Palermo Open Kicks Off – The Highest Ranked Polo Tournament in The World
The Argentine Open, or also commonly called Palermo Open is the highest rated polo tournament in the world. The title of winners of this tournament carries a lot of weight behind it, being an “Open” team handicaps go up to 40 goals, meaning that on some teams all 4 players are at 10 goals (for more polo lingo read here, and for handicaps read here).
Polo fans from everywhere, and I mean literally everywhere, come to this melting pot of cultures with one thing in common, a passion for polo. People come from near and far to watch the greats play their hearts out on the prestigious Palermo Polo fields.
Saturday the 4th of November marked the start of “El Abierto” and I was there, with huge eyes and a lot of excitement. I wanted to take it all in. The atmosphere was absolutely electrifying in that very cool, laid-back Argentinian way. The Argentine Polo Association (AAP) are the hosts and they have put up a grand setup, with the motto: #MasQuePolo with restaurants, champagne bars, lounge areas and entertainment, to keep everyone happy.
There is a variety of food and beverage outlets with something for everyone. The only annoying thing is the new system, none of the outlets will accept cash or card, you need to collect and charge a buying card. The card is free and can be used throughout the tournament, any money left on it you can retrieve. Trying to calculate exactly how much money I will be spending in there this month was scary, but the card can be topped up at any time, so I will stick to that and trick my brain into thinking that I didn’t actually spend that much, haha.
Time for polo!
The first match of the 124th Campeonato Argentino Abierto de Polo HSBC saw a battle between La Irenita and La Esquina. A very even first two chukkers, with strong plays from both teams, in the third chukker La Irenita took the lead by leaps and bounds. La Esquina gave back the same pressure, but not quite enough to beat their opponents, ending in 14-11 in favor of La Irenita.
LA IRENITA: Juan Ruiz Guiñazú (h) 8, Juan M. Zavaleta (h) 8, Clemente Zavaleta (n) 7 y Guillermo Willington 7. Total: 30.
LA ESQUINA: Pascual Sáinz de Vicuña 6, Rodrigo Ribeiro de Andrade 8, Mariano Aguerre 8 y Rodrigo Rueda (h) 7. Total: 29.
You might already know this if you have been around high goal polo, La Irenita is the MacDonough’s breeding and polo farm, the team was formed by Matias MacDonough (Pablo MacDonough’s older brother), but he is injured and therefore not playing Palermo.
The second match was between La Aguada Las Monjitas and La Albertina. The boys in maroon had a very strong start and took the lead immediately and kept it all the way through.
It was looking quite grim for the La Albertina team in the seventh chukker as they were far behind. Then a fight started, there was shouting and name calling and the umpire was not having any of it, blowing his whistle furiously (polo is a gentleman’s sport, foul play and language are not tolerated) a recently introduced rule was used, the umpire sent Alejandro Novillo Astrada out for 2 whole minutes. So the last of the 7th and the start of the 8th chukker the boys in purple had an upper hand playing 4 against 2 and managed to put three points on the scoreboard, closing the gap. But the final score remained in favor of La Aguada and they had a 13-10 victory for their inaugural Palermo match.
LA ALBERTINA: Francisco Elizalde 8, Ignacio Toccalino 8, Santiago Toccalino 8 and Alfredo Cappella 8. Total: 32.
LA AGUADA: Alejandro Novillo Astrada 8, Alfredo Bigatti 7, Miguel Novillo Astrada 8 and Ignacio Novillo Astrada 8. Total: 31.
The La Aguada team has in previous years been a full Novillo Astrada team, with all four players bearing the traditional surname synonymous with polo. This year Eduardo Novillo Astrada has a new role, he is the president of the Argentine Polo Association. Check out the great article and interview C8Polo did with him in the last edition here.
Sunday had more matches for us to enjoy, with the first one being between Cria Yatay Colony and Chapaleufú Cardon. Cria Yatay took and the lead and kept it all the way through with an impressive 18-8 victory.
CRIA YATAY COLONY: Valerio Zubiaurre (h) 7, Cristian Laprida (h) 8, Joaquín Pittaluga 8 and Ignacio Laprida 8. Total: 31.
CHAPALEUFU CARDON: Alberto Heguy (h) 7, Ezequiel Martínez Ferrario 8, Julián de Lusarreta 7 and Eduardo Heguy 8. Total: 30.
Then came the match I had been looking forward to, Alegría vs LD Polo Ranch. To support my new favourite team I wore a bright pink skirt, so basically a team flag. I am an Alegría fan for several reasons:
A. Fred Mannix is a great guy and new friend of mine and I support all my friends
B they are all amazing polo players
C pink is my favorite color (haha, not really a reason, but a good reason to wear pink to the matches)
D when they beat La Dolfina in the Hurlingham semis it showed everyone that they can go into absolute beast mode and I just love an “underdog” story.
They showed their pink power and beat LD Polo Ranch 17-12, always in the lead and maintaining a safe distance. One down, hopefully 3 to go (2 more planned matches and hopefully the final). And then it was time to relax and celebrate in the team tent.
ALEGRÌA LAND ROVER Facundo Sola 8, Hilario Ulloa 10, Guillermo Caset (h) 9 and Frederick Mannix (h) 8. Total: 35.
LA DOLFINA POLO RANCH: Diego Cavanagh 7, Guillermo Terrera (h) 8, Alejo Taranco 7 and Ignatius du Plessis 8. Total: 30.
Stay tuned for more polo fun in Argentina! Make sure to follow me on Instagram, where most of the action is shown straight away.