By Andrés Ugarte Larraín
The second Polo Challenge seasos is underway, and one of the players who decided to come back after a successful 2016 season is patron Ludo Pailloncy. The Frenchman reached the semifinals of the 22-goal Copa de Oro, sharing a team with Nacho Novillo Astrada, Lalo James and Gonzalo Deltour.
"I came over last year for the first time; Alfredo Vargas invited me to play the medium-goal tournaments. This year I had the opportunity to play the high goal so it was a nice step up. The whole organisation makes a big effort, so everyone has a good time, and the fields and infrastructure are getting better and better. It's a real pleasure to play in the Dominican and be part of such a competitive season.”
On his experience playing medium and high goal: "I played high goal for the first time in Deauville in 2001 with my brother (Sebastien Pailloncy), and then we started looking for a more complete and high level season, so we decided to go to UK. We went to Cirencester in 2008 before playing the Coupe D'Or in Deauville, then in 2011/12 we started playing the English high goal season to achieve a better level and maintain the same team all year round."
On playing in the Dominican while his brother is playing in Argentina: "I find it really nice. This is the first ever time that we have played in two different places simultaneously. We are wearing the HB shirt in both countries so that is a plus, another part of the growth and development of the team."
On his plans after the Polo Challenge: "After the season finishes here, we will head to UK, as the season starts at the end of April. We decided to take it down a notch this year; playing the high goal as two amateurs is a big effort, so we are going to play the 15 and 18-goals tournaments together and then see how we go. We will play the 15-goal alongside Max Charlton and Pedro Harrison, and in the 18-goal Michel Del Carril will sub in for Harrison. We have no plans after England yet. We will be there until the end of July, and are open to other options for August and September."
On the situation in England: "They all have to work in the same direction. At the end of the day what we all want is to have a good time: without the grooms you can't play, you can't make it to all the tournaments on time, you can't play with the pros you hired. Luckily it seems the problem is fixed now, so we'll see what happens. The English are particular, it's like they are trying to protect something we don't understand. If you choose to play in England it is because of the prestige and the competition, not because of the weather or the food! If it gets too much complicated we will just head to another place where we can have a good time. We are here to enjoy ourselves and have fun. That is the base of the sport. Polo is a very competitive hobby; we fight on the field, but it is still a hobby. It makes no sense to play where you are not comfortable."
On the possibility of playing with Sebastien, together and separately: "It is something we started to discuss last year. It would be nice to play together but also separately, as we are currently. That way we can have a balance; playing together is a real pleasure, it's very special to share games with your family. But there is a time during the season when you want to make something different and have the freedom to choose another place, just like now that Sebas is enjoying Argentina and I'm very happy here in the Dominican. Everything is necessary to keep the balance and the good atmosphere in the family."
On his future in the Polo Challenge RD: "I would love to come back next year because I had a great time this season. I give credit to Lechuza, I owe them a lot for giving me this opportunity."