Argentine Polo Open Final 2017 – The Best Polo In The World
December the 2nd was a date marked in every polo fan’s calendar, as it was the final of the best and most important polo tournament in the world, the Argentine Open, or commonly known as the Palermo Open. It was also a very special day for women in polo as it marked the first final of the Argentine Women’s Polo Open.
The day wasn’t as pretty and sunny as I had hoped for, but was definitely more comfortable for spectators and players. We made our way from Pilar into the city, as the Open matches are all played at the polo fields in the neighbourhood called Palermo, this is why people often refer to the tournament as the Palermo Open. (If you are a newbie to polo check out this post for all the lingo)
We arrived at 2 pm and the grounds were already filling up, all the bars and restaurants had people already enjoying themselves and the stands were full of die-hard fans. The “El Classico” of current polo, Ellerstina vs La Dolfina, was to be played twice that day. First up was the women’s edition of the teams featuring:
Ellerstina: Clara Cassino 6, Hazel Jackson 8, Lía Salvo 9 and Sarah Wiseman 7
La Dolfina Brava: Mia Cambiaso 5, Milagros Fernández Araujo 6, Nina Clarkin 10 and Candelaria Fernández Araujo 6
The girls were on fire, you would think that playing at the cathedral of polo in front of so many people would work up some butterflies and nerves, but they all seemed very focused and played their hearts out.
The first chukker was open and fast, goals were scored and both teams were working hard. The second chukker was the opposite, closed and choppy, but by the third La Dolfina Brava started taking control and Mila scored a goal to finish the first half of the game off ahead. The fourth and fifth chukker belonged to La Dolfina Brava and Ellerstina could not convert a single goal. But with only minutes left of the match, Lía Salvo scored 3 consecutive goals and took the teams into an extra chukker. The crowds roared and the team camps sang and cheered their respective teams on.
The extra chukker saw some failed attempt by the Fernandez Araujo sisters and then a foul was converted into a 30-meter penalty, shot by Nina Clarkin straight through the goal posts and up to the podium for the big trophy.
Once the trophy ceremony for the first Argentine Women’s Polo Open Championship was over it was time to get refreshments, a snack and find our seats. The stands of Palermo field 1 were booming, every seat was occupied, with tickets being sold out already the previous afternoon. Everyone excited to see “El Clasico” of today’s super high goal polo: La Dolfina vs Ellerstina.
With La Dolfina winning the previous 4 years in a row, we all knew this would be a hard one for Ellerstina to pull off, but there was hope and lots of it. La Dolfina had lost in the semifinal of the Hurlingham cup to Alegria, who Ellerstina had beat out in the semis of Palermo. The Pieres boys were in good form and although a bit anxious about the important match, they were hopeful and hungry for the prestigious win.
The marching band came on the field, everyone stood up and took off their hats to sing the national anthem, followed by the team presentations and then it was showtime!
Ellerstina Johor: Pablo (Polito) Pieres 9, Gonzalo Pieres Jr 10, Facundo Pieres 10, Nicolás Pieres 10
La Dolfina Sancor Seguros: Adolfo Cambiaso 10, David (Pelon) Stirling 10, Pablo MacDonough 10, Juan Martin Nero 10.
Ellerstina exploded, the boys were in sync and Polito was on fire (he has since been raised up to 10 goals again, which was not a surprise at all) starting the second chukker with Ellerstina leading by 3 goals! Tiller and I were very excited, as we are Ellerstina fans (fun fact: Tiller and I lived in BA together in 2010, that year Ellerstina won the final of Palermo Open and we witnessed it, without having a clue of what was going on, hehe)
Cambiaso got out his big guns and La Dolfina caught up by the third chukker and got ahead of the boys in black. But the Polito and Facu duo was unstoppable and scored left and right.
The fifth chukker ended equally at 8 a piece, but JuanMa and Pablo got in sync during the 6th chukker, not letting anyone through their La Dolfina defence. By the beginning of the 8th and supposedly final chukker, “La Z” (Ellerstina) was behind by 3 goals and the future was starting to look bleak. But the Pieres’ wouldn’t have it! Polito scored and Facu converted two penalties into goals, the final one with only 30 seconds on the clock. The crowds went wild! The bands played loudly and everyone was up on their feet anxiously waiting to see what would happen next. (A bit of Deja Vu from the previous match we had just watched on field 2)
The extra chukker started and Polito made a run for it, tried to score a goal, but Cambiaso got hold of the ball and in a flash had passed it to Nero, who scored, and just like that La Dolfina became champions of the Palermo Open for the fifth consecutive year.
The trophy ceremony had lots of trophies and prizes, for Best Playing Pony, best clone, best player etc. Juan Martin Nero was awarded MVP of the match, Polito Pieres received the Javier Novillo Astrada trophy for biggest scorer of the tournament, scoring a whopping 38 goals in their 5 matches. Cambiaso’s cloned pony Cuartetera B09 won BPP of the match.
As the excitement from the trophy ceremony calmed down, the party starting to revv up, with several areas to enjoy music and drinks, from the Stella Artois tent, the concert area, the Chandon bar, the Food Garden and the Team Tents, we had a hard time picking a spot! The night continued with several after parties all over BA and Pilar and finally ended with sunrise over the Chapaleufu polo fields at around 5:30 am, much to everyone’s dismay. The end of the after party means the end of the season, which brings a certain melancholy. Already looking forward to next year!!