Facundo Pieres is a great champion. He has won the most prestigious tournaments in Argentina at Palermo, England, Spain, and the United States. However, 2019 was a special year, as Pieres swept the inaugural GAUNTLET OF POLO™ for Pilot consisting of the C.V. Whitney Cup, USPA Gold Cup® and the CaptiveOne U.S. Open Polo Championship®.
“It was an amazing season, I don’t know if I could ever repeat it,” Pilot’s captain Pieres said. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a season like it before in America, winning so many games and playing so well. That is truly what happened, the team was good from the beginning of the season until the end. We knew we were the team to defeat, and we never lost, especially in each tournament final we were solid.”
Reflecting on the reasons his team won so convincingly, Pieres commented, “We had a great team, and a good organization and horses, which helped us a lot. I do not know if it was my best season individually, but overall for the team, organization and our focus, I think it was the best. It was three and a half months of being all-in, which is very demanding.”
Facundo Pieres and Curtis Pilot celebrate their GAUNTLET OF POLO™ victory. ©David Lominska
Undoubtedly what happened in 2018 was present in Facundo Pieres’ mind throughout the season. Only a year ago, he played for Valiente alongside Adolfo Cambiaso winning both the C.V. Whitney Cup and USPA Gold Cup®. Considered by many the dream team, they unexpectedly lost in the U.S. Open Polo Championship® Final to Daily Racing Form in the upset of the season.
“You always get more experienced the longer you play. I am surprised how in the sport of polo you never stop learning, and that is great.” – Facundo Pieres
What did he learn this year? Facundo’s answer: “I learned to win and lose. I learned from what happened last year in the U.S. Open Polo Championship® Final. Even though we lost, we were only one game short from winning it all. It was a different season, with fewer teams and less competition, but having lost the final was good for me and it helped me. That defeat was in my head throughout this entire season, I never forgot it. It was a rematch of sorts for me. I did not want to lose in a final again, especially after such a good season, and having such a good chance to win. I had a lot of motivation to try to win Gauntlet of Polo™.”
Matt Coppola hooks Facundo Pieres during the C.V. Whitney Cup. ©David Lominska
No one will forget how good 2019 was for American polo. “It was an amazing season, in every sense of the word,” Pieres said. “There has not been this much action in the United States in years. There were a lot of teams, players, vets, grooms and a lot of people working. There was a lot of polo being played and plenty of matches daily, sometimes even three or four matches a day. I think it was absolutely amazing, it has not been this good for a long time.”
Pieres shares the best fact to quantify how successful the American season was: “I was talking with a friend and we figured out that, except for Joaquin Pittaluga, who only played one match as a substitute, every player 8-goals and above played in the U.S. None of the 8-goalers stayed behind in Argentina, and I do not think that has happened in a very long time.