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Everything You Need to Know About the Argentine Polo Championship

i (1)Photo: ESPN Polo

Last weekend was supposed to mark the start of the Argentine Open at Palermo, the pinnacle of the country’s Triple Crown which comprises three tournaments: the Tortugas Open, the Hurlingham Open, and the Argentine Open. Unfortunately, due to Saturday’s bad (check that, horrible) weather, the opening matches were postponed until today.

So what exactly is Polo? Why are these tournaments such a big deal? Who the hell is Adolfo Cambiaso and why is he so damn important? The answers to these questions might require hours of explanations, but here at BubbleAr we’ve decided to give you a quick rundown of the most important tidbits of information about the event that draws attention the world over.

Polo for Dummies

A quick blitz on polo so that you really look like you know your stuff. Now it’s not everything, but it will at least get you started and maybe even impress a couple of friends – especially if they’ve already had a glass of champagne or two. Here we go:

The Basics

  • A polo field typically is 300 yards long by 160 yards wide.
  • You can only play polo with your stick in your right hand for safety reasons (because you know, you’re riding an actual animal while playing, and safety is kind of important).
  • Polo requires with four players on each side, two riding umpires, and a referee (an umpire who is on the side of the field to offer advice to the two on-field umpires if they’re unsure of a decision) and at any given time there will be a maximum of ten horses on the field.
  • Every time a goal is scored, the teams return to the middle of the field, where the umpire will throw in the ball, and the teams swap goals.
  • When the ball goes out of play, it’s dropped five yards in from the boards and given as a free hit to the opposing team to that which hit the ball out. It’s kind of like a throw in, if you’re familiar with soccer.
  • There are eight sections of play in a game, known as chukkas, each chukka lasts for six and a half minutes, however a bell is rung at  the six-minute mark; if the ball exits play at any point, or a foul is blown during the final 30 seconds, the chukka will end.
  • Each player will bring at least one horse per chukka and a maximum of 14, a player can change at any point throughout the game, but the game will continue on without the player.

Juan Martín Nero (La Dolfina) against Ellerstina at the Argentina Open Final 2016 / Photo: La Nación

The Harder Bit

If you think you’ve understood the basics, move onto this next section. But be warned, it may confuse you a little bit:

  • Every time the ball is hit, it creates an imaginary line the whole way up and down the field in the direction in which it’s traveling. This means that if you would like to take the ball from the opposite team, you will have to do it without crossing the imaginary line.
  • Each number has a position on the field, as follows:
    • No. 1 – Striker: normally the best attacking player on the team who is very good at scoring goals, such as Adolfo Cambiaso or Polito Pieres.
    • No. 2 – Engine: the worker of the team, without whom the team would be useless. He will block, steal and do anything for his teammates, as well as score when it suits them.
    • No. 3 – Quarterback: the play-maker, the one who puts the passes in and relies on No.2 to protect him when possible.
    • No. 4 – Gatekeeper: there aren’t any goalkeepers in polo. Instead, the No.4 is responsible for defense; they’ll normally be side by side with their opposition’s No. 1 doing the best they can to stop them from scoring.

If you got all of, that then you should be ready to go!

The 2018 Argentine Open

This edition will see ten teams competing for the world’s most prestigious trophy in the sport. And defending it for the fifth year in a row will be the globe’s greatest player, Adolfo Cambiaso. The main challenge for him and his team, La Dolfina, will be keeping Ellerstina, led by Facundo Pieres, from taking away the crown.

Cambiaso has dominated the world polo circuit since he reached a 10-goal handicap (the highest rating a player can obtain) at the age of 19 in 1994, the same year he won the Triple Crown with Gonzalo Pieres Sr.’s Ellerstina. At the age of 43, Cambiaso continues to pursue the Argentine Open with his very own team, which he co-founded alongside brother-in-law, Bartolomé Castagnola in 2000.

Since its conception, La Dolfina has gone on to win 11 Argentine Opens and even achieved the so-called Triple Triple, which means winning the Triple Crown three years in a row. Cambiaso received Argentina’s highest sporting individual, the Olimpia de Oro in 2014 as a result of his lasting dominance in the sport.

Adolfo Cambiaso celebrates winning the Argentine Open 2016 / Photo: Mauro Alfieri

Ellerstina is now comprised of Gonzalo Pieres Sr.’s family: led by his second oldest son, Facundo, the others being his two brothers, Gonzalo Jr. and Nico, and their cousin, Polito. For the third year in a row, they managed to beat La Dolfina in the Hurlingham Open final, and now appear hungry to seize the momentum and manage to get the trophy they haven’t won in Palermo since 2013.

Ellerstina / Photo via Ellerstina.com.ar

In a recent interview before the Hurlingham Open final, Nico Pieres conceded that “for me, personally, this tournament has always been particularly tough. I am happy, we have won Hurlingham two years in a row, but our goal is Palermo,” he added.

Nico Pieres hitting a neck shot during last year’s Argentine Open final / Photo: Marcelo Bianchi

While the rivalry La Dolfina and Ellerstina will be white-hot, no one can rule out any of the other teams in the Open, especially with the newly founded team Las Monjitas fielding a very strong squad that features two 10-goal players, Guillermo “Sapo” Caset and Hilario Ulloa, as well as 9-goaler Facundo Sola and 8-goaler Santiago Toccolino.

Even though the team is brand new, Sola, Ulloa and Caset have played the Open together for Alegría for the past few years and the three of them have beaten both La Dolfina and Ellerstina on previous occasions.

Las Monjitas Polo team alongside sponsor Camilo Bautista / Photo: Pablo Ramirez

The tournament is held at the La Catedral del Polo, Palermo’s polo grounds, located on Av. del Libertador 4096,, opposite the Hipódromo. While there is no on-site parking, the Hipódromo offers valet. Or you can just take a cab or Uber like the rest of us fellow mortals.

Palermo Ground 1&2 are located on Av. del Libertador 4096 / Photo: Say Hueque

There are various ways of getting tickets, with the Argentine Polo Association recommending Ticketek as the easiest and most direct option. However, websites such as StubHub and ViaGoGo are also offering tickets. If you’re feeling spontaneous, or simply passing by the area, you can always buy tickets at the entrance. They start at AR $450 for any of the group stages for seats in the Dorrego central stands. The first game of the day is always played on Ground 2 at 2 PM, while the second one starts at 4.30 PM on Ground 1.

Note that as the season wears on, tickets to the matches grow harder to come by. The competition heats up and everyone is a little more interested in seeing who will come out on top. If you’re sitting on the Dorrego side of the field, be sure to wear your sunscreen and a hat. You’re guaranteed to get a sunburn if you aren’t careful.

The Fixture

Wednesday 14/11 – Day 1

Alegría–La Irenita vs. La Ensenada

La Aguada vs. La Dolfina Polo Ranch

Thursday 15/11 – Day 2

La Albertina Abu Dhabi vs. La Cañada

Las Monjitas vs. Cría Yatay

Saturday 17/11 – Day 3

La Aguada vs. La Ensenada

La Dolfina vs. La Dolfina Polo Ranch

Sunday 18/11 – Day 4

Las Monjitas vs. La Cañada

Ellerstina vs. Cría Yatay

Saturday 24/11 – Day 5

La Dolfina Polo Ranch vs. La Ensenada

La Dolfina vs. Alegría–La Irenita

Sunday 25/11 – Day 6

Cría Yatay vs. La Cañada

Ellerstina vs. La Albertina Abu Dhabi

Wednesday 28/11 – Day 7

La Dolfina vs. La Ensenada

La Aguada vs. Alegría-La Irenita

Thursday 29/11 – Day 8

Ellerstina vs. La Cañada

Las Monjitas vs. La Albertina Abu Dhabi

Saturday 8/12 – Day 9

Alegría-La Irenita vs. La Dolfina Polo Ranch

La Dolfina vs. La Aguada

Sunday 9/12 – Day 10

La Albertina Abu Dhabi vs. Cría Yatay

Ellerstina vs. Las Monjitas

Saturday 15/12 – Final

TBC vs. TBC


Publicado en Bubble.ar el
2018-11-14 16:59:40

Autor:
Seb Hancock

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