He came, he saw, he conquered the world. The story of Nick Skelton and Big Star winning Olympic gold in Rio is tailor made for any Hollywood film producer — there have been tremendous highs, devastating lows but above all, one horse who, against all odds, made it happen. Big Star — never has a horse been better named. He’s always been a star, but in Rio he became a legend. We pick out just 10 of the many, many reasons he captured our hearts.
1. He can defy gravity
Big Star sprouts wings to clear the water jump — his nemesis on day two. The pair are airborne for long enough and high enough for Rio air traffic control to pick them up on radar.
2. He poses like a professional
Phones out – it’s time for a photo opp. Big Star shows his best side and poses like a professional for his legion of fans.
3. No scope, no hope
“These Olympic fences are ridiculously small,” says Big Star, and clears them by an extra metre, just to prove his point.
4. He jumps for pure joy
Ears pricked and knees neatly tucked, a slightly “rusty” Big Star improved with every round in Rio and he and Nick make the perfect picture over the triple bar.
5. He is faster than any racehorse
Having cleared the final fence in the jump-off and with Olympic gold at stake, Nick and Big Star could easily be riding the finish at the Cheltenham Festival.
6. He can clear absolutely anything
Blindingly bright Rio 2016-themed verticals, wavy planks that make your eyes go funny and oxers built like trains — it’s all in a day’s work for Big Star.
7. We love his enthusiasm for the job
He neighs at the jumps before he even enters the arena and then he’s up and at ‘em — chomping at the bit, itching to go faster. All Big Star wants to do is win.
8. It’s like he’s never been away
It’s been over two years since we last saw Nick and Big Star jumping at the top level, and against the clock – this has been the comeback of all comebacks. But he couldn’t have timed it better.
9. One Olympic gold medal just wasn’t enough
Only a horse of this stature could return, four years later, and produce a gold medal-winning performance for a second time.
10. We all want to give him a big hug
As Nick prepares to step up on the podium, his groom of 31 years, Mark Beever, embraces his beloved “Henry” with the biggest bear hug. We all want to give him one too. Thank you Big Star, you’ve made a nation very proud.