ABOVE: Cotton shirt, Louis Vuitton ($545). Americana Manhasset, 2060 Northern Blvd.; louisvuitton.com. Khaki pants, Idol Radec ($225). Bloomingdale’s, Roosevelt Field Mall, 630 Old Country Road, Garden City; bloomingdales.com. Aqua sunglasses, Bulgari ($330). London Jewelers, 47 Main St., Southampton; londonjewelers.com. Belt, Salvatore Ferragamo ($240). Americana Manhasset, 2060 Northern Blvd.; ferragamo.com. Boots, Roldan’s own. BELOW: Jacket, Burberry ($850). Americana Manhasset, 2060 Northern Blvd.; burberry.com. Crew-neck sweater, DKNY ($110). Macy’s, 1100 Northern Blvd., Manhasset; macys.com. Pants, Etro ($375). Americana Manhasset, 2060 Northern Blvd.; etro.com
If you ask Nicolas Roldan where he’s from, he’ll tell you he’s “50 percent Argentine, 50 percent German and 100 percent American.” His father was born in Argentina, his mother in Germany. (If you’re a polo player, this is the perfect genetic mix.) Roldan grew up in Wellington, Florida, polo’s epicenter. To hold passports to three of the world’s major polo arenas— Argentina, Europe and the USA—and to speak two languages fluently definitely gives a player a competitive edge. After all, if you can’t pick up the Argentine curse words that sling across the field faster than the thoroughbred ponies, you might as well not be in the game.
Roldan learned to ride at the age of three, when his father, former highgoal polo player Raul Roldan, left him in a paddock all day to figure it out. Despite this early training, his first love was actually hockey. Fate, however, would have it no other way. When he was 15, Roldan was asked to substitute for an injured polo sponsor on the Escue Polo Team during the 1998 US Open Championship. Three games later, he found himself playing in the finals and winning. To this day, he’s listed in the Polo Hall of Fame as the youngest player to ever win the US Open. “Winning the US Open at such a young age was incredible, but I was also so young that it didn’t really faze me,” he says. “I mean, I couldn’t even drive yet; I hadn’t hit puberty yet. But yes, it was an amazing experience, one that I will remember for the rest of my life.”
Now 27, Roldan has played polo on five continents and has won numerous trophies that shimmer on the shelves of his dining room wall. This past season, at a 9-goal handicap, he held the title of the highestranked American polo player in the world. He has some of the most powerful men and women in business as teammates, has hobnobbed with the likes of Princes William and Harry and was signed to model with Wilhelmina Models.
Yet Roldan appreciates being able to kick back and relax, often with his close-knit family. “Downtime for me is super-important,” he says, noting that one of his favorite places to be is on his parents’ couch for an afternoon siesta with their Jack Russells (Gordie and Boci) draped across his chest. “Family always came first, and I really follow that. I get along unbelievably with my parents and my sister—I love spending time with them. I think that helps me stay sane and humble in the real world.” He even travels in laid-back fashion between the two elite polo bubbles of Palm Beach and Bridgehampton, driving his own rig and trailering 14 of his best horses himself, one bare foot propped up on the dashboard as he sings along to Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page” (a song he considers his personal anthem).
This season in Bridgehampton, he’ll play alongside Gonzalo del Rio, Iñaki Laprida and sponsor Michael Borrico on Team Certified—an ensemble known for its entourage of groupies and the occasional keg set up in the players’ tent. During the summer, competitive polo is played in several enticing spots, from Spain and England to Santa Barbara, California. Roldan has seen them all, but he admits that his favorite fields are in the Hamptons. “The Hamptons, for me, is the best place in the world to play polo in the summer,” he says. “The weather, beaches and restaurants all make this place great.” He lauds the beautiful scenic bike routes and wonderful surfing conditions, but of course, he says, he comes for the polo. “It’s good competition and a lot of fun.”