The República Argentina Cup is the most “egalitarian” polo tournament; no matter whether the handicap is, everybody rated 0-40 can make the dream come true and play at Palermo. This unique competition is held at the Argentine Polo Association Headquarters in Pilar and Palermo, and the finals are played at the Cathedral.
After the postponement in 2020, due to the pandemic outbreak, the República Argentina Cup is back and “reloaded”. And despite it has always been a very attractive, competitive tournament, the 2021 edition is plenty of teams as well as remarkable players and horses. One of the participating teams is Monterosso, the organisation of the Italian patron Alessandro Bazzoni and his Norwegian-born wife, Siri. Since their beginnings, five years ago, when playing in the United States and the Dominican Republic, Monterosso has been growing quickly and getting better every year, with their sights on their biggest aim – to play in England. Today, and after five years playing the UK season, Monterosso is one of the most powerful, strongest organisations within British polo.
Already settled in England, Monterosso worked hard on their following goal, to make a base in Argentina. And they’ve improved real quickly; so quickly that today Sauveterre-Monterosso (the name of the foursome who are currently playing the República Argentina Cup) are able to have in their lineup no less than 10-goaler David “Pelon” Stirling. Joining him are his brother Santiago (5), Tomás Gagliardi (2) and Ignacio “Cubi” Toccalino (8). It is worth noting that Tomás is filling in for Alessandro, who will arrive to Argentina shortly to join the team. “Alessandro always liked to play in Argentina. He manages to come every year in order to play tournaments, mostly to compete and maintain his level. In fact, he came last year, but he couldn’t be able to play due to to the pandemic; so I kicked off 2021 playing the República Argentina Cup and then the Polo Tour, in Ellerstina”, says Cubi Toccalino.
A crucial piece within Monterosso – the name comes from a small medieval village, set in Liguria, Italy -, Cubi has been with the organisation since day one. Five years ago, he met Alessandro Bazzoni in Dominican Republic; those were the days when Monterosso spent seasons between Dominican Republic and the United States, while they aimed to play in England. “Monterosso’s growth has been huge and very quick thoroghout these five years”, explains Cubi. “This is my fifth year within the team, we already played four seasons in England; at first, it was all new for us, but we got stronger every year as an organisation, bringing more horses. Alessandro’s wife, Siri, started with ladies polo, then she played medium goal and now she is very much into high goal. Currently, Monterosso have two teams, Monterosso and Monterosso Vikings, that are very well settled”.
What can you tell us about the opportunity to set this team together to play the República Argentina Cup?
Actually, it was Alessandro’s idea, which really appealled to me, because our goal is to play as much tournaments as we can with Pelón, who will be our team mate in England. The original lineup is Pelon, Alessandro, Santi and me. Alessandro could not be able to come yet, but he is coming soon, that’s why Tomás is filling in for him.
Having started with the República Argentina Cup was ideal, because it is a very prestigious and very competitive tournament. On a personal side, this is the first time I play the República Argentina Cup, and I like it a lot, it is a fantastic tournament. And Alessandro loves to play this cup.
Meanwhile, Pelón decided to stay in Argentina this year, to focus on his own Oriental Breeding, try new horses, and also play some tournaments. One of them is the República Argentina Cup. “I decided to play the Autumn season because I stayed in Argentina, and Alessandro wanted to play the Polo Tour, as well”, says the Uruguay-born player and the only 10-goaler within the competition. “It’s been such a good idea, because we started to play with Cubi long before we arrive to England and Alessandro will be fit to play there. It is a lot of fun, too, I love the entourage within the organisation very much. Both Alessandro and Siri love horses, and I am very happy to help them as much as I can”, he adds.
How did your brother join the team to play the República Argentina Cup?
Well, actually we were going to play with Gonzalo Ferrari, but he couldn’t be able to do it due to an injury. So we hired Santi; on a personal side, to be able to play such a tournament like the República with my brother is priceless. We are having such a great time.
“I was asked to join Monterosso a few days before the Reppública started. I was already playing some tournaments with Pelón, and since I have the same handicap as Gonza, they invited me to play with them”, says Santiago Stirling, who is playing his first ever República Argentina Cup, “a fantastic tournament, a lot of fun for me”, he remarks.
Santi states that “it is a pleasure play with Monterosso, they are a fabulous organisation that’s investing a lot in horses and everything to improve and get better, both in England and Argentina. Alessandro does like to do everything well, he is a very neat and tidy person. He gives a lot to polo not only at an international level but also in Argentina, bringing teams to play here. Without doubts, Monterosso is an organisation that does everything very well, one of the very best of polo”.
For Santiago Stirling, to play such a prestigious tournament with his brother “is a lot of fun. We already played together in Sotogrande and in Argentina as well; but now we are playing a lot during the Autumn season in Argentina, the República, among others. It is a lot of fun, I love playing with him, because I learn a lot from him and he supports me with horses and advice to improve my play. As brothers, we get along very well on the field”.
After their participation in Argentina, Alessandro and Siri Bazzoni are ready to compete in England. In 2020, they had the two teams playing in the Queen’s Cup only; but this 2021, England will see the two Monterosso lineups in the two most important tournaments, the Queen’s Cup and the Gold Cup for the British Open – Monterosso (Alessandro, Pelón Stirling, Cubi Toccalino and Mackenzie Weisz) y Monterosso Vikings (Siri, Sebastián Merlos, Juan Martín Zubía and Chris Mackenzie). In 2020, Siri made her debut in British high goal by playing the Prince of Wales Trophy; up next, husband and wife clashed in the final of the Subsidiary Trophy of The Queen’s Cup.
“The opportunity to play with Monterosso came up after the end of the British season last year”, says Pelón Stirling about being hired by the Bazzoni’s organisation. “We had a meeting with Alessandro and Cubi and the two of them asked me to play with the team. On a personal side, I am very enthusiastic to be a part of a remarkable organisation like Monterosso; not only is already well settled but they work hard to keep growing and improving, always looking forward. Alessandro and Siri have one team apiece and they give opportunity to everybody. I am very happy to provide my own little contribution to Monterroso’s growth”, adds Pelón, the multiple winner of the Open with La Dolfina.
“We are very happy with the team for the British season, and we are getting ready to play”, adds Cubi, and concludes: “We are sending more horses to England, with the idea to be very well mounted and have the support of the team, something that gives you security”.