With our new friends from Spanish school, Marie-Catherine and Nadine, we went to a polo match yesterday.
Prior to yesterday’s match, my polo experience consisted of one vaguely remembered match in Los Angeles when I was 6 (?), the polo scene in Pretty Woman, and knowledge that two of my heroes, Winston Churchill and David Niven, both played polo.
As Karen’s experience was limited to the Pretty Woman scene, I was the marital expert.
Neither of us had major expectations; we were combining the game with a visit to Tigre, a picturesque little town situated on the Rio De La Plata delta, and were looking forward to a nice excursion, and a day out of Buenos Aires. While we both like BsAs, the city does wear on you: the noise, the traffic, and the pervasive grime raised from the traffic.
After watching the polo match though, I can see how polo could become an obsession. What a beautiful game: gorgeous horses, gorgeous males (from Karen…); speed, very physical, dangerous, tremendous skill.
Last night, and this morning, I spent some time reading up on polo and what we had seen yesterday. As it turns out, one of the reasons the game was so beautiful was that the match we watched was absolute world class.
Handicap ratings range from C (minus 2 goals) – the so-called beginner, to 10-goals – theoretical perfection.
Since the inception of the system in 1890, less than 50 players have ever been awarded a perfect handicap of 10-goals.
With that in mind. let’s take a look at the current World Polo Rankings:
|Pos.||Player (Last name, First name)||Nationality||Points||Status|
|2||Mac Donough, Pablo||Argentina||1015||Professional|
|3||Pieres Jr., Gonzalo||Argentina||1006||Professional|
|4||Nero, Juan Martin||Argentina / Italy||1003||Professional|
|7||Novillo Astrada Jr., Eduardo||United Kingdom / Argentina||652||Professional|
|9||Stirling Jr., David||Uruguay||570||Professional|
And let’s compare that to the players we were watching yesterday.
The players, see picture above, on one of the teams we watched, La Dolfina, are currently ranked 1, 2, 4, and 9. In the world. There are 5 players in the world who currently carry a 10 handicap. 3 of them play on La Dolfina.
The players on the other team in the match, Pilara, aren’t too shabby either: world rankings of: 6, 23, 32, and 33.
No wonder the game was beautiful. Although any subtleties in the game were lost on us, the raw physical nature of the game, especially as the players try to muscle each other off the preferred path, the power and acceleration of the horses, and the speed at which the breakaways take place, is exquisite.
Karen and I have the naturally distressed jeans, and I own a few Ralph Lauren Polo shirts. All we need to fit in better at the next match are a few more minor purchases – an Estancia and a herd of US $100,000 polo “ponies”.