Polo Players Edition

JAN 2019

Polo Players' Edition is the official publication of the U.S. Polo Association. Dedicated to the sport of polo, it features player profiles, game strategy, horse care, playing tips, polo club news and tournament results.

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32 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N enough.' So, he gave me a lot of tips and points to simplify the game," explained Carlitos. As the boys got older, Carlos spent more time with them one on one when working with the horses. He would ask them to stick and ball or just ride some of his good mares. He also shared his polo knowledge with them, teaching them different polo strategies. "If you are playing and you are on the other team's half and you get the ball defensively (meaning the goal is behind you) and you are on the boards, he'd say hit down the boards, always," explained Carlitos. "If you are in the middle, always hit a tail. If you are in front of a goal, always hit open ... and if you are attacking on the boards, always shutdown to zero so someone can run down the middle for the pass," Carlitos said. "[Those are things] Memo and [my dad] did. That way when they got to the game, they didn't even have to talk. They didn't have to yell, 'tail!' They already knew that if they were here, they hit tail," he said. "It is just a way to simplify the game. Now, modern polo is very different and it is a bit more improvised. But, in a pressure situation, playing it simply is less risky." Carlitos says the type of polo his dad played was more of a team sport. "If you know what I am going to do, that's a team. If I just get to the ball and then decide, the result can be effective but it is a lot more risky." While he admired his dad, Carlitos admits his dad was older when he was playing with him, and the game has changed since then. "The [players] my generation look up to are [Adolfo] Cambiaso and Facundo [Pieres]. For me, I learned to be dedicated because that is something my dad did, that is something Memo did and that is something Cambiaso does now. Cambiaso is at the barn every day no matter what," said Carlitos. "What I learned is that if you are going to do something, your life has to revolve around that. There is always competition, so if the other guy is doing five hours, you have to do six. If the other guy's doing 10 hours, you have to do 12 hours. For me, it is the horses. [Polo] is a game of horses. You always try to improve your game and you can watch players and learn their styles but the biggest advantage is to know the horses." He continued, "Cambiaso is the master at that and that is why he shines so much. He knows every horse on the field. If you are on a slow one and he's on a fast one, he's going to run. If you are on a fast one and he's on a handy one, he is going to [slow the game down]. He always has two spares on each side, one fast, one handy, so depending on what play he is going into, he gets on that horse. He didn't dedicate himself to his horsemanship as much as my father did, but he dedicates himself to the horses. He knows the horses and he is with them all day." Four years ago, Carlos Gracida died as a result of a polo accident in Wellington, Florida. While losing your father is never easy, Carlitos decided to move forward, working with some of the things his father has started. "In a way, it was an opportunity. Now, everything I do is because of me and Like their father, Carlitos and his brother take great pride in their horses, especially when they power past one of the sport's best players, like Juan Martin Nero, above. Carlitos says winning this $100,000 World Cup final in April was his most memorable moment in polo so far. CHIARO FOTO

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