SPL 221015 POLO DAY-1 VSAKLANI (10)-1665861178368
Monte Carlo Polo team and Lan to Capital Polo team in action at Lan To Capital Luxury Polo Cup at Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club in Dubai. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Icecool Massimo Baggi showed his red-hot form by guiding his team Lan To Capital to a 6-4 victory against Montecarlo Polo in the Lan To Capital Luxury Polo Cup in collaboration with Monte Carlo Polo Federation at the Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club’s state-of-the-art polo fields on Saturday, that ushered in the new UAE polo season.

Baggi, the Swiss Ambassador to the UAE, scored three goals, two of the final chukker to give his team a brilliant win and set-up a rematch with Monte-carlo Polo in the final on Sunday.

Rishi Bhansali gave Monte-carlo the lead in an early lead in the first chukker and Mohammad Bin Drai levelled the scores just before the hooter, ending the first of the four seven-minute chukker level 1-1. Action picked up pace in the second and it was Lan To Capital who surged to the lead early in the second before ending it 3-1 by scoring another towards the end.

Monte-carlo, who missed a couple of opportunities, made amends in the second half. Rishi got into the act during the second half by scoring two goals in the third chukker to take his tally to three goals. His effort brought parity to the game as the chukker ended 4-4, setting up an intense battle in the final one. Baggi had other ideas and waited for the last to unleash his two goals to give his team a 6-4 at the end of the final chukker. Bhansali’s three-goal effort went in vain in the UAE’S first grand season opening event.

Baggi, however, refuses to take credit for his three-goal effort, saying “I was happy to be in this team, they helped me a lot to score three goals. It’s a team game. It depends very much on the dynamics that you have on the field. The team played very well and took advantage. It’s not me, but my team.”

But despite his tough daily schedule, Baggi takes time out to practice his passion, which began to take roots some 20 years ago when he was in India.

Good shape

“I tried to play at least twice a week and then I have to stay in a good shape, so I try to do some exercise every day. It’s a demanding sport and to enjoy the sport you have to keep yourself fit,” he says on his daily routine to excel in the sport that requires plenty of energy and very good horsemanship, to ensure that the polo ponies respond to them quickly.

Talking about his playing days in India, the Swiss Ambassador to the UAE said: “I started playing when I was in Delhi and then I have played in Rajasthan and West Bengal as I used to travel a lot. India remains in my heart and, of course, in Dubai and UAE you play excellent polo, so I enjoy it very much.”

It is only job half done for Baggi as he will have to produce a similar effort for Lan To Capitals against Monte-carlo Team on Sunday.

Monte-carlo Polo Team: Rashid Bin Drai, Khalid Bin Drai, Rishi Bhansali, Francesco Mitrano.

Lan To Capital Polo Team: Mohammad Bin Drai, Daniele Meena/Simon Beltley, Massimo Baggi and Valerie van Langenhove.