Event Horse Madness: The Elite Eight

You ever do that thing where, in the middle of a global pandemic and a national lockdown, you just forget what day it is? Yeah, me too. On the plus side, that means you guys got a few extra days to go to battle for your favourite horses in the Sweet Sixteen round – and boy, did you ever. Now, we’re down to just eight horses, fighting it out for the chance to be the winner of EN’s Event Horse Madness, 2020 edition. Let’s have a quick recap of how gameplay goes down.

HOW IT WORKS

32 of the world’s best event horses will come together in an NCAA-style bracket, with the winners of each bracket advancing to the next round and facing a formidable new opponent. In order to avoid a year-long argument amongst team EN — and because we’d really, really love to bypass any aggressive comments chastising us for missing anyone — we pull our contenders from the Olympic rankings, which are updated to the end of 2019. Then, we use those rankings to fill four categories, as follows:

  • Seven horses from North America
  • Seven horses from the UK and Ireland
  • Seven horses from continental Europe
  • Seven horses from New Zealand/Australia

“But that doesn’t equal 32,” we hear you protest. And you are not wrong, you little math whizzes. The next step is to find the four best-ranked horses from the rest of the world. Each of them will then be added to one of the above groups in chronological order, and seeded based on their position in the rankings.

These horses represent the top ranked six of each of their global regions. If a horse has since been sold to another region, they’re skipped over. (Before you come for us, know that this only happens in one case — and its previous rider is still represented by another horse in the bracket.)

Once pulled from the rankings, each horse is given a seed number within its group. The higher their position within the Olympic rankings, the higher their seed number. Winners of five-stars or major championships in 2019 will automatically be given top seed.

HOW THE WINNER IS CHOSEN

It’s all popular vote, baby, so the fate of your favourite is entirely in your hands. We wholeheartedly encourage as much devious social media campaigning as you fancy undertaking. This is, after all, Very Serious Bizzness: the winner will get full bragging rights as the EN readers’ favourite horse in the whole WORLD.

Each round will open up for voting as follows:

Round of 32, Part 1: Wednesday, March 18
Round of 32, Part 2Friday, March 20
Sweet 16: Thursday, March 26
Elite 8: Thursday, April 2
Final 4: Sunday, April 5
Championship: Wednesday, April 8

TODAY’S LINE-UP

There was some surprise upsets in the Sweet Sixteen round, particularly in Camp Europe: Felix Vogg‘s Colero beat superstar SAP Hale Bob OLD, piloted by Ingrid Klimke, by a hair, while Tim Lips‘ remarkable Bayro, who was tragically euthanised this week, edged out Michael Jung‘s fischerChipmunk FRH. In the British quarters, Sarah Bullimore‘s quirky 5* partner Reve du Rouet advances to the Elite 8 over Oliver Townend‘s Burghley-winning Ballaghmor Class, and 2019 Badminton victor Vanir Kamira just sneaks in ahead of Imogen Murray‘s Ivar Gooden.

It’ll be a closely-fought contest for the Americans in this round, as National Champ Tsetserleg and beloved Bug Vermiculus face off for a spot in the final four. Meanwhile, a little further south, Tim Price‘s Ascona M has won each round by a landslide – but can she maintain her trajectory against three-time Adelaide winner Willingapark Clifford? It’s time to choose your fighter and find out. 

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