Argentina, Hired Assassins and Polo Horses
Why are nine of the top ten polo players in the world (with a handicap of 10), and 19 of the top 20 (with a handicap of 9), all from Argentina?
“We start young, we play all year around, our horses are well-trained and… we are obsessed with the game,” explains Ruben Jabib, owner of Argentina Polo Day, one of the leading polo companies in Argentina.
The international handicap system is based on a scale that starts at -2 for novices, rising to 10 for the very best players. In Argentina the handicap system starts at 0, so a regular player there is a very good one outside their country.
In any professional polo game in Europe, one can easily identify Argentinean polo players; they are sometimes called hired assassins as they score so often.
Argentinean polo teams come once a year to Wassenaar and Friesland in the Netherlands among many other cities in Europe to play a season against local teams. The near-untouchable Argentineans are widely regarded as the best in the world.
The professional polo season in Argentina runs from September to December, but the game is played at a lower level throughout the year.
Equestrian culture is deeply embedded in the country. Just few kilometers from downtown Buenos Aires one can find the vast fertile, lowland plains – Pampas – where countless world-class horses are bred. They are admired and purchased by enthusiasts from around the world, be it Mexico or the United Arab Emirates.
While polo is often considered an elitist sport in Europe, in Argentina it is popular game enjoyed by many. Farmers often have their own playing pitches where they organize family matches, and major league matches are televised, often attracting crowns of over 40,000.
There are more than 13,000 active polo players nationwide –more than any other country in the world. Unlike in many other nations, polo businesses often come in the form of small, family-run companies, making the sport a proud family heritage. These family companies are involved in every aspect of the game, from breeding the horses to manufacturing the polo sticks.
Many companies are increasingly using new technologies such as embryonic transplantation and cloning, but the time-tested tradition of breeding and training a polo horse is still deeply rooted in the Argentinean culture.
Professionals and amateurs from around the world travel to Argentina Polo Day for training, to take intensive classes, to play professional tournaments and to buy horses. Luxury accommodation and the best instructors can be combined with participation in Argentina’s top high handicap tournaments: The Triple Crown, Tortugas Country Club, Hurlingham Polo Club and Palermo Polo Open.
Even those unfamiliar with horse-riding can enjoy Argentina Polo Day to spend some time learning about the game’s history; getting to grips with its rules and basic techniques; watching professional games; enjoying the finest empanadas, asados and wine; taking classes; participating in mini tournaments; and relaxing in the pool before heading back to downtown Buenos Aires at the end of the day.
Argentina Polo Day became a very attractive option for those seeking to discover the secrets of one of the most exclusive sports in the world.
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