Jan 30, 2020 7:45 PM

Lucas Escobar

At just 17 years old, 2-goaler Lucas Escobar has assumed the most coveted position in the 2020 GAUNTLET OF POLO® starting lineup, playing alongside Pilot’s Facundo and Gonzalito Pieres. Claiming 16 consecutive wins for a flawless record in 2019, Pilot is the reigning GAUNTLET champion, sweeping not only the three most prestigious tournament titles but $1 million dollars in prize money in the inaugural competition. Although playing at the 22-goal level for the first time Escobar is no stranger to the trophy stage, his notable wins including the 2019 Silver Air Pacific Coast Open, 2019 Farmers & Merchants Bank America Cup, 2019 Junior Westchester Cup (of which he was named Most Valuable Player) and the 2017 National Youth Tournament Series Championship. His father, Luis Escobar, receiving his first high-goal opportunity at 15 to play with Gonzalo Pieres, the third-generation polo player’s journey is taking shape with several similarities.

Facundo discusses strategy with Lucas Escobar during the Ylvisaker Cup.
Facundo discusses strategy with Lucas Escobar during the Ylvisaker Cup.

“I think it’s going to help him [Lucas Escobar] a lot to have the chance to play on a team like Pilot. He’s doing everything he can to improve and we’re going to help him as much as possible. It’s always nice to see young upcoming players improving their game and playing good polo.”  – Facundo Pieres

After hearing rumors that he might be selected for the opening on Pilot’s roster (joining Curtis Pilot and Facundo and Gonzalito Pieres), Escobar finally received the anticipated confirmation he had been hoping for in January. Having the chance to watch him play at both the International Polo Club Palm Beach (Wellington, Florida) and Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club (Carpinteria, California), team captain Facundo Pieres is focusing on taking his natural talent and molding it to Pilot’s style of polo. “Lucas’ hand-eye coordination is very good and he can hit any shot,” Pieres commented. “He’s really talented with the ball, he just needs some coaching on how to take the man stronger and create more space. He’s also teachable and can take direction which is very important for a player his age.” Practicing with the team almost every other day leading up to the GAUNTLET, Lucas Escobar will be playing a string of top horses from the Ellerstina and Pilot organizations. “Right now I have 12 horses that I played in the Ylvisaker Cup and I might receive a few more for the GAUNTLET,” Lucas Escobar said. “I have a few standouts, but my current favorite is a small chestnut mare named Tangera.”

Pilot's Lucas Escobar hits a deep neckshot.
Pilot's Lucas Escobar hits a deep neckshot.

Naturally following Pilot’s stellar 2019 season, there is an expectation riding on the team in 2020 to perform at or even exceed the level which was set. Learning how to execute Pilot’s winning strategy, Escobar as the new member of the team will have to keep with the pace of an established and fine-tuned organization. “I think there is a lot of pressure for guys playing at this level for the first time,” Pieres reinforced. “At this level it is very competitive and every team wants to win, especially Pilot because we won the GAUNTLET last year. I think Lucas will definitely feel the pressure, but we are going to try to help him use that pressure in a positive way. At his age if a player can channel that pressure positively it’s also good for his future.”

Although he will be competing against his son in the GAUNTLET, Santa Clara team captain Luis Escobar is proud of his youngest son’s achievement at such an early stage of his career. “It’s an amazing opportunity for him to play for Pilot,” Luis Escobar said. “He’s young, but he’s got everything to play in the GAUNTLET. It’s a fantastic opportunity for him to continue growing and maturing as a player.” Having a close relationship with his grandson, Francisco Escobar is also looking forward to the opportunity. “I am very proud of him because he’s not only a good player for his age, but he’s also a good student and son and that’s very important not only in polo,” Francisco Escobar said.

Facundo Pieres instructs Lucas Escobar at the field.
Facundo Pieres instructs Lucas Escobar at the field.

Anticipating his tournament debut with the Pieres brothers, Lucas Escobar is happy to see the fruits of his hard work paying off. “The only advice I have is to stay patient and keep working hard,” Lucas Escobar advised to those hoping to one day earn a career-changing opportunity. “Just wait for it and the opportunity will come if you do not give up.”

Watch Lucas Escobar compete with Pilot in their first game of the 2020 GAUNTLET OF POLO® on Saturday, February 8 at 3:00pm ET. Register at for free access to the livestream.

All photos ©David Lominska