This interesting article about Mariano Aguerre was published in the blog of Wellington The Magazine:
Mariano Aguerre is one of the best polo players of his generation. The Argentine superstar’s résumé is loaded with impressive major championships, highlighted by U.S. Open titles in 2005 with White Birch and in 2014 with Alegria.
Aguerre has also won nine USPA Gold Cup titles and nine Argentine Open championships. His first major titles were in 1987, winning the USPA Gold Cup and the International Open when he was 18 years old playing for White Birch at Palm Beach Polo. His acrobatic style helped White Birch win the 1988 World Cup, and Aguerre was named Most Valuable Player as a 4-goaler.
“I said it before, and I’ll say it again: polo is not what I do, it’s what I am,” said Aguerre, who is still going strong as he approaches his 50th birthday on May 25.
Aguerre returns for another high-goal season in Wellington, anchoring Annabelle Gundlach’s Postage Stamp Farm team during the 22-goal tournaments at the International Polo Club Palm Beach. He is excited about their prospects.
“We have a great organization, and horse-wise, I think we will be up there,” said Aguerre, who achieved a 10-goal handicap in the United States in 1994 and in Argentina in 1998 and kept the sport’s top ranking for nearly two decades. “It’s such a competitive season. Chemistry is going to be the key to succeed.”
Aguerre has been playing at a high level in Wellington for more than 30 years, starting with Peter Brant’s legendary White Birch team as a teenager. A natural left-hander who has to play right-handed because of the sport’s safety rules, Aguerre learned how to play from his father, Martin, and older brother, Martin Jr. Aguerre blossomed under tutoring from icons Hector Barrantes and Gonzalo Pieres Sr. when he joined White Birch, beginning his meteoric rise to 10 goals.
“Mariano is a complete horseman,” Brant said. “His passion for horses extends beyond just excelling at playing polo. He is also a student of breeding and raising and training a horse, and at the same time has acquired an impeccable eye for confirmation and movement of the horse. This gives him an incredible advantage. He has spent a great deal of time studying every aspect of a horse that plays polo at the very top level.”
In addition to his prowess on the field, Aguerre has become a well-respected horse breeder through Los Machitos, which he founded with Australian Nick Manifold and Naco Taverna.
Manifold first met Aguerre in Argentina in 1988 and they became friends when he went to work at White Birch two years later. They started Los Machitos in 1995. Based in Argentina, Los Machitos ponies have played around the world in the sport’s top tournaments.
“I’m very fortunate to have come across him, a great friend and business partner, who helped those around him grow,” said Manifold, who is a 5-goaler. “Being one of the best horsemen, along with his knowledge of the game, led him to be one of the greatest players. Mariano is famous for being continuously well-mounted and always with great organizations behind him.”
While horses are the key to success for any polo player, Aguerre’s immense talent and his aggressive, mercurial style make him a fan favorite.
“Mariano is a very competitive player who at the same time keeps cool while he strategizes his next play,” Brant said. “After the game, Mariano is a sweetheart who doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. He is one of my very closest friends.”
Aguerre hesitated before describing his style of play, but he acknowledged that he enjoys the competition.
“I try to accommodate what the team needs,” said Aguerre, who is currently rated at 8 goals in the U.S. “I’m willing to change things to what the team needs. I enjoy setting up plays more than making goals, probably, so you could say I’m a setup guy.”
While Aguerre has had numerous memorable moments in the U.S. while competing in Wellington during the winter and in Greenwich, Conn., during the summer, he was quick to pick his favorite.
“Winning the U.S. Open with White Birch for the first time [is my favorite],” said Aguerre, who began riding when he was three and started playing in tournaments at age 6 on small ponies in his native Buenos Aires. “It was so hard for us to win it. We lost four finals before we won it. As a team, that’s the most memorable. Being inducted into the Polo Hall of Fame [in 2017] was so great, because of what it means. It’s a personal achievement; I’ve been recognized individually. I’m honored, proud to be a part of it. I’ve been blessed.”
Off the field, Aguerre is quick to smile and to laugh. But he can also be very serious.
“Mariano is a very kind and intelligent person who is a fan of all sports and one of the most competitive people I know,” Manifold said. “He’s an avid hard-lined [Argentine soccer super-power] Boca Junior fan, an aficionado of the arts and has a real passion being a self-taught fly fisherman.”
Aguerre also enjoys golf, and he usually spent Mondays at various local courses earlier in his career. Now married with four children, he doesn’t golf as much. He is married to Tatiana Pieres, daughter of Gonzalo Pieres Sr., and they have three daughters, Sofia, Lola and Carmen, and one son, Antonio.
“Having kids is something. It changes everything, of course,” Aguerre said. “It goes beyond polo. The way of life, the way you put things in perspective. It doesn’t change the way I play, how I focus before games. But off the field, it’s completely different when you have kids.”
Aguerre, like many players, spends most of his day around the horses, whether it’s at the barn, stick-and-balling, playing in a practice or a tournament game, or riding singles. Getting everything ready is what the general public doesn’t see. They see the game, the excitement, the majesty. Aguerre puts in the necessary time to continue to excel at a high level.
“Mariano is first of all a family man,” Brant said. “Along with his lovely partner and wife Tatiana, they have built a great family — a family that the whole polo world should be very proud of.”