The Beckham of Polo

The sport’s leading man talks fashion, globe-trotting and raising polo’s profile.

YOU don’t need to be a staunch polo fan to know who Nacho Figueras is. Aside from being one of the top players in the world, the Argentine has become the poster boy for the sport – to the extent that fashion designer Ralph Lauren tapped him over a decade ago to become the real-life embodiment of the man on horseback in the label’s iconic logo. When he’s not appearing on shows like Oprah, you can find him in the pages of Vanity Fair, whose readers recently voted him the second most handsome man in the world.

The fashion world found me. I’ve worked with Ralph Lauren for 13 years. I was introduced to him by Bruce Weber and Lauren saw the potential of using a real life polo player to represent the brand. It’s been an honour for me to be able to do so, and do it for so long.

At the beginning, there was a mixed response to me modelling. A few people found it hard to understand but, as polo’s popularity started to increase, more players began endorsing brands. When I started working with Ralph Lauren I knew the collaboration could help raise the profile of the sport.

I think we’ve achieved a lot in terms of raising the profile of polo. I have made it my mission to raise awareness and tried to do as much as I can but there is a lot more work to be done. I am looking forward to the challenge.

I have always put polo first. My love for playing means the sport is always the priority.

Argentina is a great place to learn polo but we have more success abroad. That is why Argentine players travel so much. I spend four months in the US and the rest in Argentina. Recently, though, I’ve been to Paris and I’m am flying to London in May to play Gaucho Polo. Interview by Naomi Mdudu

■ See Nacho play at the HPA Gaucho International Polo event at the O2 on 21 May. The festival of music, wine tastings and international polo begins at 5.30pm, with the evening climaxing with the headline match, IG England vs Cheval des Andes Argentina at 8pm. Tickets are priced from £20 and available at www.gauchopolo.com