US Polo Team Captain Nic Roldan, has played at every goal level on every continent. He gives Tara Punter an insight into the travelling life of a polo player and shares 10 of the most luxurious clubs he’s played at.
[dropcap]Nic[/dropcap] Roldan started playing polo aged 5 and just 10 years later, he played in and won the US Open, at which point he turned professional. To date, he still remains the youngest player to win this prestigious tournament. If those achievements weren’t enough, he’s also a much in demand model.
Nic is passionate about the entire equine industry, not just polo, and has worked with many equestrian greats, including William Fox Pitt.
“Ultimately all equestrian sports are in a minority compared to sports like football, basketball and golf, so I think it’s really important for all equestrian sports to work together to raise the overall awareness and participation and to educate people. I work with Jeep, as does William, so earlier in the year we did a job swap; he played polo and I jumped, it was great fun!”
Nic has also worked alongside Charlotte, as both are ambassadors for the equine charity, Brooke, with Nic working with Brooke USA.
2nd Queen's Cup game- La Indiana vs La Bamba de Areco. Photo: Dominic James
As captain of the US Polo Team, Nic has spent time in the greatest polo clubs in the world and as a consequence, has taken up travel writing, both for the polo enthusiast and for the general holiday maker. “Although we have to travel to different destinations, it’s not like showjumping where you are in a different city every weekend. We tend to be based somewhere for 1 to 3 months so we get to know what each place is like, almost as locals. Finding the hidden gems and best places to eat is important, so it’s nice to be able to share from an insider perspective.”
International Polo Club, Palm Beach, Florida. Photo: Diana De Rosa
The following clubs are amongst the most spectacular Nic has played so far.
1, Argentario Polo Club, Italy
This club’s location is magical; it’s on the Mediterranean coast in Tuscany. The club began as an idea in the 80s when a group of players wanted to enjoy playing polo in a beautiful, seaside setting. The polo field and stables are in ‘Maremma Toscana’ countryside with a wonderful view of the sea.
2, Aspen Valley Polo Club, Colorado, USA
Aspen Valley has a vibrant summer calendar but the highlight of the year is the ‘World Snow Polo Championships’; the only snow polo tournament held in the US. Thanks to Aspen Valley Polo Club’s organisation and horses, it’s very easy for out of town players to make their snow polo debut. This is the best way to end the polo year, just after the Argentine open. It’s particularly special for me as I’ve won the World Snow Polo Championships on three occasions.
3, Canchas de Polo, Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina
The Canchas de Polo is not a club, but a unique polo stadium. It’s where every player dreams to play and have their name on the board. The Argentine Open, the best polo tournament in the world, is held here and draws huge crowds every year.
World Snow Polo Championships at Aspen Polo Club. Photo: Arianna Delin
4, The Cowdray Estate, West Sussex, UK
Cowdray is the home of British Polo and the British Open and is also my home for the UK summer season. Both the Cowdray ruins and Cowdray House provide a stunning backdrop for polo matches. Cowdray House is an exclusive use events venue where I hosted the inaugural ‘Nic Roldan's UK Sunset Polo’- a fundraising event bringing true equestrians together for a good cause. A little bonus is nearby ‘Comestibles Delicatessen’, Midhurst, that sells the very best food, including my favourite, a tuna jacket potato!
"WE TEND TO BE BASED SOMEWHERE FOR 1 TO 3 MONTHS SO WE GET TO KNOW WHAT EACH PLACE IS LIKE, ALMOST AS LOCALS"
3rd East Coast Open Game, Audi vs White Birch at Greenwish Polo Club Florida. Photo: Chichi Ubiña
5, Desert Palm Polo Club, Dubai
Desert Palm is a true luxury destination offering incredible dining, excellent sport and a refreshing green embrace providing a welcome oasis away from the city. It’s been playing host to some of the most prestigious polo tournaments in the world for over 15 years. It’s the home of the Dubai Polo Team, who have won the British Open an incredible 6 times!
6,Greenwich Polo Club, Connecticut, USA
This club is just stunning. Outside of the IPC, (International Polo Club Palm Beach) you can only find high goal polo at Grand Champions, Greenwich and Santa Barbara. The East Coast Open is one of polo’s most prestigious competitions in the US and is in close proximity to New York City where the very first polo match was played in the United States more than 125 years ago.
7, Grand Champions Polo Club, Palm Beach, Florida, USA
Grand Champions provides a unique service with providing a series of weeklong tournaments during spring and autumn. Each is made up of six medium goal tournaments and two very competitive 20 goals. It’s the last polo played at Palm Beach at the end of the year. It’s a great way for out of town players to experience playing at Palm Beach and to get to play with many top players.
8, International Polo Club, Wellington, Palm Beach, Florida, USA
The high goal season in Palm Beach culminating with the US Open being played at this club. The US Open Polo Championships have been held here since 2004. Wellington is my home town, as well as the home of polo in the US. It’s an equestrian paradise, with many dressage and showjumpers based here throughout the winter. Miami is just down the road for those want the South Beach experience.
9, Santa Barbara Polo Club, California, USA
Summer polo in the States is split between East Coast and West Coast and Santa Barbara is the home of West Coast Polo. Spending the summer here is a dream; it’s a great place to play, nestled between the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, which is truly magical.
10, Santa Maria Polo Club, Sotogrande, USA
Offering first class sport and hospitality, the International tournaments played here are a celebration of summer and have led to this club firmly having its spot on the world stage. It’s a club with great vibes and stunning scenery; it really is the epitome of glamour.
Keep up with Nic’s travel and polo adventures at nicroldan.com
Maserati / La Martina Polo Event, April 2016 at Dubai Polo Club