Football may have David Beckham, but the equestrian world isn’t exactly lacking in the athlete pin-up department. From dashing silver foxes to guys who moonlight as models, and several who should, we give you our top ten dream guys to ride away with into the sunset.
Text Susanne Madsen / The Horse Rider’s Journal No. 10
36-year-old Nacho Figueras looks like he just walked out of the pages of a Jilly Cooper novel. The brilliant Black Watch polo player and face of Ralph Lauren’s Black Label has become the smouldering poster boy of polo and even landed a guest spot on the third season of Gossip Girl, where he gave Serena van der Woodsen a fairy tale-style lift on his polo pony. Off-screen, the swoon-tastic Argentine star is married to photographer and former model Delfina Blaquier and the couple have four children – which just so happens to be the number of players required for a polo team. Watch this space.
If you look up ‘brooding good looks’ in the dictionary, there should really be a picture of Adolfo Cambiaso. Chiselled and absurdly handsome, the polo legend known as Adolfito is widely considered the best polo player in the history of ever. Aside from his links with Jaeger-LeCoultre, the 38-year-old Argentine prefers to keep a super low profile when he isn’t flying around the polo field. In 2001, he married model María Vázquez and the couple have three children. Adolfito is one of the frontrunners of horse cloning – sadly, no one’s been able to clone his incredible talent and looks yet.
Alex Hua Tian
When Alex Hua Tian isn’t busy competing at Burghley or Badminton, the insanely dashing 24-year-old can be found front row at Gucci or on countless magazine covers. Educated at Eton and the only Chinese event rider competing internationally, this charming young man also became the youngest Olympics eventer in history when he competed in Beijing in 2008 at the age of 18. Born in London and raised in West Sussex, Alex is dating dressage rider Sarah Higgins and recently shot the Gieves & Hawkes spring/summer 2014 campaign – a very fitting match considering the dapper Alex always looks like a walking Savile Row billboard anyway.
Christoph Koschel is the Hugh Grant of the equestrian world. With his dark, foppish hair and dreamy looks, the German dressage rider has long ranked as one of the heartthrobs on the horse scene. We almost missed out on seeing Christoph competing on the international circuit as he originally gained a degree in law before making horses his full-time career, and joining forces with his father Jürgen Koschel, the famous dressage trainer. In 2008, Christoph married equestrian journalist Patricia Tietje, who now works as the yard manager of Hof Beckerode, the Koschel family’s idyllic base in Hagen am Teutoburger Wald, and the couple have two sons.
As if winning an individual gold medal at the 2012 Olympics in London wasn’t enough, 31-year-old Steve Guerdat is also rather easy on the eye. The tanned and dark-haired Swiss rider previously honed his talent at Jan Tops’ yard before returning to his homeland and setting up shop in Herlliberg outside Zürich. The very eligible bachelor spends most of his time picking up ribbons with his string of amazing horses at the world’s top events, but when he’s back home in Switzerland you might just spot him in Zürich – one of his favourite places to hang out. Please no stalking, though.
Hands up, who fell a little bit more in love with event rider Sam Watson after watching his touching video for Horse & Country TV documenting his journey towards the Olympics? While he didn’t make the team, Sam won a lot of hearts with his sincerity and boyish good looks, and this year the laid-back Irishman has been shining on all the top cross-country courses. 27-year-old Sam and his wife Hannah ‘Sparkles’ Bailey (event rider Pippa Funnell’s former head girl) welcomed a son this year, and with his usual wry sense of humour, Sam has been taking to Twitter with witty updates: “It can be quite distressing hearing your child crying…so I’ve turned off the baby monitor…#parentingwatsonstyle”.
Tall and terribly dashing, 32-year-old Daniel Deusser is one of Germany’s finest exports. The reigning German champion took silver with his team at the European Championships in Herning this year, and with his clean-cut good looks and winning smile, Daniel is quite the Prince Charming. The German showjumper spent six years at Jan Tops’ yard in Holland before moving to Stephex Stables in Belgium to be closer to his fiancée Caroline Wauters, the daughter of Olympian bronze winner Eric Wauter, and the couple got married in September last year. What’s not to love about a man who follows his heart?
Nicola & Olivier Philippaerts
“Someone should give those young men a modelling contract,” a woman remarked when we shot twins Nicola and Olivier Philippaerts at the Saut Hermes in Paris last year, and she certainly had a point. The Belgian showjumpers are a double dose of tall and handsome, and Twitter is awash with girls giddily declaring their undying love for the brothers. This year, the 20-year-old twins have clocked up some nice wins, coached under the watchful eye of their father, renowned show-jumper Ludo Philippaerts. Nicola is currently dating Olympic dressage rider and Kingsland model Morgan Barbançon Mestre, but rumour has it Olivier is single. Ladies, please form an orderly queue.
If Kevin Staut wasn’t busy being one of France’s finest showjumpers, he could surely have made a decent penny being a full-time model. With cheekbones that could cut glass and an athletic frame, the debonair Kevin was a natural choice for Gucci as the face of the 2009 Gucci Masters. Today, his handsome features grace the KS by Scabal campaign images – Staut’s elegant made-to-measure menswear label developed in collaboration with his Belgian tailor, Scabal. The 32-year-old also happens to be one half of one of France’s ultimate equestrian couples: He’s dating fellow French showjumping star Pénélope Léprovost.
With his inimitable style of jumping and European Championship gold medal win in Herning this year, silver fox Roger-Yves Bost is hard to miss on the international show circuit. But while his endearing and perilous-looking penchant for twisting himself over fences with legs and arms flying everywhere may not exactly fit the ideas of textbook riding posture, Bosty’s super charming personality and good looks get top marks all around. At 48, the hugely popular Frenchman is going from strength to strength, and the married father of two has passed on his riding talents to both of his children. Just FYI, his 19-year-old son Nicolas competes as a Young Rider and is quite the teen dream.