129th Argentina Open: La Natividad qualified to final after a dramatic league decider

And they did it again… La Natividad qualified to their second consecutive final at Palermo! Following a remarkable match that took place at Palermo, on Friday November 25, the Cañuelas-based foursome, claimed a narrow 15-14 win over La Irenita Grand Champions and took on the first ticket to the championship match of 129th. Argentine Open, the most important tournament of the world, that sees ten teams up to 39 goals, in participation.

The day started with the clash between La Hache and La Irenita GSquared, with the former playing their best match of the season. They got off to a powerful start, and by half time they had a commanding 9-3 lead, thanks to their crucial men, Joaquín Pittaluga and Carlos Ulloa, while Santiago Bocchino provided the goals for La Irenita GSquared.

Although La Irenita GSquared performed well in the fifth chukka, when the closed the gap to three goals (6-3), La Hache bounced back quickly through two penalty conversions by Pittaluga, and halfway the sixth they were 11-6 up. La Irenita GSquared attempted to get closer in the scoreboard, but La Hache were still the dominant force. In the last chukka, La Irenita GSquared made one last effort and stood two goals behind with one minute remaining in regulation time. But time was running up and the deal was saidd and done. La Hache not only claimed a 13-11 victory but also 300 crucial points.

But the big thing was already waiting on Palermo’s main field, the League A decider, between reigning champions, La Natividad, and La Irenita Grand Champions. Not only the winner would qualify to the final of the Argentine Open, but also it was the rematch of the semifinal of the Hurlingham Open, which went to Pablo MacDonough and Co. So, yes, it was expected a remarkable contest –  and indeed, it was.

Pablo MacDonough picked the ball in the first minute of play and opened the scores. Halfway the first chukka, Barto Castagnola passed the ball to his brother Jeta to tie at 1-all. And that’s how the first episode came to a close, tied 2-2, following goals a 60-yards penalty conversion by Jeta Castagnola and a field goal by Juan Britos.

La Irenita Grand Champions earned their first advantage in the second chukka, thanks to a great goal by Juano Britos who is also in charge to widen La Irenita’s lead to 4-2 through a corner. But La Natividad seized the reins in the third chukka with two unanswered goals – Jeta converts two penalties, one from the spot and a 30-yards, and a spectacular field goal by Nachi Du Plessis. This meant that La Natividad had reached the lead (5-4). However, not for too long – an accurate play by Pablo MacDonough ended up in a goal by Juan Martín Zubía, to tie again at 5-all, until they reached another tie, 6-6 by half time. Until then, the contest was exactly what was expected – a very close, hard fought game, with two merciless teams presenting a fierce battle. La Natividad and La Irenita Grand Champions were up to the task, without hesitation.

The fifth chukka belonged to La Irenita Grand Champions, when they managed to outscore La Natividad 3-1, thanks to three consecutive goals by Fran Elizalde, which led the first two goal lead for La Irenita Grand Champions. Meanwhile, Jeta Castagnola produced La Nativida’s single goal within the chukka, through a 60-yards penalty conversion.

While the fifth chukka was La Irenita’s, the sixth belonged to La Natividad, outscoring their contenders by an impressive 4-1, with goals split between Jeta (2), Barto, and Nachi du Plessis to put La Natividad 12-9 ahead. A very tough seventh chukka followed – Juan Britos scored for La Irenita Grand Champions, but La Natividad replied quickly when awarded a 30-yards penalty successfully converted by Jeta. Once again, La Natividad earned a three goal lead (13-10). However, La Irenita Grand Champions put enough pressure and pushed hard:  goals by Juan Martín Zubía and Fran Elizalde (2) added some drama to the match. There was only one chukka remaining and the scoreboard read a 13-all.

But the inimitable Jeta Castagnola did it in the last chukka. He produced two goals (one 30-yards penalty and a fantastic field goal) to seal the 15-13. But, no way, La Irenita Grand Champions were determined not to give up that easily; with only one minute in regulation time, Pablo MacDonough scored, but the efforts didn’t pay off. At the end of the day, La Natividad not only had their rematch by winning 15-14, but also earned the first spot to play the championship match of the Argentine Open for the second consecutive year, and the possibility to retain the title they won last year.

On Friday afternoon, Palermo saw an extraordinary match, played by two teams that left everything; La Natividad is back on the final for the second consecutive year, but La Irenita Grand Champions has been remarkable as well.



La Hache: Juan Ruiz Guiñazú 8 (2 goals), Carlos María Ulloa 6 (4), Santiago Cernadas 7, Joaquín Pittaluga 7 (7, 5 penalties). Total: 28.

La Irenita Gsquared: Santiago Loza 8 (1 goal), Segundo Bocchino 7 (7, 5 penalties, 1 corner), Martín Podestá 7 (1), Felipe Dabas 7 (2). Total: 29.

Score La Hache: 2-0, 5-1, 7-1, 9-3, 9-5, 11-9, 13-8, 13-11.

Umpires: Gastón Lucero & Gonzalo López Vargas.               Third manMartín Aguerre.


La Natividad: Camilo Castagnola 10 (11 goals, 8 penalties), Pablo Pieres 10 (1), Bartolomé Castagnola Jr. 10 (1), Ignatius du Plessis 9 (2). Total: 39.

La Irenita Grand Champions: Juan Britos 9 (5, 1 penalty), Francisco Elizalde 9 (5, 3 penaltie), Pablo Mac Donough 10 (2, 1 penalty), Juan Martín Zubía 8 (2). Total: 36.

Score La Natividad: 2-2, 2-4, 5-5, 6-6, 8-9, 12-9, 13-13, 15-14.

Umpires: Martín Pascual &  Guillermo Villanueva.              Third man: José Ignacio. Araya.

Cover photo by Matias Callejo/Prensa AAP.

The 129th. Argentine Open will resume on Sunday November 27, in a quite complicated definition within League B. The first contest is about earning the points or go to either to play the 2023 qualification or a playoff with the winner of the Cámara de Diputados Cup; the second, is the league decider, to unveil the second finalist:


La Irenita Clinova: Facundo Fernández Llorente 8, Tomás Fernández Llorente Jr. 8, Bautista Bayugar 8, Isidro Strada 8. Total: 32.

La Esquina: Pascual Sáinz de Vicuña 6, Cristian Laprida 8, Lucas James 7, Ignacio Laprida 8. Total: 29.

Umpires: Matías Baibiene & Martín Pascual.                            Third man: Martín Aguerre.

In this case, options are as follows:

  • If La Irenita Clinova defeats La Esqina:
    -La Hache will play a playoff against the winner of the Cámara de Diputados Cup.
    -La Esquina and La Irenita G-Squared will play the qualification in 2023.
  • If La Esquina defeats La Irenita Clinova: 
    -La Hache and La Esquina must play a tiebreak game: the winner will earn a spot to play the whole 2023 Triple Crown; the loser, will clash in a playoff against the winner of the Cámara de Diputados Cup.
    -La Irenita Clinova and La Irenita G-Squared must play the 2023 qualification.


La Dolfina Saudi: Adolfo Cambiaso 10, David Stirling 10, Adolfo Cambiaso Jr. 9,  Juan Martín Nero 10. Total: 36.

Ellerstina: Facundo Pieres 10, Hilario Ulloa 9, Gonzalo Pieres Jr. 9, Nicolás Pieres 10. Total: 38.

Umpires: Gastón Lucero & Gonzalo López Vargas.                Third man: José Ignacio Araya.

La Dolfina Saudi have the easy task, because they only need to win in the derby of polo, against Ellerstina. The latter, who lost to Cría La Dolfina last week, are obliged to defeat La Dolfina Saudi by three goals and score eight or more, in order to earn a spot in the final. There’s a little hope for Cría La Dolfina, as well – they need a win from Ellerstina over La Dolfina Saudi by a handful of goals, a maximum of seven for Ellerstina and a maximum of four for La Dolfina Saudi.

The final of the 129th Argentine Open is set to be played on Friday, December 2. 

129° Argentine Polo Open – Fixture & Teams

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