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130th Argentine Open: Where do things stand?

© RB Presse

This Saturday and Sunday, the semi-finals of the season’s most prestigious polo tournament, the Argentine Open, will take place. For the first time in a while, a quick survey of the Argentine polo scene reveals that no one can make a firm, definitive prediction.

Four teams remain in contention: the defending champions La Dolfina Saudi, featuring Cambiaso father and son; the 2021 edition winners, the reformed La Natividad; the newcomer, Hilario Ulloa’s La Hache La Roca; and the disruptive force, La Ensenada Brubank. This time, neither match is a foregone conclusion, and the same holds true for the final on December 2, which will be played in front of 18,000 spectators. La Dolfina Saudi is likely to face the formidable La Hache, finalists in Hurlingham and Tortugas, and the overall leaders in the Triple Corona. However, the result of the Hurlingham final tips in La Dolfina’s favor.

The other semi-final isn’t a sure bet for La Natividad either. Lolo Castagnola, father of Jeta (the Open’s top scorer so far with 25 goals) and Barto, cautions about the upcoming final: “There’s still a semi-final next Saturday against La Ensenada, and with them, nothing is certain, so I remain cautious.” La Ensenada, known for their upsets in the Triple Corona, haven’t pulled one off this year yet. But in Tortugas, they were defeated by La Natividad (10-14). This season, every team has beaten every other at some point, and the match is expected to be tight among the three heavyweights, who enter the field with 40 goals (La Dolfina), 39 goals (La Natividad), and 36 goals (La Hache).

Also interesting is the battle for survival at the bottom of the rankings. For La Esquina, of the Laprida brothers, relegation seems inevitable. La Irenita Clinova, the Fernandez Llorente brothers, can still save themselves if they manage to beat Ellerstina on Sunday. This year, without Facundo Pieres (now at La Natividad), Ellerstina has been a pale shadow of its former self. It’s sad to witness such a decline for a team that hosted – and sometimes won – so many finals in previous decades, including unforgettable classics against La Dolfina.

La Hache Cria (B team) will control their own destiny against La Esquina, while the young and engaging El Overo Z7 team will have their fate determined passively, as they are exempt from this final round.

The weekend’s games:

Saturday – Field 2 at 14:00

La Hache Cría y Polo: Rufino Bensadón 8, Carlos M. Ulloa 7, Facundo Sola 8, and Joaquín Pittaluga 8. Total: 31.

La Esquina La Mascota: Pascual Sáinz de Vicuña 6, Juan Zubiaurre 6, Magoo Laprida 8, and Iñaki Laprida 8. Total: 28.

Field 1 at 16:30

La Dolfina Saudi: Adolfo Cambiaso 10, Pelon Stirling 10, Poroto Cambiaso 10, and Juan M. Nero 10. Total: 40.

La Hache La Roca: Polito Pieres 9, Hilario Ulloa 9, Sapo Caset 9, and Fran Elizalde 9. Total: 36.

Sunday – Field 2 – 14:00

Ellerstina Yellow Rose: Bautista Bayugar 8, Gonzalito Pieres 9, Nicolás Pieres 9, and Nachi du Plessis 9. Total: 35.

La Irenita Clinova: Facundo Fernández Llorente 8, Tomás Fernández Llorente 8, Matías Torres Zavaleta 8, and Isidro Strada 8. Total: 32.

Field 1 – 16:30

La Natividad: Facundo Pieres 9, Jeta Castagnola 10, Pablo Mac Donough 10, and Barto Castagnola 10. Total: 39.

La Ensenada Brubank: Juan Britos 9, Alfredo Bigatti 9, Juan M. Zubía 9, and Jeró del Carril 8. Total: 35.

Standings ahead of the final two rounds.

The bottom two in the standings will exit the Open 2024, while the

8th-placed team will face a playoff match against the Copa Camara winners.

With only 5 matches left to play in the 130th HSBC Argentine Open Polo, here are the points each team has accumulated for the 2023 Triple Corona Ranking.

By: Pascal Renauldon
Photos: RB Presse

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