After five years, Patrick Paillol, one of the best polo players in France, had the joy of lifting one of the most prestigious tournaments within the sport in his country, the Open de Paris. Obviously, he made it wearing the Kazak jersey, the organisation he has been playing with for more than ten years, this time with a lineup composed by Santiago Irastorza and the Ferrari brothers, Tomás and Martin. The latter had the difficult challenge to fill in for Sébastien Aguettant, Kazak’s captain, heart and soul, who unfortunately got injured in the first match of the season and was forced out for the remaining of the French Triple Crown.
“It’s ten years I’ve been playing with Sébastien, and we share the same goal, which is to form a big organisation in order to be competitive, as well as build a structure in order to have professionals, grooms and everybody want to be a part of. We put the team together with Pandi (Irastorza), who is a very good person, one you can trust; a very good friend on and off the field, it is indeed a real pleasure to play with him. And when Sébastien got injured in the first match of the season, I guess the first choice was Tomi’s brother, Martín, who’s only 15-years-old and who should have been named MVP in the final, I think”, states the 5-goaler French player.
And he adds: “In terms of horses, we’ve been buying some really great mares in the last couple of years, thanks to Pandi, who works in Ellerstina; in addition to Gonzalo Pieres, with whom we have a great relationship. So we are able to have some very good mares to compete on a high level”.
Having won the Open de Paris was not the only remarkable achievement for Kazak; the latter was the ice on the cake of such an unforgettable season for them. “It’s been a pleasure to win the Triple Crown of Paris, and against Sainte Mesme, a huge organisation and who have won several tournaments in Paris throughout their history. Robert (Strom) is a very close friend of mine, we’ve known each other for many years and we have the same goal: to win and be competitive. Kazak and Sainte Mesme are very close friends off the field and fierce rivals on the field, because we both want to win, but always in the best of terms. I want to thank Robert for keeping the team together while Corchito was still in hospital, it was very moving to play against him. And the most important thing is that Corchito is coming back, so we are very happy to see him in Sainte Mesme again soon”, says Paillol.
The scenario where Parisian polo is played is, without doubts, one of the most glamorous and historic within the sport. The Polo de Paris, or simply, Bagatelle, hosted the 1924 Olympic Games, and polo was among the sports involved. That’s why is very special for any player worldwide to play on those grounds. On this issue, Patrick Paillol emphasizes that “to play in Bagatelle is always very moving for me, because Bagatelle is such a special location; there are not many places that have the soul and the history Bagatelle has; in fact, the Open de Paris celebrated its 128 edition. It is a closed place, and to me it brigs a lot of pressuer, because of the history, the feelings. We won the Open with Clemente (Delfosse) in 2019, with Kazak-Outsiders and it is so very good to have won it now with the name Kazak alone. It is such a remarkable achievement for us”.
Clemente is no other than Clément Delfosse, another of the best polo players of France and, like Patrick, a 5-goaler.“We are close friends, as so with his brother Matthieu”, he says. “Perhaps I am closest to Clemente because we have the same age, and I’ve always saw Matthieu as the eldest brother. We have a lot in common with Clemente, he is such a great friend and I tell you, is very difficult to have such a great friend in polo. I won the Open de Paris with the two of them: with Matthieu in 2015 and with Clemente in 2017. And we are thankful to Sébastien, who gave the three of us the opportunity to play medium goal in Sotogrande, where we had a lot of fun. I guess we will play together again sometime”.
Kazak, an organisation based close to Sainte Mesme and La Magdeleine, 45 minutes away from the south of Paris, has a very promising future ahead. In addition to what’s coming up, to play at La Moinerie and then in Saint Tropez, Sébastian Aguettant and Patrick Paillol already have their sights on their next major goals. “We played the Open de France last September, with Jero del Carril and Segundo Amadori, and that’s the tournament we want to win; last year, we lost the final to our neighbours, La Magdeleine. So, we look forward to working with Sébastien in the future, because we share our passion for polo, and thanks to him we are able to have such a big organisation. We are big friends. And we are working to put a team together to play high goal in England next year; we have to wait and see, but we already have it in mind”.
Last but not least, he spoke about the developing and growth of polo all over France, the great expectations for the future as well as the institutional aspects of it. “I speak a lot with Jean-Edouard Mazery, the President of the FFPolo”, he remarks. “I think Polo in France is becoming more and more competitive: there were seven very good teams playing the Open de Paris, fourteen in the Rider Cup and sixteen are expected to play the Open de France. We have to take advantage of all this polo in France, because it is good for everybody: for the French, for people abroad who are coming back to play in France. It means we are doing things very well in terms of clubs, organisations, and we are competitive. Polo was rated very low in France, between 6 and 10 goals; but the growth of high polo contributed to make it better. That’s why many big organisations who play in England are coming back to play in France again; it’s great news, because they put pressure on other teams to be well organised, mounted and be as much competitive as possible.