2016 High Goal
Handicap change news
The new handicaps from the Board of Directors at Argentine Polo Association for the top players in the world are out. Hilario Ulloa of Alegría Assist Card, top goal scorer of The Argentine Open, joins the heady heights of 10 goal status. Another well deserved recognition is that of Guillermo Caset who is also moving up from 9 to 10 goals having had a fantastic Triple Crown with La Aguada ICBC. The performance of team-mate Agustín Merlos has also merited a handicap raise, moving up from 8 goals to 9.
Miguel Novillo Astrada, the only 10 goaler not playing The Triple Crown, has been lowered to 9. This means there are now a total of nine players who sport the highest handicap in polo: Adolfo Cambiaso, Facundo Pieres, Gonzalo Pieres, Pablo Pieres, Juan Martín Nero, David Stirling, Pablo MacDonough and now Hilario Ulloa and Guillermo Caset.
Other players who have been raised include Alfredo Cappella Barabucci (of Washington Ghantoot) from 8 to 9 goals, Ezequiel Martínez Ferrario from 7 goals to 8 goals and Julián de Lusarreta and Rodrigo Rueda from 6 to 7. But some big names are going down in handicap and include Eduardo Heguy and Frederick Mannix moving from 9 goals to 8 and Alberto Heguy, Bautista Heguy and Alejandro Agote moving from 8 goals down to 7.
Top 10 Players Chart
10th – Pablo Mac Donough: La Dolfina’s number three shone this season, but perhaps not as much as in other years. Having said that, he had a great year and was a fundamental part of the triple Triple Crown victory. His power in attack is striking, scoring almost every time he shoots to goal.
9th – Gonzalo Pieres: The most experienced Ellerstina player had a good Triple Crown; his performance was consistent and he was there when his team needed him most. His efforts helped Ellerstina reach all three finals.
8th – Ignacio Toccalino: In his first season with Las Monjitas, the former Magual player stepped up to the challenge. He scored many important goals and was a key player in his team every time he switched on.
7th – Alfredo Cappella: One of the players with most projection on a global scale. He was the best player in Washington, a team that attracted high expectations from the moment it was formed. He pushed his team throughout the season, showing a class and calm rare for so young a player. He was raised to 9 goals at the end of the season.
6th – Guillermo Caset: Much was expected from the new La Aguada line-up, and from “Sapo”, after his great performance in 2014. He led his team throughout Palermo and lifted their spirits after their fall against Washington in Hurlingham. He had already reached 10 goals in the US, and now has been crowned with a 10 goal handicap in Argentina.
5th – David Stirling: The Uruguayan plays better every year and has become a fundamental part of the La Dolfina line up. He has shown notable growth and maturity since he entered the Cañuelas based team and is now one of the best players in the world. He was crucial in the final of the Hurlingham Open and shone throughout the season as a whole.
4th – Hilario Ulloa: Many considered that Hilario should have been raised to 10 goals long ago. He has been playing at that level for the past few seasons at least, and 2015 was his best year yet. Perhaps his performance was highlighted by the level of his team, but he was undoubtably the best when Alegría played well and was very efficient with his penalties. His dedication and the quality of his play is definitely superior.
3rd – Facundo Pieres: He started the Triple Crown playing as a Back, a new position for him in the Argentine high-goal. He was a great force in his team, performing outstanding plays, particularly in the finals of Hurlingham and Palermo. It was thanks to his runs that Ellerstina threatened La Dolfina’s title at Palermo. He led Ellerstina to all three finals and showed his talent in the way he settled into his new position.
2nd – Adolfo Cambaiso: What more can be said about Cambiaso? Over the last few years he has modified his style of play so as to fit into the structure of the team. But in 2015 Cambiaso was critical in the defining moments of play. He was always there, such as when he scored a sixty to win the final of Hurlingham after having missed many penalties during the match. Or when in Palermo, especially against Alegría and Ellerstina, his team needed his goals. This year not only marked his 12th Palermo title, but also La Dolfina’s third consecutive Triple Crown title.
1st – Juan Martín Nero: An exceptional player – it would be unfair to say he is just a Back. He is an all-rounder who defends, marks and is forceful in attack too. It is not a coincidence that his mare was named Best Playing Pony of the Season (Oli Chicha), and that he scored the best goal of the Palermo final. His polo gets better every year; he is what is known as a ‘complete’ player, and plays more than 10 goals, despite the fact that he was put down to 9 in England.
Although Adolfo Cambiaso is placed at number two in this chart he was awarded the Silver Olimpia in Argentina. The ‘Círculo de Periodistas Deportivos’ de Buenos Aires, presented Adolfo Cambiaso with the Silver Olimpia Award for the best polo player of the year. Cambiaso, who made history with La Dolfina after winning three consecutive Triple Crown titles in Argentina, was nominated alongside Facundo Pieres and Juan Martin Nero.
The world’s best player received the award for the tenth time in his career – 1997, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2013, 2014 and 2015, making him the most awarded player in history. In addition, he is the second polo player in the history of polo to be presented with the Golden Olimpia for Sportsman of the year, in 2014, an award previoulsy received only by Juan Carlitos Harriott.
Changes to the 2016 High Goal Teams
One of the most notable changes is the comeback of an all-Novillo Astrada lineup; Eduardo, Miguel, Ignacio and Alejandro join forces to form a 35-goal La Aguada Las Monjitas team. The brothers divided in 2012 with the goal of including the youngest, Alejandro, in the family team. Alejandro began playing with the eldest, Eduardo, in a second team, La Aguada Las Monjitas. Meanwhile, Miguel, Javier and Nacho remained together in La Aguada with Guillermo Caset Jr. Now the brothers are back playing together in one team.
In addition to the comeback of the Novillo Astrada brothers, the 2016 season will feature a new 35-goal foursome, with no name as of yet, comprised of the two Toccalino brothers, Cubi and Santiago, and Agustín Merlos and Ignacio Heguy. Santiago and Nachi leave Magual and Chapaleufu, respectively, while Cubi and Agustin (who made a great comeback in the Triple Crown this year) leave from the two La Aguada teams.
Another former La Aguada member, brand new 10-goaler Guillermo Caset Jr., will be joining Alegria’s line-up. Fred Mannix’s team will feature no less than two 10-goalers – Sapo and Hilario Ulloa, the top scorer of this last Argentine Open and one of the superstars of the season.
There is fantastic news for Washington as well, the newcomers of the year. They will keep their same lineup – Facundo Sola, Diego Cavanagh, Ezequiel Martinez Ferrario and Alfredo Cappella, and in 2016 they play their first complete Triple Crown, after the handicap raises of Cappella (8 to 9) and Martinez Ferrario (8 to 7). It will be a great challenge for this young and talented foursome; they have a brilliant future ahead.
La Dolfina and Ellerstina will remain the same. The “big six” ready to play the Triple Crown are confirmed. Now, we have to see what teams will compete with them after qualifying. The 2016 season promises to be better than ever!