowed them to reach a state of perfect understanding on the field. Led by Cambiaso, who at forty-one years of age is playing better than ever, La Dolfina continue to dominate the best polo in the world.
This final between La Dolfina and Ellerstina was a game of two halves. The match got off to an even start, with both teams bringing the thunder, even though La Dolfina always maintained a slight advantage. The reigning champions won the first chukka 3-1, but Ellerstina made a quick comeback to tie the game 4-4 in the second thanks to goals from Facundo and Gonzalito Pieres.
The following chukka saw both teams score several times, and that exchange continued until the fourth. La Dolfina could not pull away from Ellerstina. In the fourth chukka Facundo Pieres scored a thirty yard penalty to tie the game at 10-all, but Cambiaso scored in the last thirty-seconds to make it 11-10 at half time.
The first half was not lacking in excitement; both teams played flat-out, scoring many field goals and giving away few penalties (seven fouls in total, with an average of only a foul per chukka, Ellerstina converted three out of three and La Dolfina scored all four of their penalties).
But things changed in the following chukkas. While Facundo Pieres scored a penalty for Ellerstina, Cambiaso and David “;Pelon” Stirling gave La Dolfina the advantage. By the end of the fifth chukka the score was 14-11 in favour of La Dolfina. Slowly but surely, La Dolfina broke away from Ellerstina by working on their defence and marking; “;that was the thing we improved the most in the last three chukkas, and that is how we won the game,” stated Juan Martin Nero after the match. La Dolfina won the sixth chukka 2-0, with goals from Nero and Cambiaso giving La Dolfina a 16-11 advantage. Ellerstina worked hard to get back in the game, but they were helpless at the hands of their rivals.
Stirling and Nero scored the last two goals for La Dolfina. With less than five minutes to go, the Cañuelas based team were 18-11 up. Facundo Pieres was the last to score, making it 18-12 with four minutes left on the clock. The bell rang and La Dolfina claimed their fourth consecutive Tortugas Open title. Another victory, another celebration, and La Dolfina’s historic winning streak continues.
La Dolfina: Adolfo Cambiaso (h) 10 (11, three penalties), David Stirling (h) 10 (2), Pablo Mac Donough 10 (3) and Juan Martín Nero 10 (2). Total: 40.
Ellerstina: Facundo Pieres 10 (6, four penalties), Pablo Pieres 10 (1), Gonzalo Pieres (h) 10 (3) and Nicolás Pieres 9 (2). Total: 39.
Score La Dolfina: 3-1, 4-4, 8-6, 11-10, 14-11, 16-11 and 18-12.
Umpires: Gastón Dorignac (h) and Juan José Díaz Alberdi. Third man: Marcelo López Vargas.
Top Scorers: Adolfo Cambiaso and Facundo Pieres, 22.
MVP: Adolfo Cambiaso
BPP: Dolfina Cuartetera clone B06
Best Polo Argentino Bred, presented by the Argentine Polo Pony Breeders Assn.: Dolfina Cuartetera clone B06
– Throw ins
La Dolfina 17 / Ellerstina 19
7 per team
– Penalties converted
La Dolfina: 3/3
– Shots on goal
La Dolfina: 15/22
Adolfo Cambiaso: This is a historic day for me. I have always dreamed about playing an important final with Cuartetera clones. I played six today and I think that they lived up to the occasion. I arrived thinking that 03 and 05 were the best; 01 was going well so I left her for the final. But 06 was the best.
We played open polo. I was very focused and I think that helped the team; it was contagious. Pepe pointed out our mistakes; Milo was right, Pepe says the right thing at the right time. He helped us a lot at the beginning, when we were very nervous. We missed Milo but I want to thank Pepe for being here today. I also want to merit Gastón Dorignac, because it rained 50mm and the fields were in perfect condition. The umpires let us play, they blew what needed to be penalised, and everyone enjoyed a day of good polo.
I don’t want to look at the numbers because they are distracting; all I know is that I am playing with friends. We have been playing together for six years now and we have become very close. That certainly helps the team. We are now going to focus on what is coming next: Hurlingham.”