For La Dolfina, the 125th Hurlingham Open final, due to be played on Saturday, will not be just another obstacle on the road towards Palermo glory. Considered one of the greatest teams in polo history, La Dolfina have grown accustom to winning every tournament they play. But it has now been three years since they claimed the Hurlingham Open, the last time being in 2015. This season, however, all four players have made it their mission to stay focused throughout the tournament; they are determined not to let this title slide.
With their sights fixed on winning the Triple Crown once again (the last time was in 2015), Juan Martin Nero, who has played at back for La Dolfina since 2011, shared: “We really worked towards qualifying for the Hurlingham final, and we did everything possible before the game to arrive in good condition: we played good practices, we tried horses, we met with Milo, we watched videos. We really wanted to make the final, and we know we have a good team—that is why we are here today.”
To reach the final, La Dolfina had to surpass Las Monjitas, the team boasting three of the players that left La Dolfina out of last year’s final. But the Cañuelas based organisation managed to control the game, leading an effective attack and dominating throughout. “We were happy with the result because we played well; we set out to play open polo, which is what we do best, and there were moments when we managed to do that,” continues Nero. “I personally was not that happy with my performance; my hit-ins were average and I have to improve a few things. But the team worked well over all. Cambiaso was amazing, as were Pablo and Pelon, so it’s a nice feeling. We have a week to think about the final, but we have to take it day by day.”
Saturday’s clash will be the forty-third match between La Dolfina and Ellerstina, and the ninth time they face each other in the Hurlingham final. After such history, it is hard to imagine what, if any, surprises each team can pull out of the bag to outsmart their rival. “You can more or less imagine how the match will turn out, think of a play, consider the throw-ins, but then all that is left to do is play,” says Nero. “You can’t win the match beforehand. You can sort out a few things, but not much. You just have to play and see what works best on the day. You can’t go crazy during the week leading up to the final, either; it is best to just focus on the horses and reach the final in the best way possible.”
For Juan Martín Nero, this 2018 season is particularly special: He celebrates ten years since he won his first Argentine Open title, and reached the top of the handicap scale. “Let’s hope I play well and don’t get put down,” he laughs. “I’m happy to have reached this point. The last ten years have flown by. It is great being 10 goals, I can’t deny it, but you have to maintain them, and that is the hardest part.”