Sarah Jenkins: Opposition Buzz will be impossible to replace

  • Many of us were only just coming to terms with the fact that we would never see Nicola Wilson’s team stalwart Opposition Buzz go cross-country again.

    We were even more saddened to learn of his death, aged 17, just seven weeks into a well-earned retirement.

    “Dodi”, as he was known, jumped every fence with all his heart and defied expectations, making him the ultimate British eventing hero.

    At first, he made you hold your breath on account of his unusual technique over a fence. But he soon convinced everyone to have complete confidence in his ability to make mincemeat of the toughest track — hence his selection as pathfinder for four championships on the trot.

    Supporters flocked to see his final round at Allerton Park in September on hearing it would be his swansong. The sport needs characters like this. Opposition Buzz will be sorely missed and impossible to replace.

    Given the sad state of British showjumping, following an 18th-place finish at the World Equestrian Games in France this summer and the resignation of the man who led them to gold in London [Rob Hoekstra, news  6 November], it’s heartening that Scott Brash has retained his world number one spot for an entire year (see page 8).

    Another more unlikely hero is emerging in America — a Welsh cob stallion who has just posted a plus-70% grand prix dressage score.

    Given the enthusiasm for our cob special issue two weeks ago, it seems the type has no shortage of fans. Do check out the video of this 14.3hh —North Forks Cardi — in action at the US Dressage Finals in Kentucky. You worry on seeing his entry and first halt, but can’t help but be impressed by his pirouettes, piaffe and passage — it’s so much more impressive than you might expect. Cobs like this are re-writing the status quo and rewarding their owners’ faith. Talk about the triumph of an underdog.

    Read more of Sarah’s thoughts by clicking on the links below.

    Sarah Jenkins: Gentlemanly behaviour

    H&H's content director commends one of Britain's dressage greats and questions the reasoning behind the use of an upsetting image

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