Nicolás Pieres, like his brothers Pablo, Gonzalo and Facundo, is one of the mega stars of the international polo scene. Together, the four play for the team Ellerstina with the maximum team handicap 40. With the 12:11 victory in the final of the Hurlingham Open against the team La Dolfina (Adolfo Cambiaso (10), David Stirling (10), Pablo Mac Donough (10) and Juan Martín Nero (10) the start of the Tripple Crown series 2018 was tailor made for the Although the victory at the 125th Hurlingham Open is of particular importance to Nicolás, the Pieres brothers have an even bigger goal in mind. This and much more Nicolás told POLO&LUXURY correspondent David D’Hondt in the interview after the Hurlingham Open.
The Pieres family has a long-standing and highly successful polo tradition. Gonzalo Pieres senior is a legend and Nicolás, Facundo, Pablo and Gonzalo Pieres junior are among the world’s best polo players with handicap 10. The brothers collect trophies at the prestigious tournaments around the globe like other people collect stamps. The Pieres brothers play for Ellerstina and they are the only family team which play together with a team Handicap of 40. Pablo plays on position 1, Gonzalo plays position 2, Nicolás is the libero on position 3 and Facundo is the number 4.
The final of the 125th Hurlingham Open was the thirtieth final Ellerstina and La Dolfina played against each other. History favours the Cañuelas foursome, who have won 19 of the battles, versus Ellerstina’s 10. The last final was won by La Dolfina when they claimed this season’s Tortugas Open; Ellerstina’s last victory was in Hurlingham, in 2016.
That last title was the only one missing your CV in terms of the Triple Crown.
“It is true that for me, personally, the Hurlingham open has always been particularly tough,” he shares. “I am happy, we have won Hurlingham two years in a row, but our goal is Palermo. Ellerstina will always work to win the Argentine Open. Tortugas is behind us, even though we really wanted to win, and we are determined to win Hurlingham, too, but our main objective is always Palermo.”
One of the biggest changes to Ellerstina’s organisation this season was the incorporation of Hector Guerrero as coach, isn’t it?
Yes of course that’s right, but we also have made changes on the field as well, with Facundo playing at Back and Nico returning to mid-field. But of course, each player is versatile and tackles every challenge placed in front of him. While our positions and shirts say one thing, in this type of polo it can happen that I end up at Back, other times at 1 and Polito at Back, and so on. But I think we are working well together. The idea is that each player stays in his position until the play ends. I think that we are doing it quite well so we are happy with that.”
Has the team played all of its horses, or will be a few making the season debut in Palermo?
“It is all more or less organised. Facundo is missing one that he brought over from the States; I brought one from England which I could only play in one match, and today [against La Aguada] I had to leave her behind because she is not 100%. My good mare, Guillermina, is still quite heavy. But in the other match against La Aguada we brought quite a few. And now we are all set for this final; ready to rumble.”
Ellerstina has gone from strength to strength this season, especially if we consider the 2017 Tortugas Open final, arguably your worst match since you formed this line up in 2015. This year, your team as solid as ever, with a style of play that is slowly reaching their desired standards.
“We are playing well. I am comfortable in my position, even though it is a new one for me. I naturally tend to play up front. I also liked playing at back, but now I am happy in midfield. Facundo was the one who maybe didn’t feel so comfortable in the middle; he wanted to play at Back, and I think that he is the team’s secret weapon, so was long as he is comfortable, we can work around him. I’m not really sure it changes much to look at the board and see that we are a 40-goal team. We have to try and always play those 40 goals; there are obviously some matches when we do that more than others, but I think that we have kept a good rhythm this year, with the exception of the Tortugas final, where we were pretty weak. I personally wasn’t confident in my ball skills, but it was against La Dolfina, an amazing team. So, we don’t really focus on our handicap as much as we do on the performance of the team.”
Lastly, one of the most notable aspects about Ellerstina’s style of play during this Hurlingham Open has been the relentless style of attack, where your team choose not to pull up even when you have gained a huge goal advantage. Your team maintained its intensity until the final whistle of every match.
“We have been trying to play chukka by chukka, trying to win every chukka, and only looking at the scoreboard when the match finishes. The biggest changes we have made his year are the way we work together and the way we concentrate on playing chukka by chukka.”