We met Garrie Renucci on a windy and cloudy Sunday at Ham Polo Club, where he is a proud member. He just finished playing with his own team, Vendetta, and won the Petersham Bowl Cup.
GDP: Hi Garrie, let’s start from the beginning: what brought you to play polo? GR: During spring 2015, I was on a road trip in California, riding a Harley Davidson close to Santa Barbara and I got stuck in the traffic. The queue on the street was so long that I started wondering, What was the reason? and Where are all the people were going? I decided to let all the cars before me pick my destination and I ended up being at the famous Santa Barbara Polo Club. It was love at first sight. I immediately understood that polo was the perfect sport for me. Having a past as a football player, I noticed few similarities that made me want to learn how to ride, first, and then how to play. I’m fond of team sports and polo implies teamwork, discipline, strategy and coordination with your own horse. Back in the United Kingdom, I decided to join Ham Polo Club in London, started with my first lessons and with the idea of buying my own ponies. GDP: Even though you are a professional polo player yourself, do you have a favorite polo player? GR: I think everyone has a person to take inspiration from. In polo, my model and favorite player is Adolfo Cambiaso. I saw him playing various times at the Argentine Open. He is currently the best player in the world and a great ambassador for this sport. Through all his sacrifices he created a good breeding business from nothing. He promotes and evolves polo with style and determination. He inspires me to improve as a player. Moreover, there are many young British talents who are emerging in the polo arena. One of my favorites is Tomas Beresford, who played in the recent Cartier Queen’s Cup and has been awarded the Talacrest Best Young Player at the Polo Awards 2018. GDP: Your job in the property business obliges and, at the same time, allows you to travel a lot. Do you have time to visit new polo clubs during your trips? What’s your favorite polo club? GR: In fact, I feel very lucky being able to travel the world because of my job. Of course, I try to stop and visit as many polo clubs as I can, although it's not always possible. Recently, I have been to Argentina and New Zealand. I spent some quality time at Campo Argentino de Polo in Palermo and Waireka Polo Farm with the Vendetta team. GDP: Speaking of Vendetta, when and why did you decide to create your own polo team? GR: Having my own polo team has always been my dream since I started to play polo. As Cambiaso with La Dolfina, I decided to create Vendetta that in Italian means “revenge”. Two years ago, when it all started, I wanted an intimidating and captivating name for my team and something personal at the same time. My family and my roots are Italian and the decision to use the name Vendetta have allowed me to immediately set my priorities: discipline and determination to fight till the very end to win. I wanted my team to be colorful and exciting, a reflection of my personality. This is why I picked up the iconic pink and yellow. Today, too many teams choose conservative colors. I think this sport has to evolve to capture the interest of new sponsors and younger generations. Luckily Vendetta’s approach is paying off: my relationship with the sponsors is really strong and inspiring and many young rising stars want to play in my team, including for example the Gold Cup winner Jimbo Fewster. GDP: How do you select your players? GR: I care about individual abilities of the team members and their horses, but I’m more focused on having people who know what teamwork is and that are ready to fight on the field. Some players are from Ham Polo Club, some other come from different countries and sometimes we have guests. For me is really important that everyone has a good experience being part of Vendetta. The team is very inclusive and aims to teach its members and supporters the positive value of discipline. GDP: What are Vendetta’s plans for this season? GR: It can sound obvious, but we want to win as many tournaments and cups as we can. Even with just two years of professional activity, Vendetta has gained a relevant track record, winning several competitions in the United Kingdom. GDP: Garrie, you had the honor of being selected to represent London at Chestertons Polo in the Park. How did it happen? GR: La Martina, one of the main sponsors of this tournament, is currently also one of Vendetta’s sponsors. Considering the great relationship I have with this professional brand I was positively surprised and honored of being invited to play and represent London in the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park Team. GDP: Did you feel any pressure playing in front of so many people? GR: The atmosphere was great, even the weather was perfect! The public was supportive and cheered all the teams. It was nice to see Santiago Araya, directly from Argentina, representing his country. He is a wonderful player and a friend and I hope to play with him again very soon at Ham Polo Club. This experience was absolutely enriching and everyone had great fun. The sponsors couldn’t be more organised. Everything was perfect and all the players were taken in a good care. Hopefully, next year I will get the chance to play again at Polo in the Park! GDP: You are not new to representing your country: last year you had the chance to represent your own polo club, Ham Polo Club and England in America. How was it? GR: Yes, it’s true. I have been lucky enough last year to represent, along with few players from Ham Polo Club, our club and United Kingdom in a match against a representation of United States. The match was hosted at Newport Polo Club, Rhode Island. Our team won and I’m very proud of having been part of a great team. We really enjoyed our time in America and we I hope to get the chance of being involved in more international tournaments very soon. GDP: Last question, do you have any suggestions for young people approaching this sport and dreaming of becoming professional polo players? GR: Guys: train hard and play harder! Not everyone is meant to be a famous or best-in-class polo player, but what you can do is train to push your limits till the end. Moreover, don’t forget to be a good teammate: if you have skills but you don’t know what teamwork is, nobody will want to play with you. I think it’s really important to sacrifice our ego to something more important: the team. Even Cambiaso leave the ball to his teammates sometimes! And if you fall down, just keep practicing and training. No matter what get back on the saddle and fight till the very end!
Pictures from: Mark Greenwood, Mark Beaumont and Stephen Bartholomew