The 130th. Argentine Polo Open, the culminating moment of the spring season in Argentina, and the most important polo competition worldwide, kicked off on a cold and rainy Tuesday October 31, with double action at the AAP Headquarters in Pilar. La Hache La Roca and Cría La Dolfina were vicorious over La Esquina and La Hache Cría & Polo, respectively.
In the opening match, that was played under heavy rainfalls for a couple of chukkas, La Hache La Roca, with Tommy Bereford subbing in for the injured Polito Pieres, claimed a 18-7 win over La Esquina. The Lincoln-based foursome dominated the contest from the beginning, led by an extraordinary performance by Sapo Caset, who produced nine goals, and very well supported by Hilario Ulloa and Fran Elizalde who scored eight goals between the two of them. Meanwhile, La Esquina struggled to find their best form; but the truth is that La Hache La Roca, the recent runner up of the Hurlingham Open and the Tortugas Open, overwhelmed them.
In between matches, a poignant tribute to the unforgettable Juan Carlos Harriott Jr. (“Juancarlitos”) and Francisco Dorignac took place, as grounds 1 and 2 were named after them, respectively. Following the tribute, Cría La Dolfina and La Hache Cría & Polo played the second game of the day; a very hard fought match, indeed, that ended with a tough win for the former by a 15-13 score.
The contest had a very balanced start, with Diego Cavanagh displaying a remarkable performance, and the Joaquin Pittaluga’s perfect accuracy to convert penalties. However, the third chukka belonged to Cría La Dolfina, when they sweept La Hache Cría & Polo taking a commanding 6-3 lead. In the fourth chukka, Cría La Dolfina’s flagship man, Diego Cavanagh, suffered an injury on a finger, and he had to be replaced by Benjamín Panelo, Tomás brother, who made his absolute debut in the Argentine Open. And a really very good debut, indeed – he quickly scored his first field goal, followed by a penalty conversion to give Cría La Dolfina a 9-4 advantage.
La Hache Cría & Polo were far from giving up and they reinforced their attack in the fifth chukka; three unanswered goals by Facundo Sola (3) and Joaquín Pittaluga allowed them to close the gap to two goals behind. They put enough pressure, and managed to tie at 9-all. But Benja Panelo came to the rescue, and Cría La Dolfina re-took the lead (10-9).
Being outscored 5-1 in two chukkas, made Cría La Dolfina get into the match again. Benjamin Panelo, the MVP of the game, was crucial. And despite La Hache Cría & Polo remained on their tail, the combination of the two Panelo brothers secured a very important victory in their debut in the Open in the last chukka.
130th. ARGENTINE POLO OPEN
MATCH #1 – LA HACHE LA ROCA 18-7 LA ESQUINA
La Hache La Roca: Hilario Ulloa 9 (5 goals, two penalties), Francisco Elizalde 9 (3), Guillermo Caset 9 (9), Tomas Beresford 7 (1). Total: 34.
La Esquina La Mascota: Pascual Sáinz de Vicuña 6 (2, one Penalty 1), Cristian Laprida 8, Lucas James 7 (1), Ignacio Laprida 8 (4 penalties). Total: 29.
Score La Hache La Roca: 3-0, 4-1, 7-1, 11-2, 13-2, 16-3, 18-5, 18-7.
Umpires: Matías Baibiene & Hernán Tasso. Third man: José Ignacio Araya.
PARTIDO #2 – CRIA LA DOLFINA 15-13 LA HACHE CRIA & POLO
Cría La Dolfina: Guillermo Terrera 9, Tomás Panelo 9 (2 goals), Diego Cavanagh 8 (6, three penalties; injured, he was subbed in by Benjamín Panelo 7 -7 goals, three penalties- with 2.45 in the fourth chukka), Alejo Taranco 9. Total: 35.
La Hache Cría y Polo: Rufino Bensadón 8 (3 goals), Carlos María Ulloa 7 (1), Facundo Sola 8 (4), Joaquín Pittaluga 8 (five penalties). Total: 31.
Score Cría La Dolfina: 2-2, 4-3, 6-3, 9-4, 9-7, 10-9, 12-10, 15-13.
Umpires: Guillermo Villanueva & Gonzalo López Vargas. Third man: Martín Aguerre
The 130th. Argentine Polo Open will resume on Wednesday November 1, with the following order of play:
2pm: Ellerstina vs. El Overo Z7 UAE
4,30pm: La Ensenada vs. La Irenita Clinova
Cover photo by Matias Callejo / Prensa AAP.