Along the Sideboards

Along the Sideboards

By Alex Webbe

November 30, 2009


The rains continue to delay the playing of the Argentine Open as La Dolfina snuck past a reorganized Chapa Uno team 15-14 in sudden death overtime.  In the earlier match La Aguada hammered El Paraiso 1-7-8 with Nacho Novillo Astrada and Javier Novillo Astrada scoring six goals apiece in the win.

Adolfito Cambiaso scored eight goals, with one of them, a penalty shot, came in overtime as La Dolfina (2-0) dodged a bullet and got by Chapa Uno (0-2) 15-14 in extra time.

The other two second round matches have been postponed until Wednesday when Ellerstina (1-0) faces Chapa II (0-1) while Pilara (1-0) meets Alegria (0-1).  Both matches are scheduled to be played at 2:30 PM.


To me one of the biggest stories of the season is the return to high-goal Argentine polo of Javier Novillo Astrada.  Not only am I impressed with his return to the field after he was forced to retire from the field this summer due to a brain tumor, but the level at which he returned is certainly awe inspiring.  Following an 0-2 record in the Tortugas Open, Javier and his brothers went 3-0 in the Hurlingham Open before losing in the finals to Ellerstina 14-12.  Javier was named tournament MVP.


Teams are nearly set for the winter season at the International Polo Club Palm Beach with ten 20-goal teams competing in the club’s early tournaments while nine teams at the 26-goal level will compete in the C. V. Whitney Cup, the USPA Piaget Gold Cup and the US Open Championship.


Marc Ganzi and two of the Pieres Brothers (Gonzalito and Facundo) will return on the Audi to defend its 2009 US Open title.  Five-goaler Inaki Laprida will be replacing Nicolas Pieres, whose handicap elevated him out of the competition.


Eight 10-goalers will be taking the field in the course of the 2010 winter season at the International Polo Club with Mariano Aguerre playing with Fred Mannix and his Millerville team in 20-goal play while Gonzalito Pieres (Audi), Facundo Pieres (Audi), Adolfo Cambiaso (Crab Orchard), Lolo Castagnola (Grand Champions), Eduardo Novillo Astrada (Las Monjitas), Juan Martin Nero (Lechuza Caracas) and Pablo MacDonough (Orchard Hill) will saddle up for the 26-goal tournaments.


For the first time this season, the International Polo Club will be offering both 8-goal and 14-goal monthly tournament play.  Currently there are twelve teams signed up to compete at the 14-goal level and another six competing in 8-goal competition.


Nieghboring Gulfstream Polo Club is rattling its sabres to let everyone know that it’s still alive.  Stressing club polo, Guifstream is inviting players of all handicap levels to practice and play with them on a game by game basis.  Gulfstream is addressing the current economy by offering practice fees only as well as full memberships.  Gulfstream is also offering FREE Saturday 4-goal/4-chukker play.


Steve Orthwein’s Port Mayaca Polo Club in neighboring Martin County will kick of the season with a Holiday Tournament before moving forward with a series of 10-18-goal tournaments and match cup play.


Additionally, the Hobe Sound Polo Club is hoping that Phil Heatly will be able to work his magic by recreating the Outback Polo League at the Martin county facility.  By slashing prices, Hobe Sound is hoping to lure enough of the old Outback regulars to make the hour-long drive north versus the comfort of rolling out of bed and being on the field in ten minutes.


Piaget will be making a big splash in Aspen, Colorado. December 17-20, when it sponsors the 10th Annual World Snow Polo Championship, “Polo on the Snow”.  Currently six teams have been announced for the event that will include Nacho Figueras, Kris Kampsen, Luis Escobar and others.


Finally, is there anyone in the world who isn’t aware of the polo connections of the world’s most famous gate crashers-Tareq and Michaele Salahi?  Questionable credentials and a penchant for dealing on the shadier side of the street have made people like Major Mark Cann of the British Forces Foundation run from him at the very mention of a joint project. 


Will this turn into a polo-reality TV series?  I doubt it, but in the world of polo you never know.