And here we are at last! Following a long delay, a new polo season in Argentina is set to start on Sunday November 1, with the Tortugas Open, the first leg of the Triple Crown, the most coveted polo trophy worldwide. It will be, indeed, a short, completely diffferent season, in such a challenging and atypical year for the whole world due to the COVID-19 outbreak. A season that will run through December 19, with the much awaited final of the Argentine Polo Open Championship.
Thus far, the first two competitions – Tortugas Open and Hurlingham Open – will be played entirely at the Alfredo Lalor Headquarters of the Argentine Polo Association, in Pilar. All games will be held behind closed doors; moreover, no press is allowed, with the exception of the official media and photographer, in order to supply televisation and images. All of them will be under strict hygiene and safety protocols, as well as the players and their shortened personnel within every ponyline.
This atypical Triple Crown will bring several news with regards to the participating teams. All the lineups will feature significant changes, with the exception of La Dolfina Polo Ranch (33), the only team that maintained the members as in 2019 (Guillermo Terrera 8, Juan Britos 8, Diego Cavanagh 9, Jejo Taranco 8).
The Tortugas Open title holders, Ellerstina (39), brought Hillario Ulloa (10) to fill in for Polito Pieres, who departed to La Natividad to take 8-goaler Matías Torres Zavaleta’s place. Matías will join Alfredo Bigatti 8, Jerónimo del Carril 7 and Segundo Bocchino 9 – who will play his first ever Triple Crown – in La Ensenada La Aguada (29). And speaking of La Aguada, no one of the Novillo Astrada brothers will play the Triple Crown for the first time since 1996; instead, they joined forces with Ernesto Gutierrez’s La Ensenada in order to provide with their support and organisation to the young lineup.
There are changes within last year’s sensation, La Natividad. The Cañuelas based team will be named La Natividad Las Monjitas (36), due to the partnership between the Castagnolas and Camilo Bautista. The team due to play their first complete Triple Crown, will be comprised by the superstar brothers, Barto 9 and Jeta Castagnola 8, South Africa’s Nachi du Plessis 9 and Polito Pieres 10, who is making his comeback to a team that managed to play in front of crowded grandsstands on field 2, at Palermo, last year.
And all eyes are set on Cañuelas, precisely, specifically on La Dolfina. the perfect 40-goal foursome, the unbeatable champions, who are forced to make a major change. Their crucial and spectacular back, Juan Martín Nero, will miss at least the first two competititions, because he suffered a couple of injuries (he broke his collarbone and left wrist), and underwent surgery. In order to fill in the vacancy Adolfo Cambiaso, Pelón Stirling and Pablo MacDonough will begin their season rated at 36-goal. Yes, 36-goal, because no less than Poroto Cambiaso, Adolfito’s son, has been hired to play with the multiple winners. This addition will make 14-years-old Poroto the youngest player ever to compete in the Triple Crown. In order to achieve this, he had to be raised 4 to 6, in terms of the Article 9 of Chapter 1 of the Technical Regulations of the Argentine Polo Association. Poroto and his father already won together the San Jorge Open, in 2019 and more recently, the Gold Cup for the British Open, last June.
The split of Las Monjitas and La Albertina Abu Dhabi, last year, produced a very interesting brand new lineup – RS Murus Sanctus (35), a foursome comprised by their former members – Facundo Sola 9 and Guillermo Caset 10, and Alfredo Cappella 8 and Francisco Elizalde 8, respectively. It will be the official presentation of Corinne Ricard’s French organisation in the Triple Crown. In addition, the team is a moving tribute to the unforgettable Rubén Sola, Facu’s father, through the RS that completes the team’s name. Indeed, RS Murus Sanctus will be a team to follow very closely.
La Irenita (30) and Los Machitos (31) complete the eight team draw of those who play all three tournaments. La Irenita will have Min Podestá 7, Juan Gris Zavaleta 9, Facundo Fernández Llorente 7 and Juan Martín Zubía 7; while Los Machitos brings a big attraction, which is no less than the comeback to the Triple Crown as a player of the one and only Mariano Aguerre. Mariano will be featured alongside the Toccalino brothers, Cubi and Santiago (both rated at 8), and Agustín Merlos 8, the top scorer of the Argentine Open ever.
Last but not least, and despite the fixtures aren’t yet officially unveiled, many other important tournaments will take place alongside the Triple Crown. Those are the Copa Pilar (formerly Copa Municipalidad de Pilar), Copa Cámara de Diputados, the Classification Tournament to decide two tickets to Palermo, and the Argentine Women’s Open Championship.
So, the green light is given, and polo will begin in Argentina. The schedule of the two first matchdays of the Tortugas Open – which will be played on single elimination – is the following:
- Sunday November 1 (Quarter finals)
11am: Ellerstina vs. La Irenita
4pm: RS Murus Sanctus vs. La Natividad Las Monjitas
- Monday November 2 (Quarter finals)
11am: La Dolfina vs. La Ensenada La Aguada
4pm: La Dolfina Polo Ranch vs. Los Machitos