February 08, 1988 12:00 PM

When Cornelia Guest was the debutante of the year in 1982, she speculated about the man she might someday marry. “When I get serious,” said the rarely contemplative Cornelia, “I want him to be 10 to 15 years older than me, tall, dark, handsome and exotic—maybe a foreigner.” She added dreamily, “It’s possible, because my parents know a lot of Europeans.”

In a pairing that echoes the Maria Shriver-Arnold Schwarzenegger union—impeccable pedigree meets impeccable pecs—Cornelia Guest, the daughter of Boston Brahmin C.Z. Guest and the late polo-playing millionaire Winston and goddaughter of the late Duke and Duchess of Windsor, may marry Sylvester Stallone, the man who went from Rocky to riches.

Let us consider for a moment Cornelia’s checklist of marital prerequisites. Ten to 15 years older? Almost; she’s 24, he’s 41. Tall? When he’s wearing his 2½-inch heels. Dark? Without question. Handsome? In the eye of the beholder. Exotic? If you’re to the manor born.

As for Stallone, Guest obviously meets his main requirement—the right hair color. For Sly, this is simply a case of the blond leading the blonds. There was his fair-haired first wife, Sasha, Susan Anton, second wife Brigitte Nielsen, model Kathy Lyn Davis, Alana Stewart and now Cornelia Guest. In her, beefcake Stallone has apparently made a prime choice.

Or has he? Note that nowhere on Cornelia’s list of marital musts does the word “intelligence” appear. Horse sense seems the only sort of cleverness prized by super-equestrienne Guest. “I’ve decided not to go to college because I always ride and I don’t have the time,” she once remarked. Then again, who could be more ideal for a girl like Cornelia than a guy like Sly, who has his very own polo field?

In fact, it was polo that chucked them together. After meeting at a party last summer, soon after Stallone filed for divorce from Nielsen, Guest took a tour of the tack room at his polo field. She was surprised to find a picture of her father on his wall. He was surprised that the guy was her father. Shortly after he returned from a five-month Rambo III shoot abroad, the world was surprised that Sly and Cornelia were not only an item, but reputedly engaged.

They made their first formal appearance last week, at a Touchdown Club gala in Washington, D.C., where Sly accepted an award from the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Their entrance had all the earmarks of a serious Stallone romance—carefully orchestrated to prevent photos of the couple together. Bodyguards flanked and followed Sly, separating him from Cornelia and his mother, Jackie, who walked several paces behind.

Stallone took the stage, and the press was invited to ask any question it wanted—about sports. Meanwhile, Guest and Jackie sat at a table and quietly talked. At one point Cornelia realized that Jackie, who had stood up with her back to the cameras, had her bra clasp exposed. Thinking quickly, she grabbed Jackie’s elbow and spun her around. That girl knows the way to a potential mother-in-law’s heart.

Beyond calling the engagement rumor “Hollywood hype,” Sly avoided questions about Guest. Later, however, while discoursing on Rambo III (“It deals with geopolitics in a way that I think will explain to people a lot of what’s going on in the Middle East”), he revealed that he’d been in a pensive mood of late. “I just spent five months in the Middle East. When you’re there, you have time to contemplate your position, your status and what your future will be,” he said.

Is Cornelia the future Mrs. Sly? “That’s a little premature,” said Jackie, interviewed at her L.A. home a few days later, “but things are coming along very nicely.” When Jackie was invited onstage in Washington to say a few words, Sly—alluding to her notorious candor—playfully covered the mike with his hands. But Sly wasn’t around to muzzle her back home in California. Of her first two daughters-in-law, said Jackie, “Sasha was a zero, a grubby little nobody. The second one was a zero minus, a double zero. Cornelia has more going for her.” Besides, concluded Jackie, Sly and Cornelia have so much in common. “They both love to ride horses, work out at sports and wrestle.” Heaven, it seems, has made another match.

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