How Argentinian Polo Player Juan Britos is Preparing for the NZ Polo Open

Polo star Juan Britos is one to watch at the 2017 Land Rover NZ Polo Open

Polo player Juan Britos. Picture / Olivia Radford

The Land Rover NZ Polo celebrates its 40th anniversary this year and come Sunday, the event will welcome a mix of top local and international polo players, including one promising star, 24-year old Argentinian wunderkind Juan Britos, who is part of the Semco PDL team. With a handicap of seven goals under his belt and as one of the sport's brightest stars, Juan is one to watch. Spending his time travelling the polo circuit between Australia, England, Germany and Spain, Juan returns for his second NZ Polo open and took time out to chat to Viva about this year's prestigious event, along with his plans to conquer this year's prestigious Copa Camara de Diputados tournament, the highest ranked polo match in the world. When he's not travelling the world playing the game, his off-duty time is spent playing his other sporting passion, soccer. So what's the young polo sensation looking forward to at this year's event? "Playing with my team, having fun and winning!"

I started playing polo... when I was 13. I’m not from a polo family and my father didn’t play, but he always wanted to. He gave me much of his time and support to get me started in polo, something I will always be grateful for. I love the challenge of the game, the horses the speed, the skill, the people. Polo is my passion and it is a great privilege to play.

This is my second time in New Zealand... and playing in the Land Rover NZ Open. Winning last year was incredible. The Open is one of my favourite tournaments, and it is a great competition with an amazing atmosphere. I am lucky to be playing here again.

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On the day of the match... I prepare by cleaning my boots, watching polo videos, listening to music and eating pasta!

I look up to and have worked for ... Lolo Castagnola (Argentine 10 goaler). I met him by chance in Bueno Aires in my early days and we got talking. He asked me to work for him even though he had never seen me ride. Hilario Ulloa (Argentine 10 goaler) has been a big influence also, and James Beim has been amazing. He’s a 7 goal England captain and I played with him during last year’s NZ Polo Open.

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The differences between how Argentinians and New Zealanders play the game... is that we are lucky in Argentina as it has a long history with polo and many of the best players in the world come from there. There are more horses and more players starting younger, so the competition level is high and it is very competitive.

In Argentina I have... 10 playing horses and four young ones.

Juan Britos in action. Picture / Supplied.

I have been very lucky to travel... and play around the world. Each place has its own highlights: Australia, UK, China, Russia, Germany, Spain, Chile, US. I love New Zealand, the people are so friendly, and it is one of the best places.

As a young player... it’s important to focus on the moment, not on the whole game. I am always looking to improve my riding and my polo skills, so I listen to advice. I am lucky to learn from many people.

My strength is... on attack. I like to be organised and moving quickly to the next play. I like playing as a team the most, trying your best for the team and of course I enjoy winning.

My favourite food is... sushi.

I’m currently reading... Rafa by Rafa Nadal

My goals for the rest of the year... is to continue to improve my polo playing and to win the Copa Camara de Diputados, the 24 - 29 goal tournament held in Argentina each year, and the highest ranked polo match in the world. To win the Copa Camara gives any player the perfect opportunity to be part of a Argentine Open team in the future.

Juan will be playing with the Semco PDL team at the land Rover NZ Polo Open this Sunday, where Viva editor Amanda Linnell will be judging the Viva Fashion on the Field - find out how to enter here.

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