A Legendary Derby, An OTTB And A Perfect 100: Top 5 Throwback Thursdays of 2019

Dec 2, 2019 - 3:50 PM

At the Chronicle, we like to remember and honor those who came before us in equestrian sport. We love bringing you stories of the past, and we’re lucky to have our archived articles, which date back to the Chronicle’s first publication in 1937, for reference. Here’s a look at the top five Throwback Thursdays from 2019.

#5 Pippa Funnell’s Tension-Filled Burghley Win From 16 Years Ago

TBT03BurghleyPippaFunnellBritish superstar eventer Pippa Funnell suffered a long drought after her stint as the best in the sport when she won the $250,000 Rolex Grand Slam in 2003. But this year she rose to the top once more with another Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (England) victory. We took a look back at the Burghley win that changed her life along with a highlight reel of moments from her Grand Slam.

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#4 The Kings Of Hickstead

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Eddie Macken and his legendary horse Boomerang won England’s Hickstead Derby four times between 1976 and 1979. The trophy was retired after their last win. The Boomerang Trophy is now given to each derby winner in honor of the great horse.

“[Boomerang] was that good that you kind of expected him to win all the time,” groom Fiona Dowley said. “I don’t think either of us appreciated it at the time how great he actually was.” (Check out the video of his four derby wins.)

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#3 An OTTB Named Thrilling Put Todd Minikus On The Map

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Todd Minikus and Thrilling, his gray off-track Thoroughbred gelding, won all of the international jumper classes at the Washington International Horse Show in 1990, a feat Minikus considers to be a highlight of his career. Thrilling was the king of the Midwest Grand Prix circuit and put Minikus in the spotlight on the East Coast.

“It’s an ‘if I only knew what I knew now’ kind of thing,” Minikus said. “He was the first horse that I really made it to the top level with.”

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#2 Nelson Pessoa’s Death-Defying Derby

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Nelson Pessoa almost didn’t make it to the Hickstead Derby in 1996 due to health issues. But with a heart monitor on his wrist, he and his trusted horse Vivaldi kept his heart rate down and managed to win the prestigious event.

“The emotions I have after the competition – not during the competition – because I [was] really shaking when I crossed the final line,” said Pessoa. “It was a really special moment in competition for me and for my career and my life.” (Lots of videos in this one!)

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#1 When Osczar Achieved Perfection

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With his snappy knees and stunning coppery coat, Osczar blew away his competition in the professional hunter divisions in the mid-1990s. In 1997, Rick Fancher and Osczar made history at the Capital Challenge Horse Show (Maryland) as the first pair to earn perfection with the open numerical system.

“He was the kind of horse that people ran to the ring to watch go because he was so spectacular,” said judge Susie Humes. “When they announced that he was on deck or something, you could see a wave of people from the horse show come over to watch him go. He had a big fan club.” (Of course this one includes a video of Osczar’s famed round!)

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You can read all the Chronicle’s Throwback Thursdays here. Check out the rest of our Best Of 2019 coverage, and make sure you follow @chronofhorse on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to stay up to date with everything happening in the horse world in the new year. 

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