These short articles are currently being published one at a time in the White Hat Melbourne Newsletter. As they form part of the weekly quiz in that newsletter, no names or dates are given. However, anybody familiar with Australian sport will know the people and occasions to which they refer, and it should to take little research for those less familiar to unearth that information. We don't claim these to be the seven greatest moments in Australian sport, just seven great moments, in no particular order, that we at White Hat find particularly significant. If you don't like our list that is not a problem. You may be inspired to go and make your own

 

No.3 - Equestrian

“Where’s my bloody horse?”

The rider had been thrown at a jump and the horse landed on top of him rendering him unconscious. When he came to, the first words he said  were:

“Where’s my bloody horse?”

Now, most Australians can usually name a number of Melbourne Cup winners, Carbine, Pharlap, Makybe Diva perhaps, but fewer would recognise the bloody horse in question in this particular case. The rider in question was Bill. The location was an Olympic Games where, during the punishing cross country section of the Three Day equestrian event, his horse had clipped the concrete pipes that formed one of the jumps and landed on top of him.

Bill was used to tough times. He’d worked some pretty tough jobs and been to the war and work on the farm is never easy. He was pretty unimpressed with Australia’s equestrian performance at previous Olympics so with greying hair at the age of 45 he decided to start his own Olympic career. And now his bloody horse had thrown him. Of course he may have approached the barrier too fast or been uneven in the saddle, but that didn’t matter now. He needed to finish the course because this was a team event.

“Where’s my bloody horse?”

Staring down at him was said creature. Bill remounted and finished the course with a broken shoulder, bruised ribs and concussion. At the end of the course he was offered oxygen and whisky. He accepted both – light on the oxygen, heavy on the whisky – before being flown to hospital. It was there he learned that one of the Australian team’s horses had become lame and, because it needed three riders to compete on the final showjumping day to be eligible for a gold medal, he decided to release himself from hospital. The local doctors had confiscated his clothes to prevent such an action but he declared he was prepared to leave in only his y-fronts – a fairly scary proposition for the local matrons..

The next day he was assisted into his costume with one helpless arm strapped.

“Where’s my bloody horse?”

Fortunately there was no oral test as part of the dressage. He was helped into the saddle and then his somewhat maligned steed, guided mainly by knee pressure and voice, completed a faultless round helping Australia to a team gold medal.

Many will remember Bill's name. Fewer will remember the name of his bloody horse. Horses aren't awarded medals in the Olympics.

BL

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Four more great moments to follow in the coming weeks in our newsletters and we will them place them on this page when we get time.