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Polo, Louis Devaleix's new beautiful life

Actualizado: 21 jun 2023

He started playing very recently but has already won notable tournaments, such as the East Coast Open in Greenwich, and even played in this year's Gauntlet of Polo; “outside my family, polo is the only other component in my life” he told CLICKPOLO USA

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Polo changes people's lives. Once it becomes a habit, everything revolves around it. Until two and a half years ago, Louis Devaleix (41 years old) hadn’t played polo in his life. Even more so, he had never even ridden a horse. Louis was born in France and moved to Brazil when he was a baby. Growing up in Rio de Janeiro, he had the chance to play polo as he lived in a golf and polo club. However, back then, his sport of choice was golf, the sport that took him to College in America. But everything changed in 2020 when he was at the Sunset Polo Club in Loxahatchee, Florida. “It was my first time riding a horse. I took my first polo lesson with Carlos Gonzalez and as soon as I hit the ball one meter I fell immediately in love with the sport. It was beautiful and inspiring, it’s you with another animal”, Louis told CLICKPOLO. After his first Gauntlet of Polo playing with his team, La Fe, Louis is currently taking part in the 8 Goal Season at the Mashomack Polo Club (Pine Planes, New York) and the 16 Goal Season at the Greenwich Polo Club (Greenwich, Connecticut), where he recently won the Bronze Cup.

“I took my first polo lesson with Carlos Gonzalez and as soon as I hit the ball one meter I fell immediately in love with the sport. It was beautiful and inspiring, it’s you with another animal“

Louis experienced success from the beginning as he won the 2021 East Coast Open at Greenwich. “It was a fantastic experience. To play with Hilario Ulloa, one of the best players in the world, when you’re just starting out and winning the East Coast Open is an accomplishment that still hasn’t sunk in." -Louis, what is La Fe? "La Fe is a family farm Robi Bilbao has in Argentina. Robi is one of the reasons I get to play polo, he has sacrificed a lot to play here with me as he could make more money working for other teams. He is a loyal and transparent individual who provides me with all my horses and has made polo affordable for me, and that’s why I decided to name the team after his farm. Last year we started breeding together and besides playing, it has become my other passion. I read about the different horses, the strings, and watched videos. We haven’t cloned yet but that’s something I’m learning about and exploring for the future." -Besides Robi and Lucas Díaz Alberdi, you teamed up with another top player like Fran Elizalde for the Gauntlet of Polo. How did they contribute to your game? "They work with me primarily in my riding, being in position. Not a game goes by where we don’t watch the footage. Lucas and Robi make me watch every video, show me my mistakes. The games are recorded and we spend a lot of time working on my riding and the best strategy for the team. Training with Fran really helped me push my limits. Playing with them makes me improve every single day."

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-Why did you decide to play as back? "I really like to play as back. I figure if I can slow down other players, I can help the team. Robi wants me to work and my job is to help the pros. I play for the three guys, not the other way around. Robi, Lucas and Fran respect that and I think that’s why they work with me." -What balance can you make of your first Gauntlet of Polo? "In 2021 I played 2-4 goal tournaments and this year I got to play the Gauntlet. I played against Adolfo Cambiaso. We even lost Fran, it was a big challenge for us, but we adapted and finished better than half of the teams during our first season. Robi’s handicap is going up, mine too, and this was our only Gauntlet as a team, the four of us together. It was overall a great experience."

-What place does polo occupy in your life? "I would say that, outside my family, polo is the only other component. I stopped all other activities." -What are your goals for the future? "I want to play with Rob as much as I can and I want to spend time in Argentina. I would like to play the Camara de Diputados in Argentina and for that I need to have 4 goals, so that’s my next goal. In December 2020 I got to play practices at La H, Hilario Ulloa’s farm in Argentina, and I couldn’t believe the speed of the game. Believe it or not, those things made me fall in love even more with polo. My ultimate goal is to one day play the Argentine Open and for that I need to be 6 goals. Of course, another dream is for Robi to be 10 goals and playing together. "

“Being able to share your life with someone who has the same passion as you do makes polo more addicting for sure"

Louis’ life took a complete turn when he played polo for the first time, both on the field but also off the field. This year, while he was playing his first series of tournaments at IPC for La Fe, he met Pamela Flanagan the last days of March. An experienced polo player, Pamela was also in Wellington as she is part of the Hawaii Polo Life team that this year won the Women’s U.S. Open Polo Championship once again. Their love for polo and horses helped them connect immediately, and now they are living together and recently got engaged.

“Being able to share your life with someone who has the same passion as you does make polo more addicting for sure. Pamela is an amazing human being. The way she approaches the game and breeding, I think she knows more about the bloodlines than many pros, even. She is also a very hard player, we played together at Mashomack and she also subs for me,” Louis said to CLICKPOLO.

More than a polo player, Pamela is a horse advocate who founded the Rescue Polo Project where she saves horses from being delivered to slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada. Her first mare, Stella, even got to play in the Women’s U.S. Open Championship. “The work that she does rescuing horses is a big plus,” Louis added.

While Louis does travel for work to North Carolina, New Jersey and Boston, they are living together in Florida. Her life changed too, as Pamela was planning to return to Chicago full time where she works as an attorney and put a hold on her polo career, but she is now considering other options. “I may continue playing one more year before taking a break,” Pamela told CLICKPOLO.

Louis’ son, Ames, is the other pillar of his life. Ames might be too young to play, but he is La Fe’s first supporter and even took his place in the podium during the team’s recent triumph at Greenwich!

David Farache: "I’m not backing down now. I love this sport, I want to have my own organization with Louis and assemble a competitive team"

From 0 to 16 Goals in just a few months, this is the story of David Farache. David is Louis’ friend, business partner and now also polo partner. “I had no idea about polo. In fact, my only experience with horses were the times I rode as a kid. I watched a game for the first time on TV when Louis played the East Coast Open last year and. in January. I watched my first live match in Florida,” David told CLICKPOLO.

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Something immediately clicked for David, who was born in Caracas, Venezuela, but moved to the United States when he was 12 years old. “Louis and I have very aggressive personalities when it comes to competing. He knows me very well and encouraged me to play. I remember my first practice. I loved it and asked Robi to lend me a horse for a week. I went to practice every single day, even though I was very sore. From that moment onwards I never stopped playing,” David recalls.

David spent the next two months practicing with La Fe in Florida. “I got to play with Robi, Lucas, Fran and Baldo Palomeque and learnt a lot from them. They even lied to me, haha. They said I was ready to play competitive polo so they signed us up for the 8 Goal at IPC.” David named his team Dazos after the software company he owns alongside Louis. “It was a great experience. Even though we lost the two finals we played, I learnt a lot during those ten games. After that, we signed up for Mashomack. Everything happened very fast.”

David is 39 years old and, while he doesn’t consider himself a very sporty person, he believes the coordination from playing the drums and the strong legs he has as he surfed and skated has helped him develop as a polo player.

-David, how are you organized today?

"Starting with the first horse I bought from Robi in January, I now own seven, plus one more that will soon arrive from Argentina. It gives me confidence to have my own horses, and the ones that La Fe breed are incredible. I love the adrenaline polo gives you, but what I like the most are the horses. I think with La Fe and Dazos we are building a great organization and it feels more as a family than a business. This is what I cherish the most."

-How did you continue after the 8 Goal?

"I played two 16 Goal matches at Greenwich, and the level difference is enormous. My first match was against La Fe, as Adam Gibson from IGEA invited me to play. We lost, but it was a great experience, I think I doubled my level due to the speed the game is played. Gringo Colombres helped me a lot, he is such a great player."

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-What are your plans for the future?

"I’m not backing down now. I love this sport; I want to have my own organization with Louis and assemble a competitive team. I will play the 16 Goal Season next year in Wellington with Dazos, and we will see from that point."

-Has your life changed?

"It has changed completely; it all revolves around polo now. I plan my holidays depending on where our matches are. My daughter Zoe now goes to a polo school and my son Adam rode a couple of times too. I attend matches, got to know many teams. The interest grew and polo is now my favorite sport. My plan in the short term is to travel to Argentina to play some tournaments and my dream, of course, is to play the Open one day. "

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