For the Veuve of Polo
Posted on December 11, 2017
Widely acclaimed as one of the best polo players on the planet, Nacho Figueras takes the game and his role in the world of polo very seriously. Easily the sport’s most recognized player (one strawberry-haired British royal aside), Figueras sees himself as an ambassador to expand the public’s appreciation of the game. “It’s a big responsibility to spread the word and to send the right message for more people to love this sport of polo,” he says, so he carefully chooses which events to attend.
It’s hard to overstate Figueras’ ability to draw attention — and a crowd — to any match he decides to play. If he looks familiar, even for those who aren’t regular polo fans, it’s because he’s been the face of Ralph Lauren’s Black Label brand for more than a decade. If his superior talent on the polo fields doesn’t get everyone there, his natural charm and devastating good looks will do the trick.
Nacho Figueras at the Pendry San Diego
Figueras made a recent stop in San Diego before heading to Los Angeles to play in the 8th Annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic at Will Rogers State Historic Park this past October. The San Diego detour coincided with the Coldplay concert; the band’s front man, Chris Martin, is a personal friend. Figueras attended the show with his wife, former model and fellow polo player Delfina Blaquier. The chic Pendry San Diego downtown was the backdrop for our conversation about the event and his desire to grow the sport worldwide.
The partnership with Veuve Clicquot has been a significant part of Figueras’ focus on expanding the popularity of his beloved game in the U.S., which he sees as ground zero. “This is arguably the biggest market in the world for almost everything,” says Figueras. He’s been involved in the Classic since its 2008 debut in New York, when the inaugural match on Governors Island brought polo back to the site for the first time since the 1940s. The L.A. edition of the Classic was introduced in 2010. Both draw a star-studded crowd of 7,000 to 9,000 spectators, which makes them some of the best-attended matches in the world, according to Figueras.
“I don’t know that any event in the world is bigger for polo than this,” he says. “Maybe when I play with Prince Harry, it’s the only time that gets us as much attention too, but when you measure it, I think the Veuve Clicquot event is the polo event in the world with the most impact.”
Figueras also wants to debunk the perception that polo is only a rich man’s sport. “As a kid who grew up on a farm in Argentina, now playing polo with Prince Harry as equals on a polo field to help kids in Africa — how is that non-inclusive?” he says, matter-of-fact. As for gender equity, the 3,000-year-old game is very progressive. According to Figueras, every tournament in the world is open to men and women, and the sport’s popularity is growing rapidly for female players. “The U.S. Polo Association says that for every man who applies for membership, two women apply,” Figueras proudly notes.
Nacho Figueras at the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in L.A. this past October
This year’s Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic events coincided with the iconic brand’s introduction of two new Champagne offerings, Veuve Clicquot Rich and Veuve Clicquot Rich Rosé. Both were created with the specific purpose of being enjoyed in the spirit of mixology — over ice, and mixed with fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
Meeting expectations, Figueras was ultimately awarded MVP of the LA’s Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic, leading Team Veuve Clicquot to an 11-8 win. veuveclicquot.com Deanna Murphy
Portrait: Photo by Bob Stefanko Polo: Photo courtesy of Getty Images