Nacho Figueras: A Caballo

The Polo Champion Spins a Sumptuous 180 in Matthew Donaldson's Slow-motion Epic

The bronzed Argentine horsemen that swarm Long Island’s polo fields each summer are the stuff of Jilly Cooper novels and palmists’ promises: tall, dark, handsome and—with the globe-trotting, sun-chasing lifestyle their sport affords—indecently glamorous. The most storied of all these Latin gods is Ignacio (“Nacho”) Figueras, who with his chiseled jaw, moody brown eyes and tousled locks is not only one of the world’s top 100 polo players (with a six-goal handicap), but the face of Ralph Lauren Black Label and Polo fragrances worldwide, and, according to a 2009 issue of Vanity Fair, the second most handsome man in the world. Born in Argentina, where polo rivals soccer as the national sport, Figueras began playing at the age of eight and became a professional at 17. He began his secondary career as a model in 2000 after being introduced to legendary fashion photographer Bruce Weber at a dinner party, and found that his raised profile enabled him to be an ambassador in the democratization of polo—he was the brains behind the annual Veuve Cliquot tournament on Governor's Island that has introduced the sport to a whole new generation of New Yorkers. Today we premiere A Caballo, a new film exclusive to NOWNESS, from photographer and filmmaker Matthew Donaldson, who celebrated the raw power of man and beast by capturing Figueras on one of his favorite horses (he has over 250) in minute detail. Meanwhile, we caught up with the polo star to talk style, travel and, of course, what makes the ideal equine partner.

What’s your earliest memory involving horses?

I remember being [taken] riding on my horse with my father before I could even walk.

Tell us the story of the horse you're riding in the video.

The horse is Vasco Negro. I have been playing with him for more than ten years here in the US. He is very loyal. His father is one of the most famous stallions out there—Pucara.

What makes for the best polo ponies?

Handiness and speed.

Your career highlight so far?

I have played polo all over the world in competition, but the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic is a proud moment because of what it represents on my mission of bringing polo to the masses.

Name one of your heroes on horseback.

General José de San Martin—the guy that freed Argentina as a country.

Most unusual place or circumstance you’ve ever played polo?

On South Beach, right in front of the ocean.

If you weren’t a polo player what would you be?

A painter or an architect.

What would be your ideal holiday destination?

The Hamptons: great people, beach and polo.

Three things you never travel without?

My iPad, my rosary, and my American Express.

What is your favorite place to go in Buenos Aires, and why?

My farm, because it’s where I breed my horses.

Describe your off-polo-field look.

I like to go more to the elegant side—a [Ralph Lauren] Black Label double-breasted suit is a good one.

Would you say you're crisply groomed or rough and ready?

Rough and ready.




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Conversations (11)

  • lj
    This has nothing to do with riding!!Where I come from it is called horse abuse.....How can any normal person consider using this awful film as promotional material, all it promotes is violence, stupidity and ignorance. Figueras and Donaldson are a couple of brainless pingouins (sorry for the pingouins!)
    • Posted By lj
    • February 04, 2012 at 5:16AM
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  • katharina benzinger
    This is not riding. Who want's to see this?
    • Posted By katharina benzinger
    • February 03, 2012 at 1:59PM
    • Share Comment:
  • Tim Hardy
    Having watched polo at the highest level ,I am always in awe of how these guys can ride like they do let alone perform some of the most amazing shots and display such ball skills at the same time.
  • SergVM
    Лошади! Какие невероятно грациозные и красивые...даже трудно их так назвать..."животные"!!! Не удивительно, что ряд марок вдохновляются их образом из года в год: Polo RL, Hermes и т.д. А сколько их, постоянных спутников людей, в произведениях искусства: гобелены, картины, статуи. Изящество и красота!
    • Posted By SergVM
    • February 02, 2011 at 1:48PM
    • Share Comment:
  • Save Horses from Nacho F.
    This man is not a horseman. He is an ego astride a horse. He should read "True Horsemanship Through Feel" which in part details the process of retraining a ruined polo pony, all done by a true horseman in his 90's.
    • Posted By Save Horses from Nacho F.
    • January 06, 2011 at 1:04AM
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  • intouch
    I can't imagine how anyone could think this promotes anything other than brutality. I hope that saddle hurts the rider as much as his appalling display of ignorance hurts his reputation.
    • Posted By intouch
    • January 04, 2011 at 9:19AM
    • Share Comment:
  • JennyK
    The man should be prosecuted for animal abuse. He has no regard whatsoever for the horse, he treats it as a spoilt kid treats an expensive trail bike, just a means of having his perverted version of fun. An appalling exhibition, I will never ever buy the products he promotes. And yes I do know what I'm talking about as I own horses. Multiple shames on you.
    • Posted By JennyK
    • January 04, 2011 at 4:03AM
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  • AnnLuc
    Awful riding, terrible horsemanship! The horse is in pain and struggling. This is an animal abuse NOT riding. Shame on you!
    • Posted By AnnLuc
    • January 04, 2011 at 3:43AM
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  • HorsieLisa
    I have to agree with the first comment, sure the guy is hot but this is AWFUL! There are times when this 'horseman' can barely stay on the horse, let alone ride. The horse is fighting his restraints obvious in slow motion. His mouth is tied shut, he is in a standing martingale and yet do we expect him to stay in a contact?! Have a look at the comments on Facebook. Many people have vowed never to buy any products that he is associated with ever again. Re-think this.
    • Posted By HorsieLisa
    • January 04, 2011 at 2:22AM
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  • vivalavidachica
    This is absolutely AWFUL! How can you call this person a horseman? He can barely stay on the horse, let alone ride. The way he is treating this horse is cruelty, which is even more obvious in slow motion. How can you people not see the pain in this horse's eyes? His mouth is tied shut but the bit is causing such pain that he is trying to open it. Have a look at the comments on Facebook. Many people have vowed never to buy any products that he is associated with ever again. Re-think this. Do some research. And DO NOT call this person a horseman! He is nothing even remotely near it, as no horseman would ever treat a horse this way.
    • Posted By vivalavidachica
    • January 04, 2011 at 12:01AM
    • Share Comment:
  • Lyonel Tollemache
    Stunning, beautiful.....J'die.
    • Posted By Lyonel Tollemache
    • September 03, 2010 at 1:10PM
    • Share Comment:

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