Legends of the sport: New Zealand’s world and Olympic eventing champion Blyth Tait *H&H Plus*

  • A racing and showjumping background laid the foundations for one of the best eventing careers of the last century. Catherine Austen picks out the highlights with former Olympic and double world champion Blyth Tait

    Being at the “pinnacle” of a sport is a well-worn expression. If there is an achievement, however, that places you at the very top, above all your peers, it must be to be Olympic and world champion simultaneously. In eventing, only two riders have done this. The most recent example is the German phenomenon that is Michael Jung, but Blyth Tait did it first.

    The diminutive, quick-witted New Zealander had already finished in top spot in one World Championship – at Stockholm in 1990 on Messiah – when he came across the horse that would give him a second title eight years later and that sporting grail, an individual Olympic gold medal.

    Blyth’s father, Bob, saw a chestnut thoroughbred with a white blaze at a Pony Club event in New Zealand. He bought him for NZ$5,000 (equivalent to £1,650 at the time), and sent him to Blyth in Britain. The horse, half-brother to a very successful steeplechaser, had run in trial races but hadn’t made it to the track itself. Bob named him Ready Teddy, dreaming that he’d go to the Olympics and the starter would say, “Ready, Teddy, go!”