There has been some interesting discussion about who is the best polo player of all time. Personally, I would have thought that Adolfo Cambiaso would be the obvious choice of almost everybody. But it is not so. Other very knowledgeable people have their own ideas of who is the best. Two other names have come up already, Juan Carlos Harriott of Argentina, who won no fewer than 20 Argentine Opens!, and Cecil Smith of Texas who was a 10-goal player for 25 years!. Personally I like all three of these great players, although in different ways. Perhaps we can learn something from each of them. But there is one who is my personal all-time favorite, and I will talk about him first. Please feel free to post your own personal favorites. Maybe we all can learn something.
Okay, Sani. Glad you're sticking around, and thanks for that very long post. It is a bit difficult to tell whether it is you speaking or you are quoting your mysterious friend (or someone else) but there are a number of interesting points made.
sani is on the road. continue there!!
best regards friends
The truth is that the best polo player of all time has not yet been born. Horses will get better. Athletes will get better. And most of all, competition will get better. Polo is the best substitute for war ever invented, and that makes it the most important sport in the history of the world. The best is yet to come.
Apparently that match was quite remarkable for its intensity and competitiveness:
In 1933, the West rose up and successfully challenged the East's dominance of the sport in the first series of legendary East-West matches played near Chicago. Humorist Will Rogers remarked that Cecil Smith and his team threatened to "take the polo championship from the drawing room to the bunkhouse." The match was so competitive that both No. 3s, Cecil Smith and Tommy Hitchcock, were knocked unconscious but later returned to play, and the West's Rube Williams broke his leg in a ride-off.
In order to understand who is the best, you have to realise that polo in general has travelled a long, long way in the past 30 years alone.
In the past, most of these other players, would seat on the horse with little (or in most cases) not practice at all. They only relied on inborn/natural skills to stand out, and stand out they did as nobody was training for polo. Today professionalism is such these days that you no longer can rely on those inborn skills to stand out as professional players are training like never before, from mental preparation to physiotherapists on the field to massage them in between chukkers! You can put Carlos Harriot and any of the other names mentioned here on the high goal field today and they would be fairly average, so Adolfo Cambiaso is, without a doubt the best player ever, and followed by Facu Pieres, Gonzalo Pieres Jr., Juanma Nero...
Thank you, Gustavo. I think we all would agree that the level of professionalism in polo is higher today than ever before, particularly in terms of the use of "scientific" methods such as visualization, slow-motion video analysis, and modern horse breeding and cloning techniques. But I think quite a few would disagree with the idea that the great players of the past did not work very hard to use whatever tools they had to perfect their game. Several have said that Juan Carlos Harriott was fanatical about preparation and training and would leave no stone unturned to improve his chances of winning, and of course his teams won the Argentine Open twenty times, far more than any other player. Cecil Smith, a 10-goaler for 25 years, learned to play polo by hitting rocks on a ranch in Texas, and went on to become one of the greatest hitters of all time. There is probably no one in this discussion who would disagree that, one on one, Adolfo Cambiaso is the greatest player in the history of the game. He is a phenomenal player, and if you love the game of polo, you cannot help being mesmerized to watch him play. As for the other great players of today, it would be interesting to see how they matched up with the great players of the past.
My point wasn't about training or techniques, it was factual about the level and demands of playing today versus during their times. It is a fact that the old boys didn't prepare nearly as much, nor they played nearly as many games during the year.
I had the pleasure of meeting Juan Carlos and be able to have a small chat about polo with him. He told me that today's players are better than yesterday's but that yesterday's polo was better than today's (to which I totally agree). He himself has made declarations for Buenos Aires Polo International magazine that both Cambiaso and Facu Pieres were better than him. If you look at videos you can see that the game during his days was composed of long hits and run. They weren't anywhere as talented at handling the stick, hitting the ball in the air, dribbling between opposing players in confined space.
Cambiaso plays in his own league and we all seem to agree on that one, but personal in my opinion Facu is better than him playing #1. I never seen him playing #4 (something that Cambiaso does with no problems).
Whilst those old names were great and did a tremendous amount for the sport we all love so much, I don't think they would compare with the guys playing today. I really hope Polo improves to the point when in 25 years time people are having the same discussions we are having today. That can only be positive for the sport.