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Who are the most famous horse polo players ever? A list of the top 10 horse polo players
The sport of kings has drawn royalty to its ranks for centuries. In many minds, the game belongs to the rich, the famous, and the privileged. That sentiment may be true, but there's more to the game than the glitz and glamour. The most famous horse polo players are not only successful athletes, but also ambassadors of human and animal welfare. It is also not reserved for the elite but for any passionate participants.
As one of the oldest team sports, horse polo combines horse racing and ball games. Two opposing teams on horseback strive to score against each other by driving a ball into the other team's goal using long-handled wooden mallets. With years of practice, these athletes sharpen their skills and become famous and successful.
Top 10 most famous horse polo players
For such an elite sport, fame is achieved not only by excellent playing but also by social circles. It is no wonder to find some poloists hanging out with members of the royal family or other notable figures. Though not exhaustive, below are the most well-renowned players.
10. Nacho Figueras
Ignacio Figueras Bermejo is an Argentinian model and a 6-goal handicap sportsman. He is arguably the most famous polo player worldwide, especially due to his ties with Ralph Lauren's Black Label and the Black Watch Polo Team, which he captains. The 45-year-old was introduced to the game through his father's ties to legendary player Lucas Monteverde. On top of his sports and modelling career, Nacho has had moderate success in filmography, appearing in several movies and TV shows.
9. Neku Atawodi-Edun
A rare sight indeed, Neku is the only African female professional polo player. She is an equine sports scientist, philanthropist, entrepreneur, and investor with an impressive array of awards and accolades. This brainy beauty uses her various platforms to popularize equestrianism and raise awareness of African issues like women's and children's rights.
8. Lia Salvo
Born into a gaming family, Lia began riding at 4 years and played her first tournament at 12. She is Argentina's top-ranked female athletes and trains riders at the Argentina Polo Academy. She has a 9-goal women's handicap rating in Argentina and England.
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7. Mariano Aguerre
This 53-year-old sportsman plays for both Argentina and the USA. He is a 10-handicap goal player in both countries and a 9X Argentine Open at Palermo winner. The 2017 inductee into the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame is an in-law to the Pieres family through his wife Tatiana.
6. Lewis Lacey
This British-Canadian poloist played for Argentina in the early 20th century. Lacey won his first Argentine open in 1915 and became Argentina's second 10-goal player. He gained fame and notoriety for selling a show pony worth $22,000 in 1928 and for making the Hurlingham Polo Team shirts in 1923, which were the precursors to modern-day fashion brands. When not being an athlete, Lacey wrote articles about the sport.
5. Owen Rinehart
Rinehart is one of the most talented and decorated American athletes. With several wins to his name, the star was inducted into the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame on 13 February 2009. He is also famous for being good with horses, particularly Cortina.
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4. Sunny Hale
Sunset Hale was regarded as the most famous female player in the world as the first woman to be on the winning team in the U.S. Open Polo Championship. Hale was inducted into the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in 2012 for her pioneering fortitude, just like her mother who had to disguise herself as a man to compete in the 50s. Sunny unfortunately lost a battle with cancer in 2017 when she was 48.
3. Luke Tomlinson
The owner of the Beaufort Polo Club is a seven-goal handicap British partaker. He is also a former captain of the England team and won the Queen's Cup, Gold Cup, and Coronation Cup. His younger siblings, Emma and Mark, are also professional players.
2. Adolfo Cambiaso
The Argentinian star was born into a sporty family and has a 10-goal handicap rating. He is ranked as the second-best in the game worldwide, with two Konex awards for the best poloist of the decade in Argentina, in 2000 and 2010. He was also awarded by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for his efforts towards the humane breaking of horses. Adolfo is also famous for the cloning of racing horses.
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1. Facundo Pieres
Facundo was born into the iconic Pieres family of Argentina and has a 10 handicap rating. He is ranked first according to the world polo ranking. The 36-year-old rider has won the most important tournaments of the WPT, Gold Cup, the Spanish Grand Slam, Sotogrande 2017 and 2018, and the Torneo International de Sotogrande.
Who is the best horse polo player at the moment?
Adolfo Cambiaso is the best-ranked player in 2022, with 1658 points. Dolfi, as he is colloquially known, plays with a handicap of over 10 goals in Argentina, the USA and the UK. His team is the second ever to win the Argentine Triple Crown in 2014 since 1976. He is also the second athlete to be awarded the Golden Olimpia Award for Athlete of the Year in Argentina.
How many 10 handicapped polo players are there?
Each country specifies its own handicap, meaning that players may play at 10 goals in Argentina, but at nine goals in the USA. As of December 2022, only nine players worldwide have a 10-goal handicap rating. They are:
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Juan Martin Nero
Pablo Mac Donough
Miguel Novillo Astrada
David Stirling Jr.
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What country has the best polo players?
The sport was traditionally for the royals in England and Europe, but with improved financial status, it has become accessible to average folk. The game has started gaining a following in Asian countries like Singapore. Argentina is the breeding ground for the world's leading participants and ponies, which is attributable to reforms that Marcos Uranga enforced in the Argentine Polo Association.
The most famous horse polo players were introduced to the sport at a very young age and have perfected their skills and become very famous. Fuelling the stereotype that this sport is for the high class, most of these athletes hang with elite squads. However, with advances in technology and awareness, the sport is becoming accessible to people of all social standing.
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