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Catherine Zachariadis
July 17, 2015
Cambiaso’s Clones Strut the Runway in Vanity Fair Magazine
By Catherine Zachariadis
Friday, July 17, 2015 :: Posted 03:39:39 PM UTC

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Wellington, FL - July 17, 2015 - First and foremost, I am a horse enthusiast. Second, I am a fashion enthusiast. So naturally I was excited to see a teaser on the cover of the August 2015 issue of Vanity Fair magazine that reads “Double Trouble on the Polo Circuit” by Haley Cohen. As gossipy as its title may sound, the article is just the opposite. It is as straightforward, informative and thought provoking as they come.

As I turned to page 88 of the iconic fashion and society magazine, a striking photo of two literally identical bay polo ponies popped from the page, clearly deciphering the cryptic teaser. Adolfo Cambiaso’s reputation for cloning the best polo ponies in the world has officially broken the mainstream media seal.

© Vanity Fair Magazine: August 2015 Vanity Fair coverThe 2015 August issue of Vanity Fair magazine complete
with Channing Tatum and a polo teaser.

The feature opens with the dramatic and somber tale of the loss of Cambiaso’s favorite stallion, Aiken Cura, at the final of the 2006 Campeonato Argentino Abierto de Polo (Argentine Polo Open Championship). Although he did all he could to save the horse, whose leg had to be amputated below the knee, the only thing salvageable was the stallion’s cells. Call it a sixth sense, hopefulness, desperation or luck. Whatever the case, Cambiaso did the right thing by saving the horse’s cells and putting them into a deep freeze.

When I opened Vanity Fair, I did not have high hopes for how it would present a polo-related article. Don't get me wrong. I love the glamour of the “Sport of Kings" as much as anyone, but it's about time that polo’s image take on a more significant light.

Within the polo media, we tend to take ourselves pretty seriously. Books come out on a regular basis teaching us to improve our swing or reviewing a popular veterinary practice. So cloning isn't such a new concept for us. After all, Cambiaso's gospel travels far and wide . . . and fast.

© Alannah Castro/Phelps Media Group: Adolfo Cambiaso headshot A couple of months ago when Cambiaso proudly showed one of my colleagues a photo of his prized clone of his beloved Wembley, she commented, “Wow, it looks just like Wembley.” Cambiaso tersely replied, “It IS Wembley.”
Photo: Alannah Castro/Phelps Media Group.

The novelty here is polo being presented in a modern, scientific light. To see polo's top innovation in the pages of Vanity Fair with Channing Tatum on the cover gives us hope that polo will one day move past the floppy hats and champagne and be appreciated for the athletic, talented and hard-working people and animals that keep a 2,000-year old sport on the cutting edge.

The article unveils the dynamics that developed when Alan Meeker offered Cambiaso a full partnership in Crestview Genetics, the venture that would go on to be the market maker in polo pony cloning. Argentine businessman Ernesto Gutierrez later joined the duo when he purchased the first clone that Cambiaso and Meeker offered for sale at auction for the now famous $800,000 bid—reportedly the most anyone had ever paid for a polo pony. It was Gutierrez and his business savvy that completed the trifecta of these three ambitious men: the trio who would successfully clone the world’s most proven polo ponies, changing polo’s breeding standards forever and making their mark in the emerging field of biogenetics.

© Liz Lamont Images/Phelps Media Group: Adolfo Cambiaso_Best StringCambiaso was awarded "Best String" at the 2015 U.S. Open Polo Championship.
Photo: Liz Lamont Images/Phelps Media Group.

The five-page feature and photo spread delves deep into the nitty gritty of Crestview’s cloning operation. It presents the details on a platter for the reader to form his own opinion, served with a side of ethics and a splash of humor. Now the world knows how many times a week they actually clone, what percentage survives incubation and what kind of music they listen to while they perform the procedure. The article is peppered with more numbers than one would expect, such as the price tag of a clone’s foal—$80,000 each or three for $200,000. Everyone loves a special!

The writer offsets the seemingly super successful venture of cloning prized polo ponies with the drawbacks of cloning. Believe it or not, there are other people out there cloning horses with a slightly lower success rate and incident rate. According to Katrin Hinrichs, who was also interviewed, of her 20 foals that are clones, half had health problems and a quarter struggled with major, sometimes fatal, health challenges.

This, of course, hits home for most horse lovers who are reading this, as many of us have had an experience with an unsuccessful breeding attempt, birth or raising of a young foal. This is Vanity Fair magazine, however. No surprise, then, that the ethical and societal implications of human cloning are explored in the article. When Meeker is asked about human cloning, he intimates that maybe “in some dark corner of the world, scientists are trying.” And if you think about it, that’s pretty terrifying.

© Margata Polo Team: Adolfo Cambiaso and 6 Cuartetera clonesCambiaso and six Cuartetera clones. Photo: Courtesy of Maragata Polo Team.

Horses are for the most part trainable, and more importantly, don’t have ulterior motives. If you thought the controversy of nature versus nurture could be a tad complicated, try wrapping your head around this: a cloned person that retains cellular memories, intrinsic “shadow memories” that carry over from the original. There is the scientific belief, supported by the Crestview team, that certain experiences and conditions can cause changes to the way DNA works in their cells.” Consider this: Mariano Aguerre cloned his great gelding, Califa. The original Califa is terrified of garden hoses—and its clone is just as terrified.

The implications for human beings are mind boggling. Just imagine someone cloned from another who had traumatic experiences, or even positive ones. Either way, the clone has someone else’s experiences, which the brain may not be able to process in a healthy way. We’re opening up a whole new can of psychological worms here. At this point in time, I cannot see a reason to clone a human, but who knows what the future may bring?

Certainly it would be amazing to see Cambiaso fulfill his ultimate goal of playing a game on only Cuartetera clones. Fingers crossed that we see that one day.

© Margata Polo Team: Adolfo Cambiaso switches from the clone of Cuartetera to the original CuarteteraAdolfo Cambiaso switches from the clone of Cuartetera to the original Cuartetera at the Campeonato Argentino Abierto de Polo. Photo: Courtesy of Maragata Polo Team.


Catherine Zachariadis manages and writes for Born and raised in Wellington, Florida, she is a third-generation equestrian. The daughter of polo manager Marla Connor and former polo player Victor Connor, she has been involved in polo since early childhood. Zachariadis was also an accomplished hunter/jumper rider on the “A” circuit and still keeps three horses. Since 2011 she has assisted with the management at Gulfstream Polo Club. She graduated with double honors from Florida Atlantic University in 2012.

Follow for the next installment of her new column, Polo With Panache, for fresh insights about the fun, excitement and innovations in polo.

© Alex Lynch: Cat headshotPhoto: Alex Lynch

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