Juan Carlos Harriott – the Copa Internacional
This week sees the long-standing Copa Internacional Juan Carlos Harriott (11th to 14th February) played at the Coronel Suárez Polo Club, in the southern region of the province of Buenos Aires. There are two sections in the event: High Handicap, with six-chukker matches for teams with handicaps between 14 and 16 goals, and Low Handicap, with four-chukker matches for teams with handicaps between 8 and 10 goals. The tournament takes its name from Juan Carlos Harriott, father of the legendary Argentine player, who bore the same name.
Like father, like son… The career of Juancarlitos:
Juan Carlos Harriott, born 28 October 1936 in Buenos Aires, was also known as ‘el Inglés’ and ‘Juancarlitos’ to distinguish him from his father who had the same name. He is considered to have been the best polo player of all time. He achieved a distinguishing polo career that saw him win the Abierto de Palermo 20 times, the Abierto de Hurlingham 15 times and the Abierto Los Indios-Tortugas 7 times, totalling 42 high goal tournament wins. He also held the record with his team Coronel Suárez of 25 games undefeated and 38 tournament wins.
Juancarlitos’ potential was evident in 1953 aged seventeen when he won the Copa Vargas. Between 1957 and 1964 Juancarlitos played beside his father in the Coronel Suárez team. They won 9 out of the 10 tournaments they entered during this period and were the commanding force in polo. On 20 December 1961, aged 25, Juancarlitos achieved a 10-goal handicap which he held until his retirement on 1 July 1980 aged 44.
His amazing career saw him win the Argentine Open 20 times, and the America’s Polo Cup 4 times. He played in the United States and Great Britain. In 1976 he was awarded the Premio Olimpia de Oro (Gold Olimpia Award) for sport in Argentina and in 1980 the first Premios Konex de Platino for his life-time accomplishments in polo and was recognized as the best player in Argentine history.
Here are just a few of the many accolades used to describe the qualities Juancarlitos brought to his sport:
He was the archetype of a polo player – he played to perfection, a great jockey and a magnifcent horseman, with long and certain mallet shots. He brought a sense of ubiquity to the field. He had anticipation, speed and an extraordinary capacity to organise. [He possessed] exceptional team sense [and was] a serene leader, a pilot in the storm. Meanwhile, in Profiles in Polo Harriott was described by renowned author Horace Laffaye as the undisputed captain, organiser and leader. Laffaye also references a flattering account of the captain by the late Gonzalo Tanoira, another outstanding player and one-time president of the Argentine Polo Association: Juan Carloss superiority is so obvious that it defies all comparison, because he truly played a level much more above all his contemporaries.
(Pictured: Coronel Suárez in 1976. From left, Alberto Heguy, Horacio Heguy, Juan Carlos Harriott and Alfredo Harriott)