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Hospice Cup Brings Ralph Lauren Ad to Life

Emily Miller
By Emily Miller
Posted on Jun 23,2010
Filed Under Local Sports,
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Photo by John Arundel <br />Beating the hooves at Great Meadow, <br />
Photo by John Arundel
Beating the hooves at Great Meadow,

ALEXANDRIA, VA. - Nacho Figueras, the face of Ralph Lauren and the world's most famous professional polo player, took the region by storm -- both literally and figuratively – on Saturday at Great Meadow Field Events Center in The Plains, VA., where an actual Ralph Lauren Polo commercial came to life.

The scene: drop-dead handsome men, clad in blue blazers, white pants, and black team polo shirts (natch). Pretty 20-something girls in very short silk dresses and very high stiletto heels circled the polo players like bees to honey.

Photo by John Arundel <br />Nacho Figueras, the face of Ralph Lauren and the world's most famous professional polo player, took the region by storm -- both literally and figuratively – on Saturday at Great Meadow Field Events Center in The Plains, VA., where an actual Ralph Lauren Polo commercial came to life.
Photo by John Arundel
Nacho Figueras, the face of Ralph Lauren and the
world's most famous professional polo player,
took the region by storm -- both literally and
figuratively – on Saturday at Great Meadow
Field Events Center in The Plains, VA., where
an actual Ralph Lauren Polo commercial came
to life.

Policy-wonk Washington has never had so many gorgeous, athletic men in one place; it was a DC-girl eye candy heaven.

The polo players were in town for Saturday's fourth annual Capital Hospice Polo Cup benefit match at Great Meadow. The hottie male players included sweet-natured Jose Lezcano and charismatic, turquoise-eyed Juan Salinas-Bentley.

Nacho, the most famous polo player in the world, both for his athletic prowess and for his face in ads for  Black Label Ralph Lauren and Polo Ralph Lauren ads that are taped to bedroom walls of teenage girls worldwide, played well for the crowd, winning the match with teammate John Walsh of America's Most Wanted.

Ignacio "Nacho" Figueras started riding horses in his native Argentina at age nine and by 15 he was playing polo regularly.  He travels year-round to follow the polo matches, mostly in the Hamptons, Palm Beach, England and Buenos Aries. Clearly a natural athlete, he also regularly plays tennis, golf and runs.  He practices polo every day and seemed almost apologetic to admit that he had not exercised Friday because he spent the day traveling.

"You have to have constant control of the horse, and good hand-eye coordination of the mallet," he said in his South American accent.

"Remember, it’s all moving at the same time- your horse, the ball and the other guys horses."  

Asked if he ever fell off the horse, Nacho responded, "Oh quite often. You know you can die from playing polo. It can be quite dangerous."

Nacho seems completely oblivious to his charm and attractiveness. He is focused on his goal of bringing attention to the sport of polo and to make it "more accessible to everyone, and not just the elite."

I wondered if Ralph Lauren's decision in the 1970s to make his corporate logo a polo player was helpful in making polo more accessible. Nacho said that Lauren is his partner in growing the sport of polo beyond the Palm Beach-Hamptons crowds. This is why, he said, Ralph Lauren sponsors their team "Black Watch."

He suddenly pushed back the blue blazer to show me the black shirt he was wearing with an oversized polo logo over his heart and the "Black Watch" emblazoned across his broad chest.

Photo by John Arundel <br />Nacho Figueras with John Walsh.
Photo by John Arundel
Nacho Figueras with John Walsh.

Unlike tennis, which changed from an elitist sport to mainstream, polo requires quite pricey things like ponies and fields. Nacho brushed off my question. "If you live in Texas or Virginia, you have access to horses. So you just need to buy boots and you can borrow a horse and a mallet."

I wanted to follow up by asking if he could name owners of expensive polo horses who would lend them out to strangers or move them to a polo field. But I just couldn't burst his beautiful Ralph Lauren ad bubble, so I just asked, "What brand of boots do you recommend?"

Nacho played a magnificent match, wowing the crowd, wielding the mallet like Sir Lancelot and making several goals with seeming ease. He had his horse at practically a 45-degree angle at times to reach for the ball.

Also playing in the match was Italian designer Salvatore Ferragamo, Jr., the grandson and namesake of the shoemaker who founded Florence, Italy-based Salvatore Ferragamo S.p.A., and John Walsh, the host of "America's Most Wanted," a show coordinated by Old Town's National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

After the match, Nacho and the other handsome players were mobbed by girls in desperate need of photos with him, and boys asking for his autograph on polo balls.



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