By Alejandra Ocampo
As is usual at this time of year, Charlie Hanbury is back to Argentina. He will be playing the Copa República Argentina, the world's only 0-40 goal tournament, with Indios Chapaleufu II El Remanso, in a lineup comprised by Charlie, Eduardo Heguy, James Beim and Rufino Bensadon. The tournament is an ideal warm-up prior to the upcoming season in England, where he is due to play with James Beim, James Harper and Ollie Cudmore, the all-British foursome El Remanso.
Charlie is also a renowned and passionate horse breeder - his breed Lovelocks is based in both Argentina and England, and has had great success over the years; they are equipped with the best bloodlines in Polo.
PoloLine met up with Charlie to talk about horses.
Can you describe your ideal polo horse?
A horse that is comfortable to ride and gives 110% every time you play it. You need to have confidence in the horse you're riding and you will play better.
What do you think is the most important characteristic a polo horse should have?
They need to be agile, fast and be able to stop in a second. They also need to be tough and enjoy competing against other horses.
What is your ideal number of horses for a string?
In England I have fourteen horses in work, ten of these only play the High Goal, the other four play the medium goal and are used as 'back up' if there are any injuries. Some of them are young ones coming up and others are older ones I've dropped down. It's a good number as I can play practices most days.
On average, how many new horses should you have coming into your string each season?
I think if you are able to bring 2 or 3 horses into your string each season then it makes a big difference. You have to bring them in at the top and drop the bottom ones out. That is the only way you can improve your string.
What is the most important stage in the training of a polo horse?
It's all very important, however the last stage is the hardest, as if you push them too early they may not be able to deal with the pressure and you can ruin a horse in one chukka.
Which is or has been your favourite horse and why?
I have a few, but my favourite is a mare from Ellerston called Tory (Norman Pentiquad x Victoria). She played with me for eight years in England, Spain and Argentina. I now have her offspring coming through and they are looking very nice. I also have a gelding called Clarito that I bought over to England to play the Pony Club, he played two chukkas in The Queens Cup Final when I won with Apes Hill, he is now a "godfather" to the yearlings and keeps them in shape!
Which is the best polo horse you have seen play and why?
I think it has to be Dolfina Cuartetera; she seemed to do everything. She won games for La Dolfina and it was amazing to watch Adolfo on her - he could do anything. She also managed to be his best horse for 9/10 years which is incredible at such a high level.
Is there any horse you saw play that you would like to try?
I would obviously love to play Dolfina Cuartetera to see how amazing she is. On a more realistic level, Adolfo also has a stallion with Valiente called Dolfina El Ventura. I saw him being ridden as a 3 year old and he looked great, and we have some foals by him that are fantastic. I would like to see how he is to play. Dolfina Boeing also looks like a lot of fun!