The Best Polo Tournaments to Watch in Argentina 2023
Spring is here! And that means one thing in the polo calendar. The start of the 2023 Argentine Polo Triple Crown is imminent. To make the most of each match, it’s important to review the basics of what’s about to happen.
In 2023, The Argentine Polo Triple Crown arrives with several changes to teams, game rules, tournament structure, and even an alteration in the historical order of the tournaments in the calendar!
So let’s quickly review the big changes which we’ll analyse in this article:
- The 2023 Argentine Polo Triple Crown will start with the Hurlingham Open.
- Tortugas Open will be the second stop of this series, and its final will have 8 chukkers.
- Palermo Open will have 10 teams and start in the last week of October.
- Facundo Pieres leaves Ellerstina. It will be his first Triple Crown playing for a different team.
- Pablo MacDonough moves to La Natividad. He will join forces with Facundo Pieres and the Castagnola brothers.
- Murus Sanctus will not participate this year.
- La Hache brings a new lineup with H. Ulloa, Caset, Elizalde and Polito Pieres
What is the Argentine Polo Triple Crown?
Recently declared of national interest, the Argentine Polo Triple Crown is the world’s most prestigious series of polo tournaments. Every year it takes place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, between late September and early to mid-December. In 2023, the start is on September 26th and the last date is December 2nd.
The best polo players of the world play these tournaments. Most of them are Argentine but South Africans, Chileans, Uruguayans, Brazilians, Americans, British, Canadians, and Australians also take part.
The change of order of the 2023 Argentine Polo Triple Crown and other modifications to their structure:
This year in an attempt to further improve the performance of fields and the safety of the players and their horses, the order of the tournaments will change for the first time in almost 100 years. This year 2023 the Argentine Polo Triple Crown will start with Hurlingham Open. Tortugas Open will be played second and the closing tournament will be, as always, Palermo.
For many decades the order of the three tournaments that together make up the Argentine Polo Triple Crown has been the same. First teams played Tortugas, then Hurlingham, and finally Palermo.
However, in recent years the quality of the fields in Tortugas and Hurlingham did not keep up with the massive improvement in the quality of the AAP (Argentine Polo Association) grounds in Pilar.
The latter meant that the players started lobbying to play more in Pilar or in Palermo and not so much in Tortugas or even Hurlingham. Tortugas Open was the first of these two to have some games moved to a different location in previous years.
Soon followed Hurlingham, with most of the games now played in the AAP grounds in Pilar. The finals of these tournaments are always played at their home clubs as a compromise and to respect the tradition of what the Triple Crown means to polo today.
Apparently, the fields in Tortugas need more hours of sun to dry properly due to the nature of their soil and that they are surrounded by big trees and massive houses. Hurlingham’s number 1 field is less protected from the wind and so can dry quicker even in cloudy conditions.
All of these are the reasons behind this unusual change to the calendar order of the most prestigious and competitive polo tournaments in the world.
The new teams of the 2023 Argentine Polo Triple Crown and their ambitions
Ah! The new teams… The rules to participate in the Triple Crown are rather simple: in order to be eligible, the sum of the handicap of players in the team must add up to 28 goals or more, and all players must be at least 6 goals of handicap or more.
Of all of the teams that meet those criteria and sign up, the eight lineups with the highest handicap qualify directly to play all three tournaments of the Triple Crown.
But what about the other teams that are also 28+ goals of handicap?
They can participate in the classification round to the 9th and 10th vacant spots in the Palermo Open, the last and most prestigious stop of the Triple Crown, which indeed gets played in Palermo in Buenos Aires City.
All of this means that, indeed, there can be new teams signed up for all three tournaments of the Triple Crown, so long as they have all players of 6 or more goals and that they are within the 8 teams with the highest combined handicap.
The 8 confirmed teams of the 2023 Argentine Polo Triple Crown are:
1. La Dolfina
2022 Hurlingham and Palermo champions led by the known to be best active player, Adolfo Cambiaso Jr. The team from Cañuelas is completed by Adolfo (Poroto) Cambiaso Jr. Jr. (yes, the son of the one above), David Stirling from Uruguay, and Juan Martin Nero. All of them are 10 goalers, so the team has the perfect handicap: 40 goals
This Cañuelas-based team will compete with the same lineup as in 2022 and try and retain the titles won last year of Hurlingham and Palermo. If they do so and also win Tortugas, they will be able to call themselves triple crowned for 2023.
2. La Natividad
Also from Cañuelas, this younger team, winner of Tortugas in 2022, is changing 50% of their line-up this year. They say goodbye to Ignatius Du Plessis and Polito Pieres and welcome to Pablo MacDonough with 10 goals of handicap and Facundo Pieres with 9 goals of handicap.
They total 39 goals of handicap with the line-up completed by Castagnola brothers, Bartolome Jr. (Barto) and Camilo (Jeta, pronounced ‘hetta’ which means face in argentine colloquial Spanish), both 10 goalers, and remain the second strongest contenders to this 2023 Argentine high goal season.
3. La Hache
With four players with a handicap of 9 goals (three of them ex-10 goalers), this new line-up of La Hache (Ulloa’s club located in General Rodriguez) becomes, with 36 goals of handicap, the third strongest participant of 2023 Argentine Polo Triple Crown.
The team is composed of Guillermo (Sapo) Caset Jr., coming from Murus Sanctus, Hilario Ulloa, who leaves leaving Ellerstina to join his own club’s team, Polito Pieres coming from La Natividad 2022 and Francisco Elizalde, joining from dismantled 2022 line-up Irenita Grand Champions.
The longest lasting club name in the Triple Crown, participating uninterruptedly in the Argentine Polo Triple Crown since 1992 and still active. This is more than 3 decades of polo at the highest level in the world.
The General Rodriguez-based club, Ellerstina says goodbye in 2023 to their renowned Facundo Pieres and to strong player Hilario Ulloa.
Now Pieres brothers Gonzalo Jr. and Nicolas, both of 9 goals of handicap, integrate Ignatius Du Plessis, also 9 goals, coming from La Natividad and upcoming player Bautista Bayugar with 8 goals of handicap, coming from La Irenita II adding up a total of 35 goals of handicap to their team.
5. La Ensenada
The club from Lujan disjoints from RS Murus Sanctus and says goodbye to Caset and Facundo Sola.
Now Alfredo Bigatti, with 9 goals, and Jero Del Carril, with 8 goals, rejoin forces with their 2021 teammates Juan Martin Zubia and Juan Britos, both with 9 goals, who come back from La Irenita Grand Champions, and complete the equation by adding up 35 goals of handicap.
6. Cria La Dolfina
Cañuelas’ third team is nothing less than Cambiaso’s horse bank. This team is the second one of the lot to keep last year’s line-up with Guillermo Terrera, 9 goals of handicap, Tomas Panelo, 9 goals of handicap, Diego Cavanagh, 8 goals of handicap, and Alejo Taranco, 9 goals of handicap. They total 35 goals of handicap.
7. La Irenita
This club, based in General Rodriguez, had 3 teams playing the Triple Crown last year. Now, in 2023, they have a line-up of 32 goals of handicap. They’re also one of the 2022 teams with one change.
Fernandez Llorente brothers Facundo and Tomas Jr. and Isidro Strada, all of them with 8 goals of handicap, say goodbye to Bautista Bayugar and welcome Matias Torres Zabaleta matching their 8 goal handicap.
8. La Hache II
Last year, this team was the only one presented by Hilario’s club. This year they remain in competition with only one change.
Juan Ruiz Guiñazu Jr. with 8 goals, Carlos Maria Ulloa (brother of Hilario), 7 goals, and Joaquin Pittaluga, 8 goals, say goodbye to Santiago Cernadas and welcome ex Murus Sanctus 8 goal player Facundo Sola.
They total 31 goals of handicap, making them the 8th strongest team in the world and qualifying directly to the Triple Crown 2023
The classification for the last two spots in Palermo
This is the thirstiest, most competitive, least merciful tournament of polo in the world. Almost quite as exciting as the Triple Crown itself, this is the must-get-through challenge to glory: The glory of playing Palermo.
The teams competing in this Classification Tournament for Palermo’s Open did not reach a high enough handicap to qualify directly amongst the 8 favorites to the Triple Crown 2023. However, they meet the criteria of 28 or above goals of handicap for the team and all players of 6 goals or above.
There are two spots vacant in Palermo’s Open, The Argentine Open, the biggest crown of the three. And there are nine teams that want those two spots. Here are the line-ups:
Canadian Frederick Mannix, currently 7 goals, who was once upon a time 9 goals, and almost touched heaven with his hands when playing Palermo’s final in 2013, is still thirsty for glory 10 years later.
He joins forces with 2022 Cámara de Diputados champion Benjamin Panelo (7 goals), Santiago Cernadas (7 goals), who had last year qualification and got through with a different line up, securing a spot in the Argentine Open 2022, and upcoming machine Rufino Bensadon (8 goals). They total 29 goals of handicap.
2. Don Ercole
Former Triple Crown participants, Toccalino brothers Ignacio (7) and Santiago (8) join forces with upcoming Segundo Bocchino (7) and American player Kris Kampsen (6). 28 goals is the handicap for Don Ercole.
3. El Overo Z7 UAE
Lucas Monteverde Jr. Jr., son of Palermo Open Champion Lucas Jr., joins forces with another Open Champion son, Cruz Heguy, and Victorino Ruiz Jorba and Teodoro Lacau. All players in this team hold a handicap of 7 goals and a total of 28 goals for the team.
4. Nuestra Tierra
After becoming Champions of the 2022 Cámara de Diputados, they lost the promotion match to La Hache II. This season the club from Open Door says goodbye to Benjamin Panelo and welcomes Santiago Loza (7).
This way Alejandro Muzzio (8), Santiago Laborde (6) and Jared Zenni (7) will try and squeeze into the most important tournament in the world. 29 goals of handicap.
5. La Irenita II
With one team already qualified into the Triple Crown, La Irenita will try and take another slot in the Palermo Open with Juan Jauretche (7), Valerio Zubiaurre (7), Matias MacDonough Jr. (6) nephew of Pablo, and big shot and former Triple Crown player Alfredo Cappella Barabucci (8). 28 goals of handicap.
6. La Fija
7 goalers Manuel Elizalde, Ezequiel (Gallego) Martinez Ferrario, Mariano Gonzalez Jr., and Irish-Chilean Tomas (the Tower) Beresford Donoso join forces in the hope for a spot in the books of glory. They add up to 28 goals of handicap.
7. La Esquina
With the same lineup with which they managed to get a spot last year, brothers Laprida, Cristian Jr. (Magoo), and Ignacio, both with 8 goals of handicap, along with Lucas James (7) and Spanish Pascual Sainz de Vicuña (6), will try and get back into Palermo Open once again. 29 goals of handicap.
Brazilian Pedro Zacharias with 8 goals, young players Gonzalo Ferrari and Hilario Figueras (yes, Polo Ralph Lauren’s model’s son), both with 6 goals of handicap, and experienced polo veteran and 2003 triple crowned Miguel Novillo Astrada, playing now of 8 goals of handicap, create this new 28 goals of handicap team to try and enter 2023 Palermo Open.
9. La Cañada
Open Door ‘s renowned members’ club presents a team of 28 goals of handicap to try and be present once again in the most important polo tournament in the world. Line-up is Facundo Llosa, Raul Colombres, Lucas Diaz Alberdi, and Pedro Fallabella Jr. All of them hold a handicap of 7 goals.
Only two of these 9 teams split into three groups will see their names in 2023 Palermo’s Open. The games are going to be exhilarating!
How do I get tickets for the 2023 Argentine high goal polo season?
While most of the Triple Crown games have paid entry, in 2023 there are going to be a few exceptions. Games played at Hurlingham, Tortugas, and Palermo will require a ticket but some matches of these tournaments will be played in the AAP grounds in Pilar, and here the entry will be free.
While some of the pages that we link to are in Spanish, if you need help to book your tickets you can contact us via our WhatsApp button, and we will be happy to help.
Here is all the info about dates and locations:
1) Hurlingham Open
Tuesday, September 26th: 2 Quarter Finals, 13:30 and 16hs, AAP grounds in Pilar. Free Entry
Wednesday, September 27th: 2 Quarter Finals, 13:30 and 16hs, AAP grounds in Pilar. Free Entry
Sunday, October 1st: 2nd Semi Final, Palermo, Buenos Aires City. Paid Entry.
Friday, October 6th: Subsidiary Final, AAP grounds in Pilar, Free Entry.
Saturday, October 7th: Hurlingham Open Final, Hurlingham Club. Paid Entry.
2) Tortugas Open
With the exception of the Final, all dates have two games, the first one at 14hs and the second one at 16:30.
Tuesday, October 10th: Group A first day
Wednesday, October 11th: Group B first day
Saturday, October 14th: Group A second day
Sunday, October 15th: Group B second day
Friday, October 20th: Group A definition day
Saturday, October 21st: Group B definition day
Saturday, October 28th: Tortugas Open Final
3) Palermo Open
The first two dates will take place with free entry at the AAP grounds in Pilar whereas all other dates will be played at Palermo’s polo grounds in Buenos Aires City. You can get tickets online here.
Also the first 8 dates will have two games each, the first one at 14hs and the second one at 16:30.
Tuesday, October 31st: Group A kick off (Pilar)
Wednesday, November 1st: Group B kick off (Pilar)
Saturday, November 4th: Group A 2nd day (Palermo)
Sunday, November 5th: Group B 2nd day (Palermo)
Saturday, November 11th: Group A 3rd day (Palermo)
Sunday, November 12th: Group B 3rd day (Palermo)
Friday, November 17th: Group A 4th day (Palermo)
Saturday, November 18th: Group B 4th day (Palermo)
Saturday, November 25th: Group A definition day (Palermo)
Sunday, November 26th: Group B definition day (Palermo)
Saturday, December 2nd: Palermo’s Open Final
Some context. What happened in the 2022 Argentine polo triple crown?
Last year’s three finals were played by 4 different teams, however all wins were for Cañuelas county teams. With a calendar similar to the one of the last decades, Tortugas was played first, then Hurlingham, and at last Palermo. And here is what happened:
La Natividad won Tortugas Open Final 14-13 against La Ellerstina.
La Natividad indeed started the season hungry for more glory with the immense inertia acquired the year before by winning the most desired trophy, the Championship Cup, at the Palermo Open 2021.
Castagnola brothers, Nachi Du Plessis and Polito Pieres, had not won together Tortugas Open yet. Despite starting the match with the wrong foot, they overcame difficulties and ended up on top. If you have time, you can enjoy this thrilling 2022 Tortugas Open Final. You can watch the game here:
La Dolfina won the Hurlingham Open Final 13-12 against Irenita Grand Champions
La Dolfina’s line-up had a necessary change this season in order to accommodate for Adolfito’s goal for this 2022 season: to play (and win) with his son. After many seasons of shared glory and trophies won, La Dolfina had to say goodbye to Pablo MacDonough to make room for Poroto Cambiaso.
Likely to happen, Pablo MacDonough, still at the top of his game, made a fresh new team full of young and hungry powerful players. They made it from the other side of the tournament draw to the final as well as La Dolfina.
With clear control of La Dolfina but a very close end result, Poroto Cambiaso picked up the first Triple Crown trophy of his life. You can see how this happened here:
La Dolfina won Palermo Open Final 13-9 against La Natividad
As if Tortugas and Hurlingham were semifinals of Palermo, the two champions of the previous tournaments of the Triple Crown 2022 finally met at the last date of Argentina’s high goal 2022 season.
In real terms, it looks like the Hurlingham Open was the end of La Natividad’s momentum and only the start of this new La Dolfina’s lineup with Poroto. Cambiaso’s team controlled the game from start to finish as the progression of the scoreboard shows: La Dolfina, 2-0, 3-1, 6-4, 8-4, 10-6, 11-7, 11-7 y 13-9.
Here are the highlights of this 2022 Palermo’s definition:
What are the expectations for the 2023 Argentine Polo Triple Crown?
All things considered, with lots of new teams and upcoming players, new calendar, and even free entry dates to watch the best polo in the world, it does look like 2023 Argentine spring is going to be a super interesting season for high goal polo.
Immense chances are in favour of last year Hurlingham and Palermo’s winner, La Dolfina, a team which keeps the same line-up and has one 10 goaler in each position!!!
After having excellent results in Hurlingham and Palermo 2021 and Tortugas 2022, but dropping performance for the very same tournaments won the previous year, Castagnolas brothers’ La Natividad brings on to their team very experienced and powerful players. Might this line up end up cornering and defeating La Dolfina this season? They have the potential to do so.
After playing for a few seasons with one the strongest teams of the last decades, and having a team of his own club, without him being a part of it last year, Hilario has now managed to put together a super strong team with extremely good players all of them worthy of respect. This team is also one to look out for. Might we see them in any of the three finals? Maybe!
Three teams equally strong, and strong indeed are La Ensenada, Ellerstina and Cria La Dolfina. All of them are made of three 9 goalers and an 8 goaler that could easily be a 9.This puts them is a similar category to Hilario’s La Hache and also with chances of getting a very desired extra match (or more, who knows?) in the Triple Crown.
Yes, Argentine Polo Triple Crown of 2023 will indeed be an exciting one to follow. Hurlingham and Tortugas, the Classification to Palermo, and of course, Palermo itself promise to be even more attractive to watch than ever.
If you read this far, thank you so much for doing so. And if you want more information, or if you want to come and watch some of the games with us let us know by clicking here or using the Whatsapp button. We would love to hear from you!
Thinking of coming to Argentina to watch the Triple Crown? Great stuff! You can read on everything you need to know about polo holidays in Argentina!