It won‘t be the Rugby World Cup – we‘ll be right in the middle of it (it kicks off on the 8th of September ) – but it will be the biggest international French polo tournament ever seen in France: the 23rd Open de France will welcome 18 polo teams from the 1st to the 17th of September!
And that‘s not all: together with the French Polo Federation, the club will also be offering 3 other tournaments during this period: the Trophée du Capitaine des Jeux (level 0-4), the Trophée Castel (6-8) and the Women’s Open de France (women‘s handicap 12-16). In all, some 1400 horses will be housed on the Ferme d‘Apremont site. To accommodate them, 840 demountable stables have been added to the permanent ones. To look after these four-legged athletes, some 250 petiseros (or grooms) will be on hand.
In addition to the 18 Open teams, 32 others will compete in the aforementioned further tournaments, 50 teams in all, or some 200 players (slightly fewer, as some will play several tournaments at a time) representing 15 nations: Argentina, Austria, Belgium, England, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, USA!
Competitors will include 14 of the world‘s top 40, players who qualified for the Argentine Open, including a former winner of this “Wimbledon of polo”, Nico Pieres, and 3 of the top 4 female players, including world No. 1, England‘s Nina Clarkin.
A legendary name in Chantilly
Antonio Heguy will join the Kazak team. This name of Basque origin is more than famous in the world of polo. Antonio is named after his great-grandfather, who was the first of the Heguy dynasty to win the legendary Argentine Open in 1958, alongside his eldest son, Horacio. The current Antonio‘s grandfather, Alberto-Pedro, and his uncle, Horacio, went on to dominate the Argentine Open for over 20 years, losing only four times between 1959 and 1981.
After a short break, the next generation took the reins in 1989 with Horacito, Gonzalo (who died in 2000) and Marcos, with a first victory in Palermo with the Indios Chapaleufù I team before Bautista joined them.
From 1991 to 2004, this generation would lose just five times, alternating with cousins from Indios Chapaleufù II, whose striker was Pepe Heguy, Antonio‘s father, alongside Duardo and Igancio. Incredible „genetics“, since of the fifty or so 10-goalers produced by Argentine polo since the beginning of the 20th century, 9 bore the Heguy name! In 1986, 1992, 1993 and 1995, the Indios Chapaleufù I had a total handicap of 40 goals*, four brothers with a handicap* of 10, a unique fact in the history of the sport! Antonio Heguy, who we will be seeing in Chantilly, is only 20 years old, he is a 5-goaler, and perhaps one day, with his cousins Cruz Heguy and Rufino Bensadon (h7 also present in Chantilly), they will put together another great Indios Chapaleufù team?
But back to Chantilly where some 122 games will be played on the club‘s 8 fields, with occasionally 12 matches a day. All are open access! There will be games every day of the week, as well as festive days, notably on the day of the finals, September 17th, when a village of exhibitors and food-trucks will welcome the general public.
* For the record, the handicap is the value of the player established by the handicap commission of his country. A beginner is rated at -2, while the world‘s top pros are rated at 10. There are currently 7 handicaps 10 in the world, 6 Argentinians and 1 Uruguayan; 14 handicaps 9 and 20 handicaps 8. The two best French players are currently 6-goalers, whereas the brothers Stéphane and Lionel Macaire were 8-goalers in their day (80s-90s). The total handicaps of a team‘s players constitute the team‘s valuation (16 goals for the Open de France).
© RB Presse