VF Daily


Polo's 10 Hottest Horsemen

preppy-sports-crest2.jpgAll eyes at Saturday’s Veuve Clicquot Manhattan Classic polo tournament will be on Prince Harry, who touches down in New York tomorrow on his first official visit to the United States. But Harry isn’t polo’s only well-bred rider. Herewith, a field guide to the 10 biggest studs on the polo circuit. Giddyup! Plus: Don’t know a chukker from a handicap, from the number-three guy? Nacho Figueras explains the sport of polo to VF Daily.

  • NAME: Ignacio Figueras. AGE: 32. HANDICAP: Six. RELATIONSHIP STATUS: Married to Delfina Blaquier. NICKNAME: Nacho. THEATER OF OPERATIONS: Neil Hirsch’s Black Watch team, which he plays for year-round as captain. CLAIM TO FAME: His chiseled jawline. ROYAL RELATIONS: He’s hit the ball around with Prince Harry and Prince William. He’s also saddled up next to players who say they are royals—but let’s just say he hasn’t seen their paperwork yet. MODEL RELATIONS: The sport’s best-known ambassador, Figueras has appeared in Ralph Lauren’s Black Label ads since 2005, and recently he was made the face of Ralph Lauren’s Polo fragrances. CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE: He is a god in Bridgehampton, New York, where he’s single-handedly responsible for the droves of women who flock there during the summer months. Photo by David Lominska/polographics.com.
  • NAME: Facundo Pieres. AGE: 23. HANDICAP: 10. RELATIONSHIP STATUS: Dating Paula Chavez. INTERESTS: Beating Adolfo Cambiaso and winning everything. MODUS OPERANDI: Quiet off the field, but a firecracker on it. FAMILY TIES: Son of the legendary polo player Gonzalo Pieres Sr. His older brother Gonzalo Jr. and cousin Pablo MacDonough are both 10 goals, too. TROPHY CASE: Currently ranked No. 1 in the world. Last year he won the Argentine Open, the Queen’s Cup, and the Tortugas Open. He recently won the 2009 U.S. Open with team Audi. WORLD-DOMINATION WATCH: One of the best to ever play the sport, Pieres is only getting better. Photo by Lucy Gardner/lucygardner.com.
  • NAME: Nic Roldan. AGE: 26. HANDICAP: Eight. RELATIONSHIP STATUS: Taken. LITTLE BUDDY: Prince Harry. Roldan is the captain of the Sentebale team, which the Prince is playing on this weekend in New York City. CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE: Roldan manages to focus on his game with laser precision, unruffled by the weekly ritual of women throwing themselves at him in Wellington, Florida, America’s unofficial horse haven. TROPHY CASE: He won the CV Whitney Cup and the Pacific Coast Open in 2007 and the Ylvisaker Cup in 2008. Photo by David Lominska/polographics.com.
  • NAME: Cristian Laprida Jr. AGE: 24. HANDICAP: Eight. RELATIONSHIP STATUS: It’s complicated. NICKNAME: Magoo. CLAIM TO FAME: Hypnotic blue eyes. TROPHY CASE: In 2008, he won the Camara de Diputados Cup with La Baronesa and the CV Whitney Cup with Isla Carroll. PET PROJECT: Keeps a string of horses in Palm Beach. FUTURE MOVES: Playing this season in England with Dubai alongside the Tiger Woods of polo, Adolfo Cambiaso. Photo by By David Lominska/polographics.com.
  • NAME: Aldolfo Cambiaso. AGE: 34. HANDICAP: 10. RELATIONSHIP STATUS: Married to South American model Maria Vazquez. NICKNAME: Dolfi. STREET CRED: Reached his 10-goal ranking at age 17. TROPHY CASE: Currently ranked No. 2 in the world, he has a total of 31 Grand Slam titles (British Open, Sotogrande Gold Cup) and Master Series wins (Argentine Open, U.S. Open, Hurlingham Open, U.S.P.A. Gold Cup, Tortugas Open). ACCESSORIES: The Jaeger Le Coultre–sponsored player swings a Zappala 52 mallet and wears Franklin gloves. Photo from Polophoto.co.uk.
  • NAME: Javier Novillo Astrada. AGE: 33. HANDICAP: Nine. RELATIONSHIP STATUS: Married to Delfina Rodriguez. FAMILY TIES: One of the famed Novillo Astrada brothers. TROPHY CASE: Won the British Open three times and topped off 2008 with the U.S.P.A. Gold Cup and Hurlingham Open. PAST LIFE: He put himself in the books in 2003 thanks to a rare Triple Crown win—the Argentine Open, Hurlingham, and Tortugas Opens—with his team La Aguada. Photo by Sergio Llamera/SLphotosports.com.
  • NAME: Oli Hipwood. AGE: 35. HANDICAP: Five. RELATIONSHIP STATUS: Married to model Samantha Gibbins. FAMILY TIES: Son of revered English nine-goaler Howard Hipwood. RUMOR HAS IT: Before marrying Gibbins in 2007, he dated royal pony girl Zara Phillips. PAST LIFE: He won the British Gold Cup in 1995 at age 18 with the Ellerston White dream team of Carlos Gracida, Gonzalo Pieres, and Kerry Packer—three of the sport’s legends. Photo by Tony Ramirez/imagesofpolo.com
  • NAME: Sam Hopkinson. AGE: 27. HANDICAP: Six. RELATIONSHIP STATUS: Dating Beth Campbell. THEATER OF OPERATIONS: Based at the Auckland Polo Club, he’s quickly making his mark in the U.K., at the Cirencester Polo Club, and in Australia, at Jamie Packer’s Ellerston club. TROPHY CASE: He won the Savile Cup and the New Zealand Open. INTERESTS: All Blacks rugby. DOPPELGÄNGER: James Franco. From Polophoto.co.uk.
  • NAME: Julio Gracida. AGE: 22. HANDICAP: Five. RELATIONSHIP STATUS: Single. FAMILY TIES: Scion of the Mexican Gracida polo dynasty. INTERESTS: Breaking his dad Memo Gracida’s record of 16 U.S. Open wins. MODUS OPERANDI: Always at the ready with a quip. TROPHY CASE: Won the U.S. Open in 2005 at age 18 with Peter Brant’s White Birch team and clinched the Iglehart trophy earlier this year with his uncle Carlos. Photo by David Lominska/polographics.com.
  • NAME: Rob Archibald. AGE: 25. HANDICAP: Six. RELATIONSHIP STATUS: Single. THEATER OF OPERATIONS: He divides his time between the U.K., Australia, and Argentina, where he plays with polo god Bautista Heguy. TROPHY CASE: The rising star of Australia—he’s been playing the sport professionally only since 2002—Archibald won the French Gold Cup at Deauville in 2007 and represented Australia at the Coronation Cup in 2008. Photo By M.Yanagisawa/mmyphotography.com.


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