updated 15 Jun 2010, 16:45
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Sun, Jun 13, 2010
Urban, The Straits Times
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Macho nacho
by Rohaizatul Azhar

Tall, dark, handsome and with a perfectly tousled mane, his are the kind of smouldering good looks found most often on the covers of romance novels.

No wonder Argentinian polo star Ignacio 'Nacho' Figueras is the face of Ralph Lauren fragrances.

He does not seem to think much of his looks though. 'There are other attractive men out there. And these things are not as important as my family and my sport,' the 33-year-old insists.

Figueras was in town to play in the week-long Audemars Piguet International Polo 2010 tournament and spoke to Urban last week at the Singapore Polo Club.

He was dressed in his team uniform, which is a Black Watch team polo shirt, a pair of white riding pants and leather riding boots. The Black Watch team is a top team and sponsored by Ralph Lauren.

Striking a dashing figure is as close as Figueras comes to living up to the stereotypical image of polo players as rich playboys.

He says: 'My family is everything to me. Whenever I travel, we go as a family. Spending time with them is as important as the polo matches I play.'

For his maiden trip to Asia, he brought along his wife, Delfina Blaquier, 29, and their newborn son, Artemio. Their other two children - son Hilario, 10, and daughter Aurora, five - are back home in Argentina.

Figueras, born and raised on a farm outside Buenos Aires by his agriculturist father and housewife mother, is the eldest of three children and began playing polo at the age of eight.

He honed his skills in his home country. By the time he turned 17, he had moved to Paris, turned professional and made a name for himself on the circuit.

On his decision to be a polo player, Figueras says: 'I have always loved horses and I knew I wanted to be a sportsman at a very young age. I played tennis and I was really good at track and field in high school. However, my passion for horses, coupled with my desire to become a sportsman, led me to polo.'


This passion has also brought him international recognition. His team, Black Watch, is one of the toughest and most skilful teams around and his six-handicap puts him in the top 3per cent of the world's polo players.

His chiselled good looks caught the eye of American fashion photographer Bruce Webber during a dinner party in 2000, leading to an invitation to walk the runways for American fashion label Ralph Lauren.

In 2009, Figueras was named brand ambassador and the face of the label's fragrances, a position he still holds today.

Last year, readers of Vanity Fair magazine voted him the second most beautiful man in the world, beating Brad Pitt and only losing to Robert Pattinson, the star of the Twilight movies.


However, Figueras says he is more interested in promoting polo, a sport he is deeply passionate about. 'It is like what Tiger Woods has done for golf. He is a sportsman who has endorsement deals and with that, he tries to increase the sport's popularity and change its image.'

He has his work cut out for him though. After all, the sport, often played behind the gates of private clubs to a crowd of white-gloved and hat-wearing socialites, is known as a rich man's game.

'Maybe the venue requires you to put on a jacket or wear a hat but polo itself is for everybody,' explains Figueras. 'The first thing we need to do is to bring polo to the people. You have to create awareness for the sport.'

His celebrity status helps. Friends like actresses Kate Hudson and Eva Longoria often attend his matches, attracting media coverage.

Figueras is slowly seeing the fruits of his labour.

He has been featured on talkshow queen Oprah Winfrey's show due to his polo-promoting efforts.

In May last year, he helped organise the free Manhattan Polo Classic tournament which saw more than 5,000 spectators from all walks of life.

The Singapore match he played last week at the Singapore Polo Club was also free and open to the public.

'It just takes one little boy to see the game and like something about it. If it makes him want to play the game, my job is done,' he says.

When asked if his elder son, Hilario, will follow in his footsteps, Figueras says: 'He plays polo and he loves riding horses but I don't know if he wants to be a polo player.

'His happiness is more important to me. If he decides to be a polo player, that would be great. If he wants to be a violinist, that would be fine too, as long as he is happy.'

This article was first published in Urban, The Straits Times.

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