Apr 16, 2021 7:35 PM

©David Lominska

A newer addition to Peke Gonzalez’s string, 8-year-old Carpacho (Dolfina Cuarteto x Machitos Alcaparra) has evolved from a promising green horse to one of the 6-goaler’s best in just three years together. Invited to try the bay gelding while playing in Argentina, Gonzalez jumped to make the purchase after immediately taking note of Carpacho’s supple mouth and ease of lateral movement. Competing with Gonzalez in two Argentine tournaments in 2019, Carpacho was among the four horses chosen to come to the United States through the assistance of a Team USPA grant. Although the pair only played three games with Postage Stamp Farm before the 2020 USPA Gold Cup® was canceled, Carpacho has excelled in his first full GAUNTLET OF POLO®, helping Scone reach all three finals and secure the 2021 USPA Gold Cup® and U.S. Open Polo Championship® trophies.

Ready and willing to commit to any play whole-heartedly, Carpacho is the 22-year-old’s second and sixth chukker weapon, typically doubled during semifinals and finals. Despite not having the classic polo pony build, Carpacho’s long neck and high-set head are surprisingly comfortable at high speeds, winning over Peke’s father Mariano Gonzalez after just a few practices. Spending the majority of 2020 turned out at Maureen Brennan’s Llangollen Farm in Virginia, Carpacho benefited from the extended rest after a long international flight and has returned this season in prime condition. Anticipating a long career ahead, Gonzalez is looking forward to Carpacho’s continued growth as he gains more experience in the seasons to come.

Peke Gonzalez's Carpacho watching intently during the 2021 GAUNTLET OF POLO®. ©David Lominska
Peke Gonzalez's Carpacho on the sidelines during the 2021 GAUNTLET OF POLO®. ©David Lominska

How did Carpacho come to be in your string?

“I bought Carpacho in Argentina from Tero Magrini [Juan Cruz Magrini], Matias Magrini’s brother, and he is from Lucas Monteverde’s breeding. When I was playing in Argentina in 2018 Tero called my father [Mariano Gonzalez] and said, ‘I have a green horse that might work for you or Peke if you want to come try him.’ When I got on him I really liked that he moved really well sideways, had a great mouth and was very relaxed and calm. We bought him at the end of the season and turned him out and then I played him the following year in the Municipalidad del Pilar Cup and the Copa Cámara de Diputados. I was able to fly Carpacho and three other horses to the United States with a Team USPA grant. His GAUNTLET OF POLO® debut was in 2020 with Postage Stamp Farm in the USPA Gold Cup®. I played him in the three games before the tournament was canceled due to COVID-19, but the idea was for him to play both the USPA Gold Cup® and the U.S. Open Polo Championship®.”

What are Carpacho’s greatest strengths on the field?

“He's a very complete horse and really comfortable to ride. He has a lot of speed, a great mouth and he's really good moving sideways - his steps are very firm. You can get a good ride off or even make a quick turn and then take off running really fast and stop. You can do basically whatever you want on him because he gives you that opportunity. He's always ready for you.”

Peke Gonzalez flipping the ball into the goal during the 2021 GAUNTLET OF POLO® on Carpacho. ©David Lominska
Peke Gonzalez flipping the ball into the goal during the 2021 GAUNTLET OF POLO® on Carpacho. ©David Lominska

Describe his personality?

“He’s really quiet at the field and he can adjust to fit my horse list - you can place him wherever you want. If you don't know him it may seem like he’s going to buck you off at the beginning of the season because he swings his tail around, but he won't do anything. At the start of the GAUNTLET he did great as a spare and now I'm doubling him and he has continued doing well.

He gets a little hot at the beginning when you ride singles. He will pull you around a little bit because he wants to go, but he doesn't do much more than that.”

Peke Gonzalez and Carpacho taking the ball away from Coca-Cola's Julian de Lusarreta. ©David Lominska
Peke Gonzalez steals the ball from Coca-Cola's Julian de Lusarreta defending. ©David Lominska

Do you have a favorite playing memory on Carpacho?

“I scored a goal in the USPA Gold Cup® Final that I was really happy about against Tonkawa. Also he performed really well in the USPA Gold Cup® Semifinal against Park Place in the sixth chukker. I made a play where I turned for my own backshot and then we got a foul. Although I missed the Penalty 3 he did a really good job that day. It was key for me to give him confidence and keep him going for the game. It was a really close game and Carpacho really helped me get into the game and try to finish that sixth chukker.”

©United States Polo Association

Have you seen any improvement in him from last season to this season?

“I think this year he’s playing a little better, but I’m not sure if it's because of how the flight from Argentina impacted him last year. Sometimes the flight doesn't have much effect on one horse and the other three are tired. It depends on how each horse takes it. But usually, the first year is a little tougher for them to adjust.

Luckily, I only played Carpacho in three games last year because he felt a little heavy in comparison to the other horses that had already played in the C.V. Whitney Cup®. He was still good during that time, but he has become more solid because he had a year of rest.”

Where do you hope to see him in the future?

“I hope he continues improving because he's still young for a gelding. He might be even better next year, but right now the plan is to keep playing in the GAUNTLET OF POLO® so he can improve even more. After the Florida season he will go back to Llangollen Farm in Virginia and if I have the opportunity to play this summer in the 16-goal I will definitely take him to Santa Barbara [Polo & Racquet Club in Carpinteria, California].”

*Peke Gonzalez is an Active Team USPA Member. Team USPA is a USPA program designed to enhance and grow the sport of polo in the United States by identifying young, talented American players and providing mentored training and playing opportunities leading to a pool of higher rated amateur and pro players and the resultant giveback to the sport of polo.