Bracket Battle of Event Horses: ROUND 2, Sweet Sixteen

Results: In one of the tightest and most passionate contests yet, Tailor and his Olympic Gold narrowly defeated Teddy, his OCET PIC [that’s Partner in Crime for our private school readers].  Ally commented that she was surprised the race was so close, but I’m not.  I have never seen fan fanaticism like that displayed by all of us cheering for Teddy at Rolex ’08.  Watching him showjump was insane; he cantered down to oxers that stood taller than his head, jumped a mile in the air, and the crowd gasped/cheered every time.  When we do a Bracked Buster challenge for biggest heart in eventing, Teddy will run away with it.  That said, no one is more deserving to move onto the next round than Tailor.  Murphy Himself beat out Supreme Rock in our other contest from yesterday.  
A few notes from the first round and early second round matchups:
(i) PlayerHater and several other EN regulars have been vocal about Biko being overrated, and I agree.  I obviously have tremendous respect for Biko (we made him a 1-seed after all), and no one questions that Biko is one of the most popular horses of all time.  When Biko retired at Rolex I spent an hour and a half in line to have my picture taken with him.  But, Biko’s lack of a major international victory makes it hard for me to think of him as one of the top 10 greatest horses ever, or even of the past 20 years.  I also take into consideration that Biko was ridden by one of the greatest riders of all time, which gave him every possible chance to collect that 4* ‘dubya.’
(ii) It’s really hard to compare long format to short format horses.  Anonymous made a comment today that Tailor’s achievements are even more impressive considering he was a long format horse.  Undoubtedly, some successful horses today with their huge trots, big jumps, and warmblood heritage couldn’t make it past the 4th minute on D of a long format.  Like any sport, we should look at the athletes within their own era and evaluate how they succeeded against the particular challenges they faced.  



Eagle Lion wasn’t the flashiest of horses, and he may not have earned the most blue ribbons, but he has an incredibly solid, if not stellar, record.  With him, Bruce Davidson became the first American to win Badminton, in 1995.  The bay gelding backs this up with other top-5 finishes at Burghley (1993), Badminton (1994 and 1998), and a win at Fair Hill CCI*** (1992).  He completed Badminton four times with double-clear cross-country rounds; he placed in the top 15 in ten three- or four-star events in all.



Heyday enjoyed a long, prosperous career, first competing at Advanced when he was six years old, and finishing 13 long-format three-day events in the top 20.  He was yet another plain, average bay with above-average talent for Bruce Davidson.  In 1995 they won the PanAms, and earned the team silver medal at the 1996 Olympics (9th individually).  The next year, he earned second at Blenheim CCI***.  An 8th place finish at Rolex in 1998 sent him to the WEG, as part of the bronze medal winning US team.  From 2000-2003, Heyday partnered with Young Rider Maisy Grassie.  Heyday’s success continued as he showed her the ropes from prelim to advanced, winning the NAYRC CCI* championship along the way.



Charisma, ridden by Mark Todd, stood just 15.3 hh but towered over his competitors during his illustrious career.  Charisma was mostly thoroughbred (1/64th Percheron), and was nicknamed “Podge” because of his love of food.  As the story goes, Charisma had to have newspaper strips for bedding because he would eat anything else.  The pair first met while Mark Todd was working at a dairy farm and Todd felt pity because the horse was was so small.  Just a few years later, Charisma and Todd stormed onto the eventing scene with a second place finish at Badminton and then a shocking victory at the 1984 LA Olymics.  Charisma placed second again at Badminton (’85), second at Burghley (’87), and then dominated the 1988 Olympics, winning Gold by 10 points.  Charisma was the second event horse in history to win back-to-back individual Olympic Gold, after Charles de Mortanges and Marcroix (NED) in 1928 and 1932.  After Charisma retired, Mark Todd said “he is so tiny, I wonder how he achieved so much.”



True Blue Girdwood “Jug head” or just “Jug” was the only horse Phillip brought with him when he moved to the US in 1991.  Phillip says Jug the horse who really brought him onto the world stage.  True Blue Girdwood represented Australia in 1996 Olympics, winning team Gold in Atlanta, and also competed with Phillip at the ’94 & ’98 WEGs, Rolex, and Badminton (placing 6th in 1995).  After his career with Phillip, Jug mentored several of Phillip’s students as a schoolmaster.

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