We have heard this statement quite a bit. Polo is a sport the public already knows and has association with class, wealth and privilege. And the idea that the game is reserved for royals, social swells and elitists, hits quite a few nerves. Can you tell?
Yet! We are going to throw in a little ginger and spice and everything nice to have an honest look at this historical sport; and the association to power that it has with some of the most beautiful, skilled & elegant peeps. Of which includes you!
Many years ago, other sports were very exclusive. Take golf and tennis for example. Wimbledon today, still has strict rules to being a part of the ‘club’, and some yachting squadrons only allow members who have a long family history of membership. No matter the amount of money, you cannot be a part of this exclusive clan unless you’ve had some legacy. Ahhhh, which is something Stylemeister believes and talks about in our e-book.
Polo is front of mind at the moment as the global event has started to escalate in popularity. Why is this? Well, we believe it’s because of quite a high profiled player and model with plenty of movie-star good looks called Nachos Figueras.
The day Nacho Figueras walked into the New York Stock Exchange with a polo pony in tow, was the day that jokes diverted to a man and his horse. In a loud NYC drawl, brokers swayed as if in a bar stating, “So; a horse walked into the New York Stock Exchange…” Funny as that was, Nacho was there to do something that this ol’ town hadn’t seen before. And he did. He also had an unrattled, elephant skinned, unwavering determination to bring this wonderful sport to the forefront and make it that game of all games.
Not only is Nacho a fine sportsman, he’s also the face of Ralph Polo Lauren. When Mother Nature handed out genes for Latin charm and smoulder she was very kind to Nacho. He’s married to photographer Delfina Blaquier and the father of three children but where Nacho plays, females follow. Last year he was voted the second most handsome man behind Rob Pattinson and Brad Pitt.
When Ralph Lauren met the mallet-wielding hunk a decade ago, he knew he would be perfect for his advertising. And well, he was right. Although Nacho wasn’t looking at becoming a model, he could see the opportunity that arose. He knows he could take polo to the next level with the leverage that Ralph Lauren could give, and a marriage was made…in heaven.
We’ve posted a number of great images of the man’s style and etiquette, but most importantly, we agree with Nachos principles and sheer determination to do what one loves on this earth. Nacho always travels with his family and divides the bulk of his time between Argentina and the USA, where he plays the season in NY and Florida. He’s huge on dedicating time to charity matches and is an unofficial spokesman for the game. He fronts a campaign for a style legend, Ralph Lauren, who is a mentor. Nacho’s says, “One of the things I’ve leant from him is what it means to work hard for something, to have a vision and follow it. Lauren always said he never did it for money but because it was his passion, and that is what I feel about Polo”.
Here is a poetic description of the game called Polo.
Polo is arguably the oldest recorded team sport in known history, with the first matches being played in Persia over 2,500 years ago. Initially thought to have been created by competing tribes of Central Asia, it was quickly taken up as a training method for the King’s elite cavalry. These matches could resemble a battle with up to 100 men to a side.
As mounted armies swept back and forth across this part of the world, conquering and re-conquering, polo was adopted as the most noble of pastimes by the Kings and Emperors, Shahs and Sultans, Khans and Caliphs of the ancient Persians, Arabs, Mughals, Mongols and Chinese. It was for this reason it became known across the lands as “the game of kings”.
British officers themselves re-invented the game in 1862 after seeing a horsemanship exhibition in Manipur, India. The sport was introduced into England in 1869, and seven years later sportsman James Gordon Bennett imported it to the United States. After 1886, English and American teams occasionally met for the International Polo Challenge Cup. Polo was on several Olympic Games schedules, but was last an Olympic sport in 1936.
Polo continues, as it has done for so long, to represent the pinnacle of sport, and reaffirms the special bond between horse and rider. The feeling of many of its players are epitomized by a famous verse inscribed on a stone tablet next to a polo ground in Gilgit, Pakistan: “Let others play at other things. The king of games is still the game of kings.”
Historically speaking, however, polo’s most articulate spokesman must be Winston Churchill, who learned the game in 1895 when he was a young cavalry officer. (He wrote to his mother and begged her for money to buy polo ponies: “I cannot go on without any for more than a few days,” he wrote, “unless I give up the game, which would be dreadful.”) A year later, stationed in India, he organized a polo club and purchased 25 horses from another regiment with the aim of winning India’s prestigious inter-regional tournament. His team practiced every day in the blistering heat, and traveled up to 1,400 miles by train with its horses to play invitational matches. In My Early Life, he describes a game with the kinsmen of Sir Pertab Singh, the regent of Jodhpor:
“Old Pertab, who loved polo next to war more than anything in the world, used to stop the game repeatedly and point out faults or possible improvements in our play and combination. ‘Faster, faster, same like fly,’ he would shout to increase the speed of the game. The Jodhpor polo ground rises in great clouds of red dust when a game is in progress. These clouds carried to leeward of the strong breeze introduced a disturbing and somewhat dangerous complication. Turbaned figures emerged at full gallop from the dust-cloud, or the ball whistled out of it unexpectedly. It was difficult to follow the whole game, and one often had to play to avoid the dust-cloud.”
Thanks to his determination, Churchill’s team won the inter-regional tournament in 1899. He continued to play polo until the age of 52, despite suffering a constantly dislocating right shoulder which forced him to ride with his hitting arm bound to his side.
“Don’t give your son money,” he later advised parents. “As far as you can afford it, give him horses. No one ever came to grief — except honourable grief — through riding horses. No hour of life is lost that is spent in the saddle. Young men have often been ruined through owning horses, or through backing horses, but never through riding them; unless of course they break their necks, which, taken at a gallop, is a very good death to die.”