Llorente returns to Argentina after winning British Polo Plate

Matt Jones - Editor 15:44 20/03/2016
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Ghantoot Polo Team captain Abdulla bin Desmal receives the British Polo Day Plate.

Victory saw the host club claim the coveted British Polo Day Plate at Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club last night, with youngster Llorente as yet undecided as to whether his ride into the Abu Dhabi sunset will be permanent.

“There’s lots of pressure playing for Ghantoot because it’s a winning team, but I feel empowered playing for them,” said the 23-year-old Argentine.

“I’m going back home to Argentina but I will maybe be back next season, I don’t know. I’ve enjoyed the season a lot. The UAE is a nice place and you get to play at nice venues like this. It gives you a reason to keep playing games, so I hope to be back here next year.”

Llorente turned professional at 18 and has followed in the footsteps of his older brother Pablo, who is a well-known player in UAE polo circles, having featured in many Dubai Gold Cups of recent years.

It’s been a frustrating campaign for Ghantoot, who reached several finals but often fell at the final hurdle, but at least it ended on a high for both them and Llorente.

He added: “We won the first cup here, the President’s Cup, but we lost other events before the final. The aim is always to win and score more goals so today has been a fun day and there’s lots of enthusiasm.”

The Plate game brought the curtain down on the sixth instalment of British Polo Day, with the Cavalry earlier defeating the Guards team 4-1 to claim the Cup, which was played on camel-back.

A bicycle polo match between the UAE and Rest of the World in between kept the crowd entertained. Former US Marine Ladd Shepard was part of the winning Cavalry team and joked that he was the key to their success.

“Every team needs an American playing polo,” said Shepard.

“Actually I wouldn’t say it was the secret to success, they were more like a man down having me play with them. I don’t have much of a polo playing background. I’m more of a rugby player but I’ve watched a few games and made the bicycle team last year so I’ve been upgraded this year. Next year maybe I’ll be on horseback.”

Nick Edmonds may have been on the losing Guards side, but he still managed to enjoy himself. A former member of the British Army, Edmonds has been involved in the last five British Polo Day events and believes it has come a long way in that time.

“It’s got better and better,” he said. “The first time we tried it the camels disappeared and went and sat in the car park. The second year they had to be led around but since they’ve been doing it with a driver it’s much more of a game now.

“We were soundly beaten but there’s some phenomenally skilful players here. It’s just great fun.”

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