Feb 26, 2021 4:00 PM

Trébol. ©David Lominska
Trébol. ©David Lominska

Given the name Trébol (Spanish for clover) by Memo Gracida, Felipe “Pipe” Vercellino’s chestnut stallion has brought him nothing but good fortune over their eight-year partnership. Sired by Ellerstina’s Open Especial (Sportivo x Luna) and out of Petaca, Trébol carries the bloodline of one of Gracida’s greatest mares of all time, a competitor in the U.S. Open Polo Championship®, British Open and Argentine Open. The only stallion in Vercellino’s string, the 11-year-old chestnut powerhouse is the young 6-goaler’s go-to spare, a fiery force of nature who often makes an appearance several times per game.

Traveling to play in the United States, Argentina and Vercellino’s home country of Chile, Trébol previously played 26-goal with Orchard Hill (2017), but 2021 marks his first GAUNTLET OF POLO® appearance. Characteristically quiet and easy to handle at home, Trébol is no pushover on the field, delivering on key plays that helped Farmers & Merchants Bank reach the 2020 Silver Cup® Semifinals. A standout throughout the 2020 Santa Barbara 12 and 16-goal season, Trébol closed out the year in the Kentucky Cup at Mt. Brilliant Polo Club (Lexington, Kentucky) and was turned out in preparation for the Florida season. Picking up right where he left off with a strong goal in the first chukker of Santa Clara’s opening game, Trébol is the good luck charm Vercellino counts on to give his teams an extra boost. Catching up at the start of the C.V. Whitney Cup®, the USPA learned about the 26-year-old’s introduction to polo and the moment he first laid eyes on the striking chestnut stud.

©United States Polo Association
FMB's Felipe Vercellino and Trébol charge ahead of Lucchese's Jeff Hall in the 2017 Pacific Coast Open Semifinal.

How did you get involved in polo?

“I started playing polo in my hometown of Rancagua, Chile, when I was seven years old. My father also started at the same time and although he had never played polo before he rode a lot of horses on the farm. One day we went to see a practice because we lived by a polo field and they asked my father if he wanted to try playing, so he and my uncle did. After that the entire Vercellino family began to play including my father, uncle, cousins and myself. My family put a polo field on our farm and we played frequently in Chile.

I was a fanatic about the horses and after school I would always go to ride and stick and ball. When I was 14 years old my father called a Chilean man named Martin Zegers who played in the United States to see if I could come help him. In 2009 I came for the first time to work as a groom in Santa Barbara, California, and in 2011 I returned again. Then I started coming every year so I’ve been in Santa Barbara for the last 10 years. One year I helped Paco Navarez and then I went with Pelon Stirling (he's married to my cousin) to Florida to work with his horses. I found my first job playing 12-goal with Lucchese in Alabama, Dallas [Texas] and Santa Barbara. After that year I sent horses from Argentina and Chile to the United States and I started playing more professionally. I played for two years with ERG and also with Antelope, Orchard Hill, Farmers & Merchants Bank and now Santa Clara.”

Trébol is always ready to go on the sidelines. ©David Lominska
Trébol is always ready to go on the sidelines. ©David Lominska

How did you come to own Trébol?

“I bought Trébol as a 3-year-old in Argentina from Memo Gracida. I really liked the bloodlines of his sire and dam because they are a really good combination. When I saw Trébol I immediately liked his conformation. He’s a beautiful polo horse, the kind of horse you are always looking for. He’s a good size for the game, strong and he moves well. When I first got him he was just learning to gallop and change leads so I would practice and stick and ball on him.”

“In my opinion Trébol has everything to become a top sire.”  – Memo Gracida

2019 Pope Challenge final non uspa
Vercellino takes the ball on the offside. ©David Lominska

How would you describe his personality and temperament?

“He has a very good temperament and everybody can stick and ball on him. I keep him in the front stall and he is always calm and quiet in the barn. He’s easy for a stallion because he never has an issue being around the mares. I can take him on sets with the mares and he walks easily with them. He never causes me any problems. Also, he loves to eat everything especially grass and grain.”

What are his best qualities on the field?

“He’s really powerful on the field and he’s always consistent. I can bring him out for two or three chukkers at a time and he never gives up and will always give more than one-hundred percent. I know him very well because I’ve been playing him for many years and that gives me a lot of confidence.”

©David Lominska
Vercellino prepares to strike the ball during the 2019 Pacific Coast Open. ©David Lominska

“Trébol is a really strong horse who runs really hard and is comfortable with the ball. He’s one of those horses that doesn’t get tired.”  – Felipe Marquez, FMB Too!

Why did you decide to play this season and how did you get the opportunity?

“Santa Clara called me to play with them this season and I thought it was a really good opportunity for me to compete in Florida! I think this is where every polo player wants to play in the United States so I’m really happy and trying to do my best so I can continue playing here!”

What is your favorite playing memory on him?

“In 2016 I won with Chile [Felipe Vercellino, Max Silva, Jaime García Huidobro, Matías Vial] over Argentina in the Copa de las Naciones. Having the opportunity to play on field one at Palermo is every polo player’s dream and it was even better to win for my country. I played Trébol in two chukkers of the final against Bartolomé Castagnola, Juan Martin Zubía, Eduardo Novillo Astrada and Joaquín Pittaluga. It was a really good day for the team and Trébol played well.”

If Trébol was a famous person who would he be?

“Cristiano Ronaldo the Portuguese soccer player because like Trébol everyone says he is attractive and he is very good at playing the game.”

“Trébol is a horse that plays very well, has a lot of speed and is very strong and powerful. He plays like his mother Petaca on the field.”  – Lucas Criado, Farmers & Merchants Bank

How are his offspring progressing?

“I have three four-year-old mares in Chile and another three in Argentina from him that are really good mares. They are still a little green, but they are doing really well doing stick and ball and practices. So far I’m really happy with Trébol as a father and I know he is going to be a good stallion to continue to breed in the future. Once his offspring start playing games I will know how good they are, but the process is going well so far.”

What are your plans for him in the future?

“I want to keep playing and winning tournaments here in the United States. When I retire my best mares I want to breed them to Trébol. I have a few of his offspring already who are promising, but I want to continue breeding him and make some really good combinations.”

Keep an eye out for Felipe Vercellino and Trébol throughout the remainder of the C.V. Whitney Cup®. All games of the 2021 GAUNTLET OF POLO® will be livestreamed on Global Polo TV.