Bracket Battle of Event Horses: ROUND 1

The ENCAA Bracket Battle kicks off today with the 1 vs 8 seeds from the O’Connor Region and the British Isles Region.  Biko is a heavy favorite to win the whole thing, but he has a tough OCET challenge ahead to make it to the Final Four.  The road isn’t much easier across the pond, either, but Toytown has some momentum.  Vote for your favorite to send them on!  Sing your praises or grunt your grumbles in the comment section…noteworthy comments may be rewarded with extra votes toward a horse of your choice.



With 17.3 hands of bright bayness, his splashy blazed face became the most recognizable feature of American Eventing in the 1990s.  Ridden by Karen O’Connor, Biko represented the US at the 1994 WEG (finishing 11th) and was a member of the 1996 Silver medal team at the Athens Olympics.  Also among his numerous highlights are a third at Badminton (1995), 8th at the European Championships (1995), and fifth at the first Rolex CCI**** (1998). Along with being made into a Breyer model, Biko was given the ultimate honor as being named the USCTA Horse of the Century in 2000.



(I searched for hours but couldn’t locate a photo…if you find one, please post it!)

Originally ridden by Mark Todd, Wilton Fair won Burghley in 1987.  Later partnered with David O’Connor, the chestnut gelding won the 1990 Advanced 3-Day (World Championships Selection Trial), making the US team for the 1990 World Championships.  He and David finished 7th at Badminton in 1992, and won the Fair Hill CCI*** in 1993.



Toytown at Burghley (Henry Bucklow), Wikimedia Commons

Catapulting Zara Phillips into the international spotlight, Toytown burst onto the eventing scene in the early 2000s.  The flashy chestnut finished 2nd at Burghley in 2003 (the pair’s first attempt!), 2nd at Luhmuhlen CCI****, and won Individual and Team Gold at the 2005 European Championships.  It only got better from there: Individual Gold and Team Silver at the 2006 WEG, and another Team Gold at the 2007 Europeans.  Talk about a full trophy case!



Note: video includes several Bracket Battle challengers: (8) Glenburnie, (6) Murphy Himself, and (2) Charisma.

Somewhat overshadowed by Ian Stark’s other magnificent gray Murphy Himself, Glenburnie nonetheless left his own mark on the world of eventing.  He was 2nd at Badminton in 1988, and won the Team and Individual Gold at the 1991 European Championships.  Bred to be a steeplechaser, he his speed and stamina served him well as a world-class eventer.


John’s Note: I just want to mention how much we appreciated the comments on our Bracket Busters intro post.  Andrea, lec, and Anonymous had some great suggestions.  Visionaire and I researched every single suggestion late last night and made a few changes to our original bracket, including taking out Primmores Pride (who was competing late last fall) and adding Toytown.  As of yesterday, Zara would not officially say that Toytown was retired, but he is officially out of the WEG hunt.
The ‘retirement question’ is always tough with event horses.  With so much pressure on riders these days to keep horses competing until the vets absolutely can’t keep them sound, many top horses take a long time to officially retire.  This made it challenging for us to select only the horses who have finished writing their legacy.  Heck, even the USET has to deal with these types of issues when they make the training lists each year.
I characterize our final bracket as: retired horses from the ‘recent past.’  We decided to stick with more recent horses with the idea that hopefully most of our readers would have had the chance to watch them as they were still eventing.  Admittedly, I wasn’t born when some of these horses were competing, and it looks like we should have just had commenter ‘lec’ write the British aisles regional, but, overall, I am really excited that EN will get a chance to remember and honor some of eventing’s greatest athletes in an entertaining format.  I have already already voted, have you?
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