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Argentine Open Polo Championship Palermo Buenos Aires + La Dolfina

Campeonato Argentino Albierto de Polo 2017

The Campeonato Argentino Abierto de Polo (Argentine Open Polo Championship) is to polo what the World Series is to baseball. Quite simply it’s the single most important international polo event on the planet. Cue the jetset. Held every year since 1893 at the historic Campo Argentino de Polo of Palermo, popularly referred to as the Cathedral of Polo, the Open Championship welcomes some of the world’s greatest equestrian athletes.

Today it’s 33 degrees Celsius and being an exclusive midweek match (a recent intervention), family and friends only. And us. Not only is this event important to the sporting community, it’s one of the hottest social tickets in Buenos Aires. Later, the fashionable restaurants of Palermo will be thronged. The British Telegraph calls the Argentine Open “polo’s pinnacle”. Ezekiel Parablas, himself a champion polo player and proud Porteño, is our English speaking guide. So who’s playing? La Dolfina against La Albertina. Get ready for the thunderous thud of hooves.

“This polo tournament is the most competitive in the world. Not in Argentina, the world! There are 10 teams in the tournament. Competitive polo playing follows spring season round the world. That way you can practise the whole year. It’s all very sociable!”

“The perfect team handicap is 40. An individual player’s handicap ranges from zero to 10 with 10 being the best. There are players at the highest level in Argentina, England and the US but nowhere else. Polo is the hobby of ‘patróns’ who fund the sport. The money is in breeding, training and selling the horses. All you receive when you win a match is a handshake – from the Queen if you’re lucky!”

“This match is at a really really high level. So you’ve got four versus four players and one sub on either team. There are two yellow jacketed referees on horses. There will be around 160 horses between the two teams. That’s 20 horses per player. The horses are all pure Argentinian pedigree. The field has to be perfect. After each goal teams switch sides of the field.”

“There are five to eight ‘periods’ per match. A period lasts six and a half minutes of real playing time. It’s a very dangerous sport! The horses are travelling at 60 to 70 kilometres per hour. Polo is very physical, like ice hockey. The British Royals play for charity – they’re not professionals. When passing the ball to Prince Charles we’re very kind and you have to say ‘Please sir’. This match will start soon. We do everything late! Everything in Buenos Aires starts late!”

“Polo horses have very pronounced tendons in their legs. They’re like the best girls: beautiful faces and big asses! Most of the horses playing are clones. Look at the scoreboard – the horse’s head beside any horse’s name means they’re cloned. All four of La Dolfina’s horses playing now are clones! Dolfina B04 C Clon 4; Dolfina Polemica; Irenita Acertada; and Vasca Harrods.”

“A polo field is the size of six football pitches. An underlay of sand keeps the grass bouncy. There’s only one match per day on the field. The match continues when players have to change horses, unless they’re hurt.  Look how they pass the ball so perfectly. The speed is always amazing!”

At the half time interval TV screens broadcast a six year old, an Adolfo Cambiaso in the making. “The fun part of polo is having fun,” he declares. The final score? La Dolfina 22: La Albertina 6.

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