A polo handicap is a system created by Henry Lloyd Herbert, the first president of the United States Polo Association, at the founding of the USPA in 1890 so teams could be more evenly matched when using players with varying abilities.
The players are rated on a scale from minus-2 to 10. Minus-2 indicates a novice player, while a player rated at 10 goals has the highest handicap possible. It is so difficult to attain a 10-goal handicap that there are fewer than a dozen in the world, and about two-thirds of all players handicapped are rated at two goals or less. All ten-goalers today are Argentine, with the exception of David Stirling who was born in Uruguay - although he plays in Argentina, too.
Adolfo Cambiaso, born 15th April 1975 in Cañuelas, Buenos Aires Province, is currently the number 1 in the ranking of the World Polo Tour (what is the World Polo Tour? → click here) and is considered the best polo player in the world. The Argentine polo player (also referred to as “Adolfito“ or “Dolfi“) plays with a handicap of +10 goals in Argentina, the US and the UK. In Argentina the world-class player received the highest possible handicap in 1994 – back then at that time the youngest player to reach this. Since that time he has won prestigious tournaments all over the world. In December 2014 he once again made polo history by winning the Argentine Triple Crown – consisting of Tortugas, Hurlingham and Argentine Open – for the second consecutive year with his team La Dolfina. After Coronel Suárez (in 1974 and 1976) La Dolfina is the second team to achieve this. He took part in the Argentine Open 21 times and won 11 times. In December 2014 he also was presented with the Golden Olimpia Award for Athlete of the Year, the most important sports prize in Argentina. Cambiaso is the second polo player to receive this honour so far.
His fellow-countryman Juan Martín Nero also plays with a handicap of +10 goals in Argentina, the US and the UK. He was born on 14th April 1981 in Trenque Lauquen, Argentina. The 10-goaler ranks among the best polo players in the world and is ranked number 2 of the World Polo Tour. In 2004 he had his debut in the Argentine Open, today he plays for the La Dolfina team and boasts a distinguished career. He has won polo tournaments all over the world such as the Gold Cup Deauville in France, the Gold Cup in Sotogrande, Spain, the Polo World Cup on Snow in St. Moritz, Switzerland, the Gold Cup and Queen’s Cup in the UK as well as the C.V. Whitney Cup and the USPA Gold Cup in the US.
Facundo Pieres is part of the famous Pieres trio, which consists of the brothers Facundo, Gonzalo and Nicolás. The Argentine polo player was born on 19th May 1986 in Buenos Aires. He was the second polo player after Adolfo Cambiaso who received the highest possible handicap of +10 goals at the age of 19. Facundo is the son of the polo legend Gonzalo Pieres sen. and started his career in 1997, when he won the Copa Potrillos with the Ellerstina Jr. team. He plays for team Ellerstina with his brothers Gonzalo and Nicolás. As of 2015 his cousin Pablo “Polito” Pieres will also support the team. Despite his young age he participated in the Argentine Open, the most important polo tournament in the world, eleven times and won the tournament three times with his team Ellerstina. In the ranking of the World Polo Tour he is placed fourth.
His older brother Gonzalo Pieres plays with a handicap of +10 goals in Argentina and the UK, in the US he plays +9 goals. He was born on 17th December 1982 in Buenos Aires and is the oldest son of Gonzalo Pieres sen. “Gonzalito” participated in the Argentine Open in 2000 for the first time and since that time took part in the tournament every year, winning it three times. Abroad he also won several important tournaments such as the C.V. Whitney Cup and the USPA Gold Cup in the US.
Pablo “Polito” Pieres is a cousin of the Pieres brothers and since the beginning of this year he plays for their team Ellerstina. Previously he had been playing for team Alegría, which made it to the semi-finals of the 2014 Argentine Open, but could not succeed in winning against Ellerstina. In December 2014 the Argentine Polo Association announced the raise of his handicap from +9 goals up to +10 goals. Only one year before his handicap had been raised from +8 goals up to +9 goals, following the qualification of his team Alegría for the final of the Argentine Open in 2013, which was won by La Dolfina in the end.
Pablo Mac Donough also is a cousin of the brothers Facundo, Gonzalo and Nicolás. The Argentine Polo Player was born in Pehuajo near Buenos Aires on 21st February 1982 and began playing polo with his family at a very young age. He started his career with Ellerstina and won the Argentine Open in 2008 and in 2010 with the team, as well as the Argentine Triple Crown in 2010. In the following year he changed to team La Dolfina and won the Argentine Open another three times. Currently he ranked number 5 of the World Polo Tour.
The Uruguayan polo player David Stirling jr. is placed third in the ranking of the World Polo Tour. The 10-goaler is also known as “Pelón” and since 2009 he plays for Cambiaso’s La Dolfina. He was born on 4th January 1975 and so the forty-year-old is a few months older than Cambiaso and is an old stager in the sport of polo. Since January 2014 he plays with the highest possible handicap of +10 in Argentina.
Guillermo Caset jr., also called “Sapo”, was a polo prodigy. As a youth he raced through the handicap rankings going from a +1 goal handicap to a +6 goal handicap within a short 14 month period when barely 16 years old. In May 2014 his handicap was once again raised up to +10 goals after playing a successful season in the US. In 2012 his handicap had already been raised from +9 goals up to +10 goals after winning the US Open, but in 2013 his handicap was lowered down to a +9 goals because of his lack of success during the season. 2014 found Sapo returning to the US to play for Bob Jornayvaz’s team, Valiente. Valiente, with Sapo, together with Bob Jornayvaz, Santi Torres and Adolfo Cambiaso, triumphed in the CV Whitney Cup, the first of three tournaments that comprise the American Triple Crown of polo. Sapo was awarded a +10 goal handicap rating once again by the United States Polo Association for his brilliant play during a successful season with team Valiente.
Miguel Novillo Astrada was born on 10th February 1974 in Buenos Aires and plays with a handicap of +10 goals since January 2014 in Argentina. Until last year the 10-goaler, also called “Miki”, formed team La Aguada with his brother Ignacio as well as the polo players Facundo Sola and Guillermo Caset. In 2015 he wants to take a one-year break and will not participate in the Argentine Triple Crown. The biggest success of his career was in 2003 when he won the Argentine Open with his team La Aguada.