By Alejandra Ocampo
Hilario Ulloa is not only a talented 10-goal player, but also a great rider, with a wide knowledge of horses. Son of the renown trainer Polito Ulloa, Hilario carries a love of horses in his blood.
After a great Argentine season alongside Alegria, where he proved he is worthy of his handicap, Ulloa has landed State-side. He will play the 20-goal season with Villa Del Lago, and the team has already got off to a great start, winning the Herbie Pennell Cup.
Ulloa, now playing the Joe Barry Memorial Cup, took the time to talk to PoloLine about horses.
Can you describe your ideal polo horse?
Comfortable; a winner; a horse that makes you play well.
What do you think is the most important characteristic a polo horse should have?
I particularly love horses with low action, that are comfortable and loose, with a lot of curve. I like horses that accelerate while turning, are soft in the mouth, and are quick off the mark.
What is your ideal number of horses for a string?
Abroad, it is ideal to have twelve good horses. It is an easy number to manage and you can focus on each horse individually and get the best out of each one. You would be a bit tight with less, but then again, fewer horses means better care.
I like having eighteen in the Triple Crown; I keep six for Hurlingham and Palermo, and have twelve to start Tortugas. When I finish Hurlingham I keep twelve for Palermo, that way I can get the best out of each one.
On average, how many new horses should you have coming into your string each season?
You should have two or three new horses coming into each string each season. That is the ideal number to keep things fresh and keep the horses in good condition.
What is the most important stage in the training of a polo horse?
I think that the final stage is the most important, when you push the horses and see how they react. The whole process is important for the horse, but I see the most errors in this last part. Sometimes too much pressure is put on the horse and they don’t respond well; they are then left with tics for their whole career.
Which is or has been your favourite horse and why?
My favourite horse is undoubtedly Lavinia Naipe. He has been with me my whole career in Palermo; I always played my best chukkas on him. He came through every time I needed him. He is a winner.
Which is the best polo horse you have seen play and why?
Dolfina Cuartetera, without a doubt. She is the mare that stands out the most on the field and the one who was the best for the longest time. It’s amazing how long Cuartetera was the best mare. I also love Moscu; I played her and thought she was amazing, even though she did not keep her level as long as Cuartetera did.
Is there any horse you saw play that you would like to try?
I would have loved to ride Cuartetera. I was lucky enough to play Moscu one year in England, with Zacara.