x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Ignacio Heguy is a globetrotting polo player

The Argentine plays for a Saudi Arabian team, with matches in Dubai and trips to Europe planned.

Ignacio Heguy, who will play for Zedan against Habtoor in today’s final, won the Argentine Open four times in a team with his brothers.
Ignacio Heguy, who will play for Zedan against Habtoor in today’s final, won the Argentine Open four times in a team with his brothers.

Ignacio Heguy reckons he has the best job in the world. He travels the globe rubbing shoulders with the great and the good and is paid to embrace his passion.

Today, the Argentine, who is one of the world's best polo players, is starring for the Saudi Arabian side Zedan in the President of the UAE Cup and hopes to lead his new teammates to victory in the final at Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club.

"We want to win the tournament," said Heguy, whose presence has been a boon to team patron Amr Zedan.

"We have a good team and Amr makes us all feel at home and that helps a lot. We are having a good season. It takes some time to build a good organisation on the field but we are looking forward to having the best team in the UAE."

The much-anticipated final pits the tournament's only two unbeaten sides, Zedan and Dubai's Habtoor, against each other in what promises to be a mouth-watering feast of polo.

Heguy is a former 10-goal player who has won the Argentine Open, reputed to be the toughest tournament of all, four times. His family are considered polo royalty in Argentina and his father, Alberto Pedro Heguy, won the Argentine Open 17 times.

Heguy, 38, is rated on a par with Aldolfo Cambiaso and has clashed with the country's most famous polo export many times on the field of play.

After playing alongside his brothers in the renowned Indios Chapaleufu team for 15 years, and spending one season with last year's Argentine Open runners-up, Ellerstina, Heguy now plays for Zedan Polo, the Saudi team which is based in Dubai for the polo season.

"I only practised a couple of times with the Zedan team before the tournament but we have clicked together well," he said.

He is still working on the finer points of the transition after the years of easy communication and familiarity of playing alongside his three brothers.

"It's much easier to play with family and it's good fun because you have the chance to share a lot of things," he said. "When you win it is a big thing. It takes some time to play your best with a new team."

The switch, however, does not seem to have done any harm to his contribution on the field. The No 4 scored seven goals in his side's group victory over Dubai's Desert Palm and repeated the tournament record-equalling feat against Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

Now rated an eight-goal handicap, Heguy has played the sport all his life and said he is not even close to getting tired of it.

"I started to play polo before I learnt how to walk," he said. "All my family plays polo. It is in our blood.

"My job it's the best one in the world. I live outdoors in contact with my horses and I play polo four times a week.

"I spend a lot of time with my family here in Dubai, sometimes I am in England, sometimes I am in Argentina - what else could I ask for?"

The Heguy dynasty is now in its third generation. "My grandfather, Antonio Heguy, was the first," said Heguy, who is from Buenos Aires, the home of the famed Palermo Polo Club where the Argentine Open is staged.

"He won the Open once and then my father won 17 times and my brothers and I have won it four times."

While his polo prowess has already taken him to many places in the world, even more travel is in store for Heguy, who is soon to visit a new country as his patron plans to take the team to Saudi Arabia to spread the polo message there.

"We are going to play next season here in Dubai and we are planning to go to play in Europe later this year or the next," he said.

"Amr wants to bring good polo to Saudi Arabia to show his country this great sport too."

Heguy, who has also played for the royal family in Brunei and met a host of international royals and stars, said he was pleasantly surprised by the standard of polo in the UAE.

"The level of the tournaments is really good. There are good players and horses here and I think next year it's going to be better," he said.

"Wherever you go in the world and however famous or important the people you play against are, we all only want the same thing - to have fun playing polo and to win."

Zedan are the favourites to lift the cup today and for Heguy that would make the best job in the world even better.

The final starts at 5.40pm and is preceded by the subsidiary final between Ghantoot Land Rover and Dubai's Bin Drai which gets underway at 4pm.

Finals day is open to the public and admission is free.

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