Above: Ignacio “Nacho” Figueras
Greenwich Polo Club’s home team, White Birch Polo, also happens to be one of the most successful in history, having won more high-goal tournaments in the last twenty-five years than any other team. Recently, White Birch made it
to the semifinals at the USPA U.S. Open in Palm Beach. Other top teams competing in town include Audi, Airstream and McLaren (Peter Brant’s son Christopher plays on this team). Here, a look at the players to cheer for.
Founder of White Birch and the Greenwich Polo Club, Peter Brant was one of the top-ranked amateur polo players in the world. In the ten years between 1979 and 1989, he rose to a seven-goal handicap—at the time the highest in the world of amateur polo. He has also enjoyed success as the breeder of 1995 Kentucky Derby winner, Thunder Gulch. He continues to be an avid player for White Birch.
A living legend of the sport, Mariano Aguerre reached ten-goal status in the U.S. in 1994 and in Argentina in 1998, an achievement that’s particularly remarkable because Mariano is left-handed; per the rules, you can only swing the mallet with your right hand. Mariano and Peter Brant have been playing together on White Birch for thirty years. He is currently rated at nine goals in both countries. A nine-time winner of the Argentine Open at Palermo, he is also an award-winning breeder of polo ponies and his horse, Califa, was named to the Polo Hall of Fame this year.
Hilario achieved ten-goal status in Argentina in late 2015, and all eyes are watching to see if he will obtain the same status this season in the U.S. He won the 2014 U.S. Open and was also named the World Polo Tour’s Most Valuable Player that same year. He divides his time between Greenwich in the summer and Argentina during the rest of the year.
One of the youngest players in last year’s East Coast Open, Santino is the son of Matias Magrini. They will play on competing teams this season (one of a few father/son players this season). Matias will play for Airstream this season along with Greenwich’s Peter Orthwein, who is patron for that team. Santino made his U.S. debut last year at the age of fourteen playing for White Birch.
POLO’S POSTER BOY
One of the sport’s most famous players, Ignacio “Nacho” Figueras is a polo icon and model who’s helping to popularize the sport. If his rugged good looks seem familiar that’s because he is the face of all Ralph Lauren men’s fragrances and one of the most photographed men in the world. He’s played many matches at Greenwich Polo Club, both when he was on the White Birch team and also during the Sentebale Cup. The Argentine player went pro by age seventeen. In 2000 he started modeling for Ralph Lauren. Still a top-100 player at thirty-nine, Nacho is currently captain of Black Watch Polo.
Photographs: Ignacio ”nacho” Figueras, Courtesy of Greenwich Polo Club; Peter Brant, Hilario Ulloa, and Santino Magrini by ChiChi Ubina/fairfieldcountylook.com; Mariano Aguerre by Juan Lamarca; polo mallets by 123rf.com/ pteshka