Las Heras-Los Baguales Agropharma won the 76th Argentine Open of Pato after beating El Relincho SRVT by 17 goals to 15 on Palermo’s number two ground. For the first time in the history of the sport, a forty goal team played the final of the Pato Open. It is worth noting that the sport had to wait thirty-eight years to see a forty goal team play; the last time we saw a team of that level play was on December 22, 1979. On that day, Humberto Montero, Juan Finochietto, Osvaldo Inchauspe and Jorge González played for Barrancas del Salado (team to win the most Pato Open Championships, fifteen in total).
This year’s final provoked much excitement, and spectators were eager to see a forty goal team play, composed of four ten goal players: Nicolás Taberna, Ariel Tapia, Facundo Taberna and Sergio Alberti. However, the original line-up didn’t last long on the field; Sergio Alberti suffered a fall in the first couple of minutes and had to be replaced by Sergio Pedretti.
Ariel Tapia and Facundo Taberna gave a great performance, and the “All Star Team” set the tone to claim a 7-3 advantage by the end of the second period. Their advantage grew to 13-7 by the end of the fourth. On El Relincho’s side, Juani Lanfranco was not on point, and his brother Andrés – pilar of the team in the El Recuerdo Cup – could not give his best performance. But the Lanfranco brothers worked hard and put El Relincho back in the game, only one goal behind their opponents. Emotion took over the match, and Checho Pedretti, Alberti’s substitute, came through and scored two goals towards the end of the final period to win the title for Las Heras Los Baguales.
– Las Heras Los Baguales Agropharma: Nicolás Taberna 10, Ariel Tapia 10, Facundo Taberna 10, Sergio Alberti 10 (replaced by Sergio Pedretti 8). Total: 38.
– El Relincho SRVT: Andrés Lanfranco 10, Martín Lemme 8, Juan Ignacio Lanfranco 9, Luciano Lemme 9. Total: 35.
Top scorer of the final: Juan Ignacio Lanfranco (7 goals).
MVP: Andrés Lanfranco.
Fair Play prize: Ariel Tapia.
BPP: El Cobre, owned by Facundo Taberna.
Score Las Heras Los Baguales: 3-1, 7-3, 9-4, 13-7, 15-11, 17-15.
After the match, Ariel Tapia spoke to PoloLine: “Winning the Argentine Open of Pato is the highest achievement in this sport, it means a lot, and every pato player wants to win it. I am lucky to claim this trophy for a seventh time. This win is particularly special because I suffered an injury this year. It was the first time I broke a bone in my whole sporting career. Going through the whole recovery process and winning the final is extra special. My goal is to continue enjoying this sport, play with my children and also with my brother. I hope to play three years longer, but I’m not thinking about the final.”
Ariel Tapia has played professional polo, so the fact that the final is in Palermo does not pass him by. “Playing in Palermo, in this stadium, is amazing. I really enjoy coming to Palermo, and you learn every time you play here. And now it is like I am learning to play after many years of visiting, so I enjoy it more and more.”
Finally, Tapia compares his two passions, pato and polo: “They are completely different sports. In terms of horses, the preparation is very similar, but the horse also has to be good for pato. You have to feed them, exercise them, brush them – it is similar to polo. But the fields are different, they are smaller and the ground is slightly harder. The measurements are 220 m x 90 m (a polo field is 275 x 146), but during the season the field might be a bit smaller, about 200 m approximately.”