Gonzalo Pieres Jr is writing a diary for hurlinghampolo.com as he prepares for the upcoming Argentine polo season. Here is Gonzalo’s first entry…
Summer season in Europe…
Overall,I think it was a good summer although notperhaps as good as last year. This year, we reached the Semi-Finals of the Queen’s Cup but unfortunately we didn’t progress any further. Personally, while I think we had a satisfactory season, I also think we can do better so we’ll make sure we work harder next year.
I played for the same team this year again, La Bamba de Areco, and took part in two tournaments in England; the Queen’s Cup at Guard’sPolo Club and the Gold Cup at Cowdray Park Polo Club. My favourite between the two is definitely the Gold Cup, which we won last year. I consider it to be more important than the Queen’s Cup, but I know alot of other players consider them to be equal in terms of importance. I think there is a wonderful atmosphere as the event attracts big crowds and it has well-maintained fields which are greatto play on.
Everytime I play, I play to win, so I was definitely a little bit disappointed that we didn’t go any further than the Semi-Finalsthis year. But then again, it’s not too bad to reach the Semi-Finals when you’re competing against 20 other teams. If you look at all the players this year, I think Adolfo Cambiaso has played exceptionally well – he was part of the teams which won the Queen’s Cup, the British Open and the US Open – so I think it was definitely his season. In Argentina this year, he will be the one to beat. When Adolfo plays in Argentina, he plays for La Dolfina and we (Ellerstina) have played against them in the last three Finals of the Argentine Open so hopefully this year, we can reach the Final againand win.
Update on my ponies…
I don’t have any new polo ponies yet and I’m still playing with the same ones as last year. At our breeding farm, we have a few young ones coming through with a lot of potential, which is very exciting, but at the moment, there are about six ponies on my list that I prefer to play with and I’m really comfortable with them.
I will continue to play with them throughout the Argentine Polo seasonand then, after the Argentine Open in December, I will decide whether I will take any to the United States or to England, or whether I gowith a new selection.
We do breed a lot of ponies when we’re not playing – I think we have 1000 horses in total – but every year, we have more or less 100 which have the potential to go further. It is a large group of horses butthey aren’t just for me! I am one of three brothers (Facundo andNico) so we split them evenly between us.
Training for polo matches…
When I’m training, I’m usually at the stables before 9:00am where I meet with the groom and discuss the afternoon’s programme. In the afternoon, I will either ride the ponies or practise with the rest of the team, which we then follow with some sort of physical work-out with our personal trainer.We go running a lot, in fact, we try to run every day and then we’ll do weights as well. We always try to train after our riding programme so that we can stretch out our bodies. Not only does this benefit ourplaying, but it also helps us sleep better.
In the lead-up to a tournament we do change our training regime a bit. Once we’ve received the exact dates for the match, we will have more intense work-outs but then, about a week before, we will start doing less weights and more cardio. It’s more important at that stage to be fit as opposed to gaining muscle.
Schedule in Argentina…
I won’t play in a tournament until the end of September when I’ll be preparing for the Tortugas Open – that will be the first of the three competitions I’ll play in Argentina (the Tortugas Open, the Hurlingham Open and the Argentine Open). I don’t actually play in that many matches as I can luckily be quite selective and only playin the ones that I like.
The most important onefor me, and probably for everyone else, will be the Argentine Open.This is by far my favourite tournament – not just here in Argentina but all over the world. If I had to pick just one event to play infor the rest of my life, it would be the Argentine Open.
I think it’s special because it’s the oldest tournament and it’sthe one that everyone wants to win. If you win the Argentine Open, you’ve really achieved something great. You get to play with the highest handicap that you can, meaning that the teams are the strongest and most competitive. My team (Ellerstina), for example,has a 40-goal handicap which is the best you can get. So, if you win here, it means that your team really is the best in the world.
Renowned Polo player, Gonzalo Pieres Jr, is a 10-goal handicapper and a Rolex Testimonee