Memo Gracida in CLICKPOLOUSA!
After reading that Adolfo Cambiaso is back in the US for the 2018 season, I was reminded of the first time I saw him. It was 1991 and I was in Palm Beach playing for Diable Bleus in the prestigious Gold Cup. It was the heyday of polo and Palm Beach Polo and Country Club was booming with around 20 teams entering this tournament. Our team had a practice at my former property, La Herradura, in Wellington. At that point in time, I was completely focused on being the best, having the best organization, and winning as many tournaments as I could, so very few things could me to get out of my driven routine. That was the case of our team practice that day until I saw a 16-year old 4-goal player enter the field. That day I saw a polo genius in the making.
Much like now, Cambiaso was pure muscle and had the strength of an adult at an early age. He was hungry and full of guts and passion. His eye/hand coordination was unlike any player (or athlete of any sport) I have ever seen. Each moment I shared the field with him some 27 years ago he got better and better. He was absolutely incredible and I knew immediately that I was watching what would become arguably the best player in the history of polo.
Today, Adolfo is still as determined, passionate, and incredible as he was nearly 30-years ago. My dear brother, Carlos, considered Adolfo a “fluke,” because he can make impossible plays possible, using both orthodox and unorthodox techniques. He can use his horse, his body, and his magnificent eye/hand coordination to do the impossible. There is no other player who has these uncanny talents and abilities.
Cambiaso has also become a keen horseman. He has top horses, yet he never ceases searching for the next champion pony and he doesn’t just stick to using his homebred horses. He will travel near and far to continue improving his string because he knows that his horses must possess the same level of talents as he does.
But, what truly makes Cambiaso the best is his ability to constantly adapt. I have seen him be an offensive player, an individual player, and a team player, all determined by the opposition he is facing. He continues to push and evolve and this chameleon-like adaptability makes him nearly impossible to beat.
I have played with and against him and, now that I am retired and watching him from the sidelines, I truly enjoy seeing Cambiaso’s ability to constantly improve. This past summer, I had the pleasure of playing a practice with Adolfito at beautiful Piocho Ranch in Santa Ynez, California. It was beautiful, open polo. We were passing the ball to one another, hitting backhands, enjoying the horses, playing as a team. I am not certain I will have the opportunity to be on the field with this genius again, but I am so grateful to have had one more chance to call him a teammate. Adolfo, it has been a true honor to watch you become the greatest player in the sport. Bravo. Thank you for the memories and good luck with your 2018 season.