On Monday September 11, the polo community received with great sadness the news of the passing of Juan Carlos Harriott, the much beloved Juancarlitos, Juancar. The man who won the Argentine Polo Open no less than 20 times, most than anyone else, and considered one of the greatest players in history, was 86-years-old and left an indeleble mark in polo alongside his club, Coronel Suarez, mostly as a member of a legendary foursome fondly remembered for their unforgettable clashes against another legendary lineup, Santa Ana, during the 60s and 70s, renowned as the second derby of the sport after El Trébol and Venado Tuerto, in the 40s and 50s. That lineup was composed by Juancarlitos, his brother Alfredo, Horacio and Alberto Pedro Heguy.
Born on October 28 1936, in Coronel Suarez, the son of Juan Carlos Harriott and Elvira de Lusarreta, he used to say that he was a true polo fan, a sport that was already played in Coronel Suarez, since the foundation of the namesake club, in 1929. He obtained a handicap of 1 in 1953, and from then onwards, he kept going further. In 1957, he started to play with his father, who always told him that he had to learn from the best. And the best in those days were the Alberdis, the Garros, among many others.
He won the Argentine Open with his father seven times, that included a remarkable achievement: in 1958 the Harriotts were joined by another father and son duo, Antonio and his son Horacio. Up-to-date, they still remain as the one and only lineup composed by fathers and sons to have won the most important tournament of the world. Years later, and following the retirement of the two fathers, Juan Carlos Harriott and Antonio Heguy, a new version of Coronel Suarez emerged, the lineup that was destined to make history, and to many, the best of all times. The father-son duo was replaced by two pair of brothres, who left a mark in the sport in 1974, when they became the first ever team in history to reach the perfect handicap, 40 goals. The quality of these four players was such, that they became Argentina national team, who played the Americas Cup against the United States, a tournament that Juan Carlos Harriott claimed four times: 1966, 1969, 1979 y 1980
In addition, his won the Tortugas Open (7), the Hurlingham Open (15), as well as the Triple Crown (1972, 1974, 1975 and 1977). In Sotogrande, he won the Gold Cup in 1975 and 1976, with Villafranca.
According to those who had the opportunity to play with him, Juan Carlos Harriott was a “team player”, and the master of the backhander, a powerful back shot that inspired another great Argentine sportstman, tennis star Guillermo Vilas, to create one of his most famous plays, the “Gran Willy”, a stroke where the ball is striked with the racquet between the legs
He also was honoured with many awards. He was the very first polo player to earn the Golden Olympia, in 1976, as the best sportsman of the year in Argentina; five Silver Olympia as the polo player of the year, the Platinum Konex Award in 1980 and he was inducted in the Polo Hall of Fame in the US, in 2015. One of the latest tributes during his lifetime, was a statue, set in his hometown, Coronel Suarez, and the club’s main field has been named after him.
But in addition to his remarkable achievements as a polo player and his eternal legacy, Juancarlitos Harriott will always be remembered as a simple, humble and generous man, who had enormous respect for his opponents. A man with values and principles, praised by his friends and colleagues, who always cherished and loved him.
All of us at PoloLine wish to send our heartfelt condolences and love, and we embrace the whole Harriott family and his beloved Coronel Suarez. May the Lord give peace and comfort to them.
Farewell, dearest Juancarlitos! Thank you for absolutely everything! Your legend and legacy will live on forever.