Oct. 8 (Bloomberg) -- It’s a rare story that can feature Veuve Clicquot, polo star/Polo model Nacho Figueras and the Socrates of Hollywood cowboys, Will Rogers.
The champagne maker approached Figueras about helping to raise money for the Will Rogers State Historic Park. The hunky horseman was happy to learn that the former ranch in Pacific Palisades, California, surrounds the polo field where Rogers once competed with Spencer Tracy, Clark Gable and Walt Disney -- real men, real polo shirts.
“Los Angeles used to have 22 polo fields back in the 1930s, and this is the only one left,” Figueras said. “So it meant a lot to me to be able to raise money to keep these polo fields open for a long, long time.”
Figueras and his wife, Delfina Balquier, will be at the storied polo field Sunday with fashion reality star Rachel Zoe of “The Rachel Zoe Project.” The 186-acre park has seen cutbacks in its state funding in recent years. The champagne maker is selling tickets for $15 to the public and also will make a gift of an undisclosed sum to the park.
“The fundraising from this event will help me with day-to-day operations, keeping the lights on and the water running,” Lynette Brody, a California State Parks superintendent, said by phone. More than $500,000 has been cut from her parks budget in the past two years, she said.
Figueras, the captain of the Black Watch polo team, also wants to raise his sport’s visibility in nearby Los Angeles and Hollywood -- reality men, reality Polo shirts.
“Polo was a big sport in the 1920s and 1930s,” he said. “People had polo in their calendars and people were hooked on it. After World War II, polo got lost. I want people not to feel intimidated by the sport.”
Prince of Wales
Figueras has emerged as one of polo’s biggest fundraising magnets through his charity appearances, beginning with the Veuve Clicquot Classic in New York in 2008. The events have attracted personalities such as Prince Harry, Madonna, Hugh Jackman and Marc Jacobs.
Born in Buenos Aires, Figueras started swinging a mallet when he was 8 and became a professional at 17. He went to France in 1994 to play there for two years.
He became an international star in the sport and then began modeling for designer Ralph Lauren in the past decade, becoming the face of some of the company’s products.
“My Ralph Lauren connection has done a lot for raising my profile and that has allowed me to raise the profile of the sport,” he said.
(The Veuve Cliquot Polo Classic Los Angeles is Sunday at Will Rogers State Historic Park in Pacific Palisades, California. Tickets and information: http://www.vcseason.com/lapolo)
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