Real PoloThursday, August 13, 2009
As a little boy when I accompanied my father and mother from our residential neighbourhood of Coghlan downtown we took the Bartolomé Mitre train that took us past Belrgrano R to our destination of Retiro which was the end of the line. On the way, where the two different Mitre lines (the other passed a station called Belgrano C) merged to head towards Retiro, the trains would pass by the forested Palermo Park which was and is even today full of stadiums. There were soccer stadiums, rugby stadiums, Olympic sports fields, and the Hipódromo Argentino de Palermo where the horse races were held. On weekends, when my parents often took me to the movies on Calle Lavalle, there would be games being played on the stadiums or I would see the horses on the way to the finish at the hipódromo. But the rarest and most exciting sight for me was when looking out of the window I would see the elegant and prancing ponies on the polo field.
Years later when I was in the Argentine Navy I would often go to Palermo on Sundays to watch a polo match or my cousin Georgito O’Reilly play with his rugby team, Club Atlético San Isidro(CASI). I thought myself too refined to go to the many A-League soccer games being played on any Sunday afternoon.
To this day I admire the look of the real Argentine polo player. The look comes surely from the fact that to play polo you need a lot of money and idle time to practice. It is the combination of idle time and practice that makes the Argentines the best polo players in the world. As I look back at these photographs I note that this is as authentic as polo can ever get. Poor old Ralph will never really get it. You see, to be authentic you have to have a bit of the gaucho. The gaucho may not have been elegant or smart but he certainly could ride that horse.