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Dragon Slayers

Column by Henri de By

We all love an underdog. We love to see a scrappy team persevere against all odds. It

elevates a match to a battle, a win to a victory. We like to identify with the underdog

and attribute to it admirable qualities, such as tenacity and heart. It is the sporting

equivalent of David versus Goliath or Saint George slaying the Dragon.

Of course, such upsets are rare but hope springs eternal. If that is the kind of

match you like to watch, praise yourself lucky with the upcoming US high-goal

season. Seldom in polo was there a bigger dragon to slay than Valiente, the team

with both Adolfo Cambiaso and Facundo Pieres in its line-up.

When the news broke of the world’s two best players teaming up with patron

Bob Jornayvaz, a wail could be heard around the polo world. However, the dire

predictions that other patrons would not enter teams if they did not stand a chance

to win have not come to pass. After all, who would not relish an opportunity to play

against the best? Or better yet: to slay the dragon. So, starting on Wednesday,

February 28, three teams will battle each other and Valiente for the CV Whitney Cup.

You can watch this first tournament of the US high-goal, followed by the USPA Gold

Cup and US Open, on Internet by way of (where you will also find all the

match dates and times).

Personally, I will root for the dragon. I like that Adolfo Cambiaso and

Facundo Pieres for the first time in history play on the same team (aside from

perhaps in an exhibition match). Even more remarkable considering their fierce

rivalry to be the world’s top player, culminating every year since 2005 (except

2006) in their La Dolfina and Ellerstina teams battling each other in the final of the

Argentine Open.

Underdogs have great appeal but there is also something splendid in fielding

the best team possible, in striving for perfection (no matter the costs!). As a bonus,

there will be the pleasure of watching the extremely talented, young Tommy

Beresford as the third professional on Valiente. After winning last year’s Queen’s

Cup with Cambiaso, Tommy’s selection as teammate by the world’s two top players

surely can be seen as his anointment as the best English 4-goaler, if not the world’s.

My money is on the boy riding the biggest dragon in polo.

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