It is not easy to win The Queen’s Cup, one of the most prestigious tournaments of the world; and winning for the third time is definelty not easy at all. Juan Martín Nero claimed the Queen’s Cup for the last time six years ago and today he’s still leaving his mark and his remarkable legacy in the sport. In his first season playing with Great Oaks Les Lions, he made it again last Sunday, but he does not forget the long and winding road he had to go through during these last three years.
“First and foremost I want to thank Jose (Josefina Aldanondo, his wife). I had two very complicated years full of injuries, and finally I had no injuries during the last year. Sorry for her, she was a nurse, she took care of the kids, the family, she was always very supportive; it wasn´t easy, it was hard for everybody, for my friends, my working team, everybody. There are so many people behind, I don’t want to forget about anyone. There’s a lot of people I want to thank to. If we have won today it was because of them. So I want to dedicate this to all of them”, Juan Martín Nero told PoloLine after they defeated Park Place Vaara in the championship match in extra chukka.
In addition to the Trenque Lauquen-born player, Great Oaks Les Lions lineup included captain Dillon Bacon, James Beim and Cruz Heguy. After being the runner up of the Prince of Wales Trophy, their expectations for the Queen’s Cup couldn’t be better. But things didn’t got off to a good start for them – they lost to Scone in their debut match at Guards. But from then onwars, they weren’t defeated ever again – only the final saw them three goals behind in the sixth chukka. “We set this team in August last year, we put a lot of expectations on it. After all we’ve work for, bringing and buying horses, Dillon (Bacon) loaning some, everyone of us giving his best, looking for horses, to be able to win the Queen’s Cup is awesome, is a dream, and it’s so hard, I mean it´s very hard to win it, there are so many good teams, many good organisations and sometimes you have need some luck and today we did”, states the team’s back.
To make a comeback after a three goal disadvantage in the final chukka and play extra time, often gives more confidence to the team that’s battling from behind, such as the case of Great Oaks Les Lions. However, Juan Martín Nero points that, “it was really tough to reach the final; it’s a tournament full of good teams, fifteen teams; so having won it and the way we did it, it’s unbelievable, I’m so happy right now. Of course, it’s better when it happens at it happened to us; I mean, we were losing by three and suddenly we tied, so you get more confident. On the other hand, for them, winning by three, then we tied it and maybe you get kind of doubtful because you almost had the win and you realize that now it’s going away. But I don’t think that we set the pace in OT; they were unlucky on a 60-yards penalty, Juano (Britos) ended up taking it from a dip and maybe otherwise he could have scored it. We missed and opportunity at first, where the ball hit the post. At the end, there are no favourites at the OT”.
A total of fifteen teams played the Queen’s Cup at Guards and Great Oaks Les Lions claimed the coveted trophy for the second time – their first was in 2020 – with a goal produced by James Beim in extra chukka. “It was very tough to reach the final, a tournament that saw very good teams, no less than 15 teams; and to have won as we did, is incredible, such a big delight”, concludes Nero.