Bartolomé Castgnola Jr., known as Barto, is the eldest of the Castagnola brothers. At just 20-years old, he has reached a handicap of 10-goals following a spectacular season in Argentina with La Natividad, concluded with the organisation claiming the Argentine Open.
“It is a dream come true,” Barto told to PoloLine after a memorable final against La Dolfina Saudi. “I’m so happy right now, I want to share this with my group of people, my family, with the people who support me every day. We have a huge organisation behind us – the grooms, the vets. The season has been great for us four players at La Natividad. I think the key was that we get on so well. I guess that helped us achieve what we have achieved. I am so happy that I can raise the trophy with my parents, and winning this with my brother, with Polito, and Nachi. We are really good friends. It’s absolutely amazing.”
What was the plan going into the final?
“The idea was to go out there and play the same way we have doing it; hitting the ball, playing intensely, with attitude. That was the key, and fortunately we kept it up during the eight chukkas.”
Intensity and attitude – La Natividad boasts both these qualities, and they will surely grow year on year. This is surely just the first Argentine Open of the many more to come. This project came up in late 2018 following a talk between Lolo Castagnola and Nachi du Plessis, and here are the results – after playing Palermo three years they won the most important title in the world.
Barto was a key player in the final, and he was ultimately presented the MVP Gonzalo Heguy Award by Marcos Heguy and Marcos Di Paola. “Receiving the MVP award in the final is thanks to the team,” says Barto. “Fortunately, I managed to score a few goals. There was a moment that we were not playing that well, and I scored a couple of important goals, but later they made a comeback. We were winning by one with two minutes remaining, but we were able to hold on.”
Barto says he wants to dedicate this victory to someone very special, Mariano Valent, his head groom, who celebrated his birthday on the day of the final. “Mariano works with me, he is my head groom, and it’s his birthday,” says Barto. “He told me – ‘win the Open, that’s the best gift you can give me’. As soon as the match came to an end, I told him – ‘here you go!’ Fortunately, we ended up winning.”
“It’s time to celebrate,” says Barto. “There are always things to improve – our string of horses, our level of play, lots of things. But now it’s time to celebrate.”