A new edition of the prestigious Queen’s Cup kicks off on Tuesday at Guards Polo Club. The English season will present many strong teams, but two stand out from the rest: Dubai and King Power. However, there are those who are set on taking on the big dogs and showing what they are worth. Zacara, featuring Pablo Mac Donough in its lineup, is out to do just that. “It is clear that King Power and Dubai are two very strong teams, with great players and organisations,” states Mac Donough. “On paper, they are the two strongest teams. But, on the other hand, many teams determined to have a good season. They are the teams to beat, but it is good to feel that we can put up a fight and win.”
Do you think that you are the third strongest team?
To be the third team, you have to prove your worth. At the moment, no one is anything. We will see who went well at the end of the season. Today we have more horses than we did last year, which definitely helps. We have faith in the new team. We are starting the season with a lot of energy and positivity.
What is special about the English season?
The history of the main tournaments, the Queen’s Cup and the Gold Cup, that have been played for many years in the same place. And England in the summer is a very special place; you get to escape the Argentine winter, which is tough. England is a beautiful country, and having the opportunity of spending three months a year there is great.
La Dolfina’s number three had a great season in Dubai in 2015, winning the Gold Cup with Zedan. This year it seemed like Mac Donough would claim the big titles once again, but the 10-goaler suffered an injury which kept him out of the action for several weeks. “The overall outcome of Dubai was positive; we won one of the important tournaments [The Silver Cup], but it was a shame that I couldn’t play the Gold Cup, especially since we had such a good team and organisation,” says Mac Donough. “I fell and injured my leg during the second game. Things like that happen. But now we are here, and playing the English season is great. There are good teams and good tournaments. I’m playing with Lucas [Monteverde] again, but this time with Zacara; starting with a new team are things that keep you motivated.”
How do you see the future of polo in Dubai?
They are doing things well over there; tournaments are being organised earlier, Mohammed Al Habtoor built two grounds and they are finishing a third. This is all good news, because if there was something that was not up to par, it was the quality of the fields where we played the Silver and Gold Cups. The new Habtoor fields are first-class. That really helps the level of polo, especially if you have good horses, and the patrons enjoy themselves more, too. There is a good level of polo, teams, players, horses, and they can continue to grow. There is space for many more teams.
Do you feel that people expect a lot more from you since winning the triple Triple with La Dolfina?
I know that I have done very well in Argentina over the last ten years. I have been more successful in Argentina than I have in the UK, for example. I took my opportunities when I played for Dubai with Adolfito (2010), where we won the two major tournaments. I was also lucky to win the Queen’s Cup replacing Facu playing for Ellerston. But I also want to show that I can win with another team. We had a good run with UAE, too. We made it to the final of the Gold Cup last year, but we couldn’t quite win it.
In what ways do you feel that you have grown after these last few years with La Dolfina?
You are more mature on the field, you are more conscious than you were before, you have more experience. Having won over these last years with La Dolfina and being part of one of the best teams in the world gives you a lot of confidence on a personal level. It is hard to enjoy the moment, but you enjoy yourself as time goes by. We know we have a good team to play the three tournaments this year, but we don’t really talk about a fourth Triple Crown like we spoke about the third one. I would love to win the Open again; I want to win that tournament as many times as I can.
Is there a chance of you playing with La Irenita in the future?
Today I want to make the most of playing with such a good team like the one I have. I am not thinking about how long I am going to play polo, or much longer I am going to play with La Dolfina, or when I am going to play for La Irenita. It has been tough getting here; you need a lot of luck. I don’t think about dates. I am very aware that I have a great time playing in the team I’m in. Aside from all of the pressure that is on us, we have a lot of fun playing together.