While everyone else is handing out Year End Awards, we at Horse Nation prefer to hand out Rear End Awards. Eternally a fan of the underdog, today we honor the horse and horseman who most successfully “brought up the rear” in 2012.
- HORSE OF THE YEAR
I’ll Have Another
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
If you could’ve rustled up $11,000 in 2010, you could have bought I’ll Have Another as an unbroken yearling at the Keeneland September sale. A year later he sold for a still relatively meager $35,000 to his next owner, J. Paul Reddam, who placed him in training with Doug O’Neill.
The 15.3-hh colt wasn’t supposed to have won the 2012 Kentucky Derby. He headed into the gate at Churchill Downs with 15-1 odds against an unusually strong field. The world then watched, stunned, as he came up from behind to beat the 4-1 favorite Bodemeister by 1.5 lengths.
I’ll Have Another stole the show once more two weeks later in the Preakness, again coming from behind to beat Bodemeister by a neck. By now he’d netted over $2.6 million in winnings and was two-thirds of the way to becoming the first Triple Crown winner in 34 years. The nation’s hopes were dashed, however, when I’ll Have Another was withdrawn the day before the Belmont Stakes due to an injury.
Thank you, I’ll Have Another, for both literally and figuratively coming up from behind to overcome the odds. Numbers are just numbers; heart is heart. We could all learn a thing or two from your style.
- HORSEMAN OF THE YEAR
This Russian event rider might not have won any Olympic medals this year, but his amazing ‘stache won a place in our hearts forever.
But that’s not why Horse Nation has named Andrei Horseman of the Year. As you well know (some of us more than others), in every competition, someone has to finish dead last. Andrei stepped up to the plate in London, holding down the bottom of the scoreboard with a dressage score of 80.20, 32.80 cross-country penalties, and–wait for it–52 stadium jumping faults. I think that means he pulled 13 rails.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Andrei had some haters during the games, but he earned his ticket to London fair and square. He and his competition partner, Fabiy, have twice represented Russia in the European Championships, and they’ve placed in the top 10 in five different CCI***s. In London, the pair bounced back from a bad dressage test to jump well, if a little slow, around a tough cross-country course. They finished the competition, and that in itself is worth a round of applause.
Also, let’s take a moment to appreciate his commitment to his sport. Can you imagine being an eventer in Russia? Not exactly horse country. Undeterred, Andrei is president of the Equestrian Federation of the Samara region. When the FEI asked him why he chose to participate in eventing, his response was that it was the sport he loved.
Thank you, Andrei, for reminding us that it’s about much more than just a podium. Sometimes just getting there is enough, especially if you’re rocking a cool ‘stache along the way.
There you have it, Horse Nation: one horse and one horseman who, whether they won or lost, will always be champions to us for “bringing up the rear.” What other horse and horsemen of 2012 do you think deserve some extra recognition?