Getting a horse to four-star level is not easy. Getting a horse into the top 10 at four-star level is harder again. Doing it every time? Nearly impossible! The chances of getting that top 10 finish at four-star level on four consecutive occasions is just 0.1%. Wait until you see what Bay My Hero has done!
We look at some of the horses who maintained that perfect top level top 10 streak until recently. There are four on the list who have delivered it every time. Two of them are horses we expect to see at the business end of four-stars across 2018.
La Biosthetique Sam FBW
- Badminton 2017 – 2nd
- Olympics 2016 – 1st
- Badminton 2016 – 1st
- Burghley 2015 – 1st
- Luhmühlen 2015 – 3rd
- Kentucky 2015 – 3rd
- Badminton 2013 – 2nd
- Olympics 2012 – 1st
- WEG 2010 – 1st
- Luhmühlen 2009 – 1st
We call him the greatest event horse of all time for a reason. We are talking about consecutive top 10 placings at CCI4* level, but Sam finished in the top three 10 times in a row. The next horse on the list, Parklane Hawk, only made it to five. Throw in a WEG gold medal and two Olympic golds and we rest our case.
While Sam broke the historic streak at Burghley this year with a gutting runout at the Trout Hatchery, we will always champion the champion. It counts him out of the every time record, sadly. We’ve written extensively about Sam’s superiority, most recently for Noelle Floyd Magazine. If you missed that article, read it here.
- Burghley 2011 – 1st
- Kentucky 2012 – 1st
- Burghley 2012 – 3rd
- Badminton 2013 – 5th
- Burghley 2013 – 3rd
Second only to La Biostheque Sam FBW on this list, Parklane Hawk recorded five consecutive top five finishes at CCI4* level across three seasons. He started with a bang, winning his CCI4* debut at Burghley 2011 on 40.7, adding just 1.0 time penalty in show jumping, which proved to be his nemesis phase. That was the closest he came in his career to a fault-free show jumping round at CCI4* level.
He went on to win Kentucky the following spring in 2012, adding one rail to complete on 45.3. Then it was on to Burghley to defend the title. Two rails down saw him finish third on 51.4 and miss out on the win to Avebury. He finished fifth at Badminton the following spring in 2013 on 44.0 with one rail down.
The final CCI4* completion of Parklane Hawk’s career came at Burghley 2013, where two rails down saw him settle for third on 50.3. While a fall at Badminton in 2014 ended the streak, he remains one of the all-time great horses in William Fox-Pitt’s career.
- Luhmühlen 2011 – 2nd
- Olympics 2012 – 3rd
- Badminton 2013 – 4th
- WEG 2014 – 1st
He is the reigning World Champ and a big favorite at HQ. Opgun Louvo made his CCI4* debut in 2011, adding one rail to his dressage score to finish second on 43.0. The following year in London he helped Germany win Olympic team gold and landed on the podium himself with individual bronze, adding only 4.8 time penalties on cross country to complete on 44.8.
The following spring at Badminton saw an elite group of Olympic veterans face off. Opgun Louvo once again added only a handful of cross country time penalties to finish fourth on 42.5. He followed the pattern in Normandy, prevailing against the mud at WEG to take the individual gold medal with 16.8 cross country time penalties added.
While he broke the streak with an 11th place finish at the Rio Olympic Games, Opgun Louvo will always have his rightful place in the record books. Just not this record book.
FRH Butts Leon
- Olympics 2008 – 8th
- Luhmühlen 2009 – 2nd
- Pau 2009 – 2nd
- Badminton 2010 – 2nd
FRH Butts Leon represented Germany with Andreas Dibowski at the 2008 Hong King Olympics, finishing eighth on 65.2. He then went on to finish no lower than second in his next three CCI4* runs.
At Luhmühlen in 2009 he finished second on 49.3, adding one rail to his dressage score. At Pau that same year he added 4.8 time penalties to finish second on 48.6. At Badminton in 2010 he finished second once again, tacking on 4.8 time penalties to complete on 48.6.
He then went on to represent Thailand in London with Nina Ligon, who became the first Asian woman to ever compete in Olympic eventing. A storied career through and through!
Bay My Hero
- Pau 2012 – 4th
- Kentucky 2014 – 1st
- Burghley 2014 – 4th
- Kentucky 2015 – 4th
Bay My Hero is the only horse in this elite group to never finish outside the top five in his CCI4* starts. The chances of achieving that? 0.006%. His first four-star saw him finish fourth at Pau on 41.7, adding just one rail to his dressage score. In 2014 he gave William Fox-Pitt the third Kentucky win of his career with a 44.0 FOD.
In 2014 he took on Burghley, adding 20.8 time penalties in a year when no one made the time to finish fourth on 60.3. In 2015 he returned to Kentucky as the defending winner, but adding 8.4 time penalties to his dressage score saw him finish fourth on 46.9.
We have not seen Bay My Hero compete at international level since the 2015 European Championships at Blair Castle, but he returned to competing in an Open Intermediate section at Oasby last month. Will we see 15-year-old Bay My Hero return to the CCI4* level? Watch this space!
- Kentucky 2008 – 9th
- Kentucky 2010 – 4th
- WEG 2010 – 10th
- Burghley 2011 – 7th
This horse’s story could be a blockbuster movie. Neville Bardos raced as a 3-year-old in Australia before Boyd Martin bought him as an eventing prospect. He nearly gave the horse back upon discovering that Neville is a voracious cribber. But he kept him anyways, bringing Neville to America when he moved to the country in 2007. The following year Boyd and Neville finished ninth at Kentucky on 69.0, adding three rails and 2.0 time penalties in show jumping.
In 2010 Neville returned to the CCI4* level, finishing fourth at Kentucky on his dressage score of 51.8 to clinch a spot on the U.S. World Equestrian Games team. He finished 10th at WEG on his dressage score of 49.5 to complete as the highest placed American horse.
In the summer of 2011 Boyd and Phillip Dutton saved him from a burning barn. They were able to find Neville through the thick smoke because he was wearing his cribbing collar. After recovering from burns and damage to his lungs due to smoke inhalation, Neville went to Burghley just a few short months later, adding one show jumping rail to his dressage score to finish seventh on 53.7.
It is one of the most incredible comebacks we have seen in the last decade. Neville retired from international level in 2012. He is one of only four horses in the last nine seasons to place in the top 10 every time he competed at CCI4* level.
- Burghley 2015 – 8th
- Badminton 2016 – 7th
- Burghley 2016 – 10th
- Burghley 2017 – 7th
Star Witness’s last four international runs have all been at CCI4* level, and it’s a smart strategy for Tina Cook. He has finished in the top 10 for three consecutive years at Burghley, plus delivered an FOD at Badminton. While his CCI4* dressage average of 50.8 leaves him off the pace after the first phase, his strength in both jumping phases makes him a surefire threat to climb the leaderboard.
In his CCI4* debut at Burghley in 2015, Star Witness added 5.2 time penalties on cross country to finish eighth on 52.6. The following spring at Badminton 2016 he delivered the best CCI4* performance of his career, finishing on his dressage score of 49.7 for seventh place. Star Witness returned to Burghley in 2016, adding 12 cross country time penalties and one show jumping rail to finish 10th on 68.9.
We most recently saw Star Witness at Burghley 2017, where he blitzed around cross country and caught the optimum time as the pathfinder to finish seventh on his dressage score of 53.2. At only 12 years old, we will almost certainly see Star Witness add more CCI4* top 10 finishes to his record. Horse number three to have a perfect top 10 CCI4* record!
- Adelaide 2015 – 3rd
- Badminton 2016 – 5th
- Olympics 2016 – 6th
- Adelaide 2017 – 1st
Balmoral Sensation joins this elite group thanks to his Adelaide win with Clarke Johnstone. He made his CCI4* debut at Adelaide in 2015, adding 4.0 cross country time penalties to finish third on 45.6. The following spring Clarke made the long trip to the UK to compete at Badminton, where he impressed with a fifth place finish on 45.6, adding just 4.8 time penalties on cross country.
In 2016 Clarke and the ‘Snowman’ landed a spot on the New Zealand Olympic team and did not disappoint, finishing sixth as the highest placed Kiwi combination on 59.3, adding 4.8 cross country time penalties and two rails in the second round of show jumping. At the weekend Balmoral Sensation clinched a wire-to-wire win at Adelaide, adding 8.8 time penalties to finish on 54.7.
At 13 years old Balmoral Sensation is just hitting his prime. The Snowman is the fourth and final horse to make the list of top level, top 10, every time!