Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Hurlingham Open, Argentinian branch

The torrential rain of Friday meant the 119th Final of the Hurlingham Open was postponed until the Sunday.
Sunday was dry if not very warm. I met Eddie at the entrance to the Hurlingham club. It is a very nice "English club" with what looks like a decent golf course. The Polo ground doubles up as the practice range but it didn't stop some of the horses over running on to the adjacent part of the course. Not often you get hoof prints in the green. (should that be hoof or hoove?)
The Hurlingham Open is the 2nd best tournament in Argentina which sort of makes it the 2nd best in the world (the biggest being Palermo in December).
It is very much an occasion, as you would expect, with the great & good of Argentina out for the day, corporate hospitality, girls in tight white trousers etc.

The final was between La Dolfina (hcp 40) and Ellerstina (hcp 38). Of the 8 players 6 had the maximum handicap of 10 with two other hackers being "only" on 9. Looking through the glossy brochures 6 of the 8 are in the top 10 in the world with the Number 1 being Adolfo Cambiaso (another winner for the Pub quiz for you)  curiously the No.3 in the World is a chap called David Stirling. Don't get excited it is not an Englishman but a Uruguayan (and certainly not the Lloyd's broker of the same name).  Both were playing for Dolfina.

Clearly this wasn't going to be a knock about in the park on a Sunday afternoon.

They seemed to have brought enough ponies to mount a cavalry regiment - and this is just one teams! There is an equally impressive number of grooms looking after them, the grooms look and dress suspiciously like Gauchos.
The whole match was quite astounding.  Their ability to marry horsemanship with a ball game at incredible speed was just brilliant. I won't give you a match commentary other than to say that La Dolfina team ran out clear winners but it was close up until the 6th Chukka. In case you are interested - A match has 7 x 7 minute Chukkas (or 8 as this was the final). The good thing is there are hardly any rules - the only thing you can not do is cross in front of another horse. Lots of shouting and jeering when this happened with both teams claiming it was the others fault (just like football).

These guys can launch the ball as if they had a 7 iron rather than a mallet in their hands. Not only that, they do it whilst galloping full tilt with another player leaning his horse on to him. Both men and horses take a bit of a beating, one faller and a few broken mallets. It is very exciting to watch especially when 8 thunder past right in front of you.

I tried to take a video but neither that or the pictures are very good. the pictures on the match program are fantastic, showing every muscle, sinew and polo stick stretched to breaking point.

It became clear why there were so many ponies,  they did not just change horses between Chukkas, they would peel off from the game and jump from one pony to another and ride back in to the fray. their feet never touching the ground. 
If I had seen this 20 years ago I would have loved to have tried it and would no doubt now be bankrupt!

When I got back the match was on TV so I watched it again. Like a lot of sports, it just can not convey the sense of speed or energy.

If you get the chance to go to a game I would recommend it but I may have been spoilt by seeing the world greats playing. The knock out stages of the Palermo Open are about to start, so that is my weekends sorted! .........oh and guess which teams are likely to be in that final too.

The other interesting part of my week has been trying to sort out the paperwork for the bike. It appears they entered the wrong chassis number on the temporary import document. For those of you who remember the Post Office fiasco of January - this has very similar traits, with me walking around Buenos Aires in circles.



  1. A couple of features as presented get my vote for the Rear of the Year 2012! I notice that in recent months you seem to have developed a certain fondness for the follow on shot rather than the full frontal of earlier months. Is this a new trend me asks or the realisation of a natural ingrained fetish?

  2. Simple answer is I am too scared to get risk getting caught snapping so cower around the back. Still not a bad view or two