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Two of the most outstanding players of the polo season in Sotogrande, were presented with the MVP Awards of the Month of the World Polo Tour, as Professional and Amateur. They are Alejo Taranco and Robert Strom, respectively. Alejo Taranco, who had a fantastic international career thoroghout 2012, winner of the high goal Gold Cup in Sotogrande, with Lechuza Caracas, was awarded as the Professional MVP. Young Frenchman, Robert Strom, won the Casablanca Award as the MVP Amateur of the Month, after playing the final of the medium goal Gold Cup, in Sotogrande, with Sainte Mesme. Jejo and Robert talked to PoloLine, to tell a few things about their experiences and their plans for the near future. ALEJO TARANCO - PROFESSIONAL MVP AWARD by Alejandra Ocampos What's your balance of your 2012 international polo season? It was very good, incredible!!! I wish I could repeat next year, but I see it a bit difficult. I've really had some good opportunities, and everything went really good since early in the year, when I got a call from Valiente to play in Palm Beach with Adolfo Cambiaso and Pelon Stirling. And we won the USPA Gold Cup. Then, I got a call from Jim Gilmore to play for Ellerston in Sotogrande, with Facu Pieres and Santi Stirling, but it didn't work due to Jamie Packer's compromises in Australia. So, 15 days before the start of the season in Sotogrande, Juanma Nero called me to see if I was available to play in Lechuza as a replacement for Martín Espain. And now here I am, playing the Open de France, with great people as the Stroms and Christian Nordheimer How about the experience to have played with three Palermo champions, like Cambiaso, Nero and Stirling? Absolutely great!!!! It's a kid's dream. I've never imagined I would be playing with them. Despite we're cousins with Pelon and grew up together, we never had the chance to play together that much in the last years; I guess it was only the Diamond Cup, and that's all. In Argentina, it's already five years I'm settled at Adolfo Cambiaso's La Dolfina, and we play many practices, but the first tournament I played with him was the Jockey Club Open last year, which we won. Regarding Juanma Nero, the first time I've played with him was in the latest season in Sotogrande. All of them are really great as team mates. They make polo very easy to play, very simple. They show you some important plays, and the rest, leave it for the rest!!!! (laughs) I've never played with Pablo, but I imagine it's the same as the other three. How did it come your chance to play with Lechuza Caracas in Sotogrande? As I told you, I got a call from Juanma Nero to fill in for Martín Espain. I was in Sotogrande with Martin's brother, Nicolás, and unfortunately, Martín was not doing good with his knee injury, so he couldn't make it to the season. After I talked to Juanma, I asked Ayala's Iñigo Zobel for permission to play (I work with Iñigo's organization in Sotogrande). He agreed, so I had only 15 days to organize my horses, grooms. Fortunately, everything went really good!!!! So, Pelon, you and eventually Santiago Stirling are doing very well in polo. How do you feel this is doing for polo in Uruguay? How about the polo scene in Uruguay regarding players, horses, etc? Well, it's not about what either Santi or me are doing, it's mostly about Pelon's career in Argentina, as it is the closest place Uruguay's people have to see polo. It was incredible in the Palermo final last year, loads of people went from Uruguay to Buenos Aires to cheer Pelon in the final. Actually, polo in Uruguay is a hobby, something to do on Saturday evenings on Sunday morning. The rest of the week everybody go to work. And the few people that have polo as a profession had to go overseas and try to get a good organization to play in Buenos Aires. However, I see organizations are improving, people are more interested about playing and organize tournaments, and probably polo it's more played now in Uruguay than a couple of years ago. There are also some improvements on fields, horses, etc... Plus, there are many players that take polo more seriously, and do some little business by making and selling horses, Every now and then, there are a couple of good mares as well... What are your plans for the near future? Are you playing in Argentina next? I haven't made any plans to play in the Argentine season. I will be settled at La Dolfina, as usual. I plan to play the Diamond Cup, and once I stay there, I'll probably play some more, the Camara de Diputados, for instance. Besides, I play the Copa Provincia de Buenos Aires, every year, and I guess I will be playing somehting else. How about being the Professional MVP of the Month? I've never imagined I would be named MVP of the month!!! It's a nice recongnition, I have to enjoy it right now, because I see it difficult to repeat!!!! (laughs) ROBERT STROM - CASABLANCA AWARD MVP AMATEUR by Alejandra Ocampos How and where did you start to play polo? My grand father Robert de Balkany used to played a lot until 20 years ago then he gave the passion to my father Birger. I started riding ponies very young in Sainte Mesme close to Paris and played my first tournament with my father when I was 10 , a great memory. Where have you developed your career as a player mostly? I mostly played in France, on the field of the Polo de Paris but also in the club of Chantilly, we play 10 and 12 goals tournament there and the 16 goal in september. Then during the winter I try to travel as much as I can to Argentina when I have free time in the University to play in Pilar How was the experience to play in Sotogrande? Was it your first time there? This year was the the third time we came to Sotogrande, it's always a great pleasure to play there, they have the best field in Europe by far and the polo is very competitive. The good fields makes the game very fast and open, everything is well organized and the weather is perfect so it's always a good thing for us to go and play there Why did Sainte Mesme choose to play only the medium goal Gold Cup? The season is very long for the horses, they've been playing the all month of may june and half of july, and we are playing the 16 goal now in september at one point we have to make a choice to give a small break to the horses during the season. Not playing the copa de bronce y plata also let us give some rest to the horses after the trip from Paris and gives us some time to play practices before starting the tournament. Which is or are your biggest achievement in polo up to date? The highest tournaments I won was in Argentina last year. We won the 20-goals Copa Honor and the 18-goals Copa Sojo; it was a great season. Then in France we won the Open de France in 2009, and I won the European Championship with France in 2010 a great memory. What can you tell us about polo in France? How is the sport developing there, regarding players and horses? Polo in France keeps on improving, The polo club de Chantilly is giving a great impulse to the sport, a lot of young kids are starting playing there. The number of people with polo license is increasing and more and more people are becoming familiar with this sport. Regarding the horses the good teams playing medium goal and high goal keep improving there strings of horses by bringing new ones every year from Argentina. But for the rest i think the mentality hasn't changed yet, they see other priorities before investing into logical polo horses. As for the breeding of horses it is still very uncommon in France unfortunately Are you coming to play to Argentina following the Open de France? I would love to go to Argentina after the Open the France but I'm starting university again after this tournament so I wont be able to play the all season there. I will try to manage to go a few weeks during the winter to play one or two tournaments there, probably the Polo Tour of Palermo. How does it feel to have been named the Amateur MVP of the Month? It's a great feeling ! I will have to justify it in the next tournament now ! Haha ! It is sincerely a great honor, my horses were going well during the tournament and I was feeling good, I'm really happy about it although we didn't make it in the final. Thank you.