The coveted Argentine Triple Crown is due to begin on Tuesday September 26, and the 2023 edition of the most important polo trophy worldwide brings many news. Perhaps the most important is the order of play of the three tournaments. Historically, the Triple Crown started with the Tortugas Open, but instead, the 130th. Hurlingham Open (September 26-October 7) will open fire, followed by the 83rd. Tortugas Open (October 10-28). This change has been agreed between the AAP, the Tortugas Country Club and the Hurlingham Club, in order to preserve the grounds of the AAP Headquarters, in Pilar, where several games and tourmanents are played thoroghout the season.
With regards to the format of the 130th. Hurlingham Open for the Ayshire Cup, that will see eight teams in participation, it will be played on single elimination, starting with the quarter finals: the winners will advance to the semifinals, while the losers will play for the Subsidiary Drysdale Cup. The first games are due at the AAP Headquarters, in Pilar; the semifinals will take place at Palermo; and the eight-chukka final, will be played at the Hurlingham Club.
Meanwhile, the 83rd. Tortugas Open will also see eight teams, split in two leagues, and will be played entirely at Tortugas Country Club. Each league winner will clash in the final, which will be played at eight chukkas as well. It is worth to note that the leagues of the Tortugas Open will be set following the results of the Hurlingham Open.
The Triple Crown will come to an end with the much awaited 130th. Argentine Polo Open, that will run through October 31 to December 2, and will see ten teams, compete; the eight highest rated lineups will be joined by the two that will emerge from the Classification. Teams will be split in two leagues composed by five teams each, and the league winners will go head-to-head for the most remarkable trophy of the year. The two first matchdates will take place at the AAP Headquarters in Pilar, and the remaining games are set to be played in the Cathedral, Palermo.
According to the draw that was conducted on Monday September 11, the leagues of the upcoming Argentine Open have been set as follows:
La Dolfina Saudi
La Hache Polo Team
Cría La Dolfina
La Hache Cría & Polo
Qualifier nr. 2
La Irenita Clinova
Qualifier nr. 1
Another news is that after six years, games will be played seven minutes per chukka again, with 30 additional seconds. It is worth noting that in 2017 the playing time in Argentina was reduced to six minutes and a half, with 30 additional seconds, per chukka.
With regards to the teams, there are several significant changes this year. Only two teams have remained with the same lineups: La Dolfina, the current Argentine Open reigning champions, will have Adolfo Cambiaso, David Stirling, Poroto Cambiaso and Juan Martin Nero, in which perhaps will be the last Triple Crown that will see the father and son duo playing together. The second team of the Cañuelas-based organisation, Cria La Dolfina, will bring the same foursome as well – Guillermo Terrera, Tomás Panelo, Diego Cavanagh and Alejo Taranco.
The second top seeded is La Natividad, runner up of the Argentine Open last year and winners in 2021. The Cañuelas-based foursome brings perhaps the most significant changes within their lineup. The Castagnola brothers, Bartolomé Jr. and Camilo will be joined by no less than Pablo MacDonough and Facundo Pieres, with the latter having left Ellerstina. Gonzalito and Nicolás Pieres remain with the Pieres’ family team, and hired the young rising star Bautista Bayugar, who delivered a remarkable performance with La Irenita Clinova last year, and South Africa’s Nachi du Plessis, who has been a member of La Natividad until last year. It is worth to note that Nachi claimed Palermo with them, in that glorious 2021, and played his first Argentine Open final ever in 2014, precisely with Ellerstina, on a very hot day and wearing a particular purple jersey.
Another big news concerning this Triple Crown is La Hache, Hilario Ulloa’s organisation, who will bring two teams: La Hache Polo Team, composed by Hilario Ulloa, Polito Pieres, Guillermo Caset and Francisco Elizalde; and La Hache Cría & Polo, who secured a spot in the Triple Crown, after defeating Nuestra Tierra in the playoff late in 2022. The lineup will feature Tito Ruiz Guiñazú, Carlos María Ulloa, Facundo Sola and Joaquín Pittaluga. It is worth to note that Polito Pieres won’t be playing in La Hache Polo Team’s debut due to an injury in one of his hands, and will be subbed in by Rufino Bensadon.
La Ensenada, an attractive 35-goal foursome, is back on the saddle, with the talented Juan Britos, Alfredo Bigatti, Juan Martín Zubía and Jerónimo del Carril. And last but not least, La Irenita Clinova completes the main draw, with a lineup that brings Facundo Fernández Llorente, Tomás Fernández Llorente, Matías Torres Zavaleta – who won’t be playing in their debut against La Dolfina Saudi and will be subbed in by Benjamin Urquiza – and Isidro Strada
Meanwhile, the classification will present a record of nine teams in participation: Alegría, Nuestra Tierra, Cañuelas, La Esquina, La Irenita II, Don Ercole, El Overo Z7 UAE, La Fija y La Cañada LE.
So everything is set and ready for action. and a new Triple Crown is about to start with the two first matchdates of the 130th. Hurlingham Open, to be played in Pilar, as follows:
Tuesday September 26:
1,30pm: La Dolfina Saudi vs La Irenita Clinova
4pm: Ellerstina Yellow Rose vs Cría La Dolfina
Wednesday September 27:
1,30pm: La Natividad vs La Hache Cría & Polo
4pm: La Hache Polo Team vs La Ensenada
Cover photo: Adolfo Cambiaso and is son, Poroto, winners of the Hurlingham Open in 2022, by Matias Callejo.