With the final of the Gold Cup in Sotogrande, the European polo season begins to draw to a close. But what a season it was! With many highlights over the last four months, there are several topics to discuss.
FACUNDO PIERES: #1 WORLD RANKING
After several years of Adolfo Cambiaso’s dominance in the World Polo Tour ranking, the Ellerstina player has managed to bump La Dolfina’s frontman off the number one spot after his victories in both England and Spain. Not only did Pieres take La Indiana to Queen’s Cup glory, a title that had evaded Bickford’s team for the previous two years, but he also guided them to high goal Gold Cup victory in Sotogrande. And he did it in style, as MVP, top scorer of the final and the tournament, and winning BPP (Azúcar). He now prepares to take on the Argentine Triple Crown, as he aims for Palermo, where Ellerstina have not been victorious since 2012.
ENGLAND SHOWS ITS FLAIR AND UNRIVALLED COMPETITIVENESS
The English polo season got off to a rocky start due to new HPA policies regarding helmets, which lead players to complain about the compulsory nature of the ruling. Nonetheless, the quality of polo did not suffer, and the large number of teams competing in the medium and high goal made the English season the most competitive of the year. Not only were there a high number of teams competing, but they were all very evenly matched, making the principal tournaments extremely competitive and entertaining to watch.
LA INDIANA HAS NO LIMITS
In 2016, La Indiana had a remarkable year in the English high goal, qualifying for the final of the Queen’s Cup and Gold Cup. They showed how the dynamic of an organisation could change, with a patron being an integral part of the team, and yearly planning of their involvement in the American, English, and Spanish seasons. Jump to 2018 and they have a Queen’s Cup title under their belts, as well as the Sotogrande Gold Cup. The team is now one of the favourites in any tournament they play, and La Indiana has become one of the most important polo organisations in the world.
SAINT TROPEZ CONTINUES TO GROW
Saint Tropez Polo Club has undergone an important transformation since Alshair Fiyaz took the reins in 2015. Boasting a spectacular location, with endless activities on offer, the club on the French Riviera welcomed several ten goal players this season, and established itself as the best European summer polo destination.
DEAUVILLE IS BACK
It was a real pity when, a few years ago, only three teams signed up to play the Deauville Coupe d’Or, one of the most prestigious tournaments in European polo, with over sixty years of history. But over the past four years, Jean-Edouard Mazery has helped the club get its swag back, and 2018 was a year to remember. A high number of male and female teams took to the fields, and the Coupe d’Or saw six 16-goal teams battle for the trophy.
LA CONCEPCION: UNSTOPPABLE IN FRANCE
Hans Spek and Diego ‘Topo’ Braun have built a solid partnership over the years. When the German patron took his first steps in the sport, he did so with Braun. This year they had a brilliant season together; not only did they reach every final of the six tournaments they played, but they won four of those titles (in Polo de Paris, La Moinerie, Saint Tropez and Deauville). They are now back in Paris looking for their next piece of silverware.
AN EXCITING ARGENTINE SEASON EXPECTED
The season kicked off on Tuesday with the San Jorge Open, officially marking the start of the Argentine spring season, the moment polo fans around the world have been waiting for! Nine teams, including four ten goalers, are set to compete in the Jockey Club, and the Triple Crown brings changes which are sure to add a dose of drama to the season; It was announced that the Tortugas Open will now be played with direct elimination. This will be the eighth year Cambiaso, Stirling, Mac Donough and Nero represent La Dolfina, a team that has changed the course of modern polo and will continue fighting for more titles. Ellerstina, on the other hand, are set to do everything in their power to stop their rivals. The Pieres’ will go into the season with high spirits, after several important victories abroad. But first they will have to go through Las Monjitas, a team with a new line up set to break the La Dolfina-Ellerstina monologue. While Adolfo Cambiaso has not had the best year, he is sure to rise to the challenge at Palermo, the Cathedral of polo, and fight for his fifteenth Argentine Open title. Buckle up – this is going to be a crazy ride!
RUFINO BENSADON MEANS BUSINESS
Francisco Bensadon’s son is no longer an up-and-coming polo player, he is the real thing. His level of polo, his understanding of the game and his mental strength grow match after match. Many have predicted that he will reach ten goals. In 2017, even though he did not win any titles in France, Rufino was named the most outstanding player of the 16-goal French season in a ceremony at the Hotel Alvear in Buenos Aires. This year, however, his level has improved even further. He was an instrumental part of his team, and the key to the titles won by In The Wings.