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‘He gave so much heart’: Olympic event horse sold to new rider

Leading US eventer Boyd Martin’s Rio 2016 Olympic ride Blackfoot Mystery has been sold to enjoy his senior years competing at lower levels.

The retrained racehorse, known as “Big Red”, finished well behind the leaders in all three of his starts on the track, but went on to become on of the US’s top event horses.

The 17-year-old gelding, bred by John O’Meara, started his eventing career with Lisa Peecook and progressed up the grades with Kelly Prather. He was bought by Boyd in 2015 for the 12-strong Blackfoot Mystery Syndicate and the pair went on to finish sixth at Kentucky five-star the following spring, and 16th at the 2016 Rio Olympics less than a year after their first international start as a combination.

Boyd said he feels “very lucky and grateful” to have had the “wonderful horse” in his stable, for the syndicate members who “decided to believe in me and purchase Big Red” and for Kelly for selling him the horse.

“He’s just an unbelievable animal that has obviously taken me to my ultimate dream of competing at the Olympic Games,” he said in his blog, adding that Red “gave everything he had” to jump clear across country in Rio.

“I’ve never had a horse give so much heart around such a course.”

Boyd said he had dreams of trying to get Red back to five-star level and potentially the Tokyo Games, but felt the time had come to redirect Red’s career.

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“I can’t tell you how happy I am that his career has got a new life with a new rider from Dallas, Texas. To me this is the perfect transition for Big Red: he’s still sound and happy and keen to go to work. His new accommodations in Dallas are first-class, and I’m guessing he will show his new rider a great taste of eventing at the lower levels,” he added, thanking Red “for everything he’s done for me in his career”.

“Being an American-bred, off-the-track thoroughbred, he really opened the door for me to teach the thoroughbred retraining clinics with Godolphin in Japan for the past five years,” he said.

“Like I said before I have tremendous appreciation and gratitude for these animals that try so hard for us, even when conditions are tough, and courses are challenging. Big Red showed the heart and spirit of the American thoroughbred and I’ll always be thankful for his efforts.”

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