Monday 30 May 2011

Equestrian Dynasty :: Roycroft

 

The patriarch of Australia’s greatest equestrian dynasty, five-times Olympian Bill Roycroft, passed away yesterday at the age of 96. Roycroft, who was Australia’s oldest surviving Olympian, heroically won Australia’s first Olympic gold medal in the three-day event at the 1960 Rome Olympics at the age of 45.

The horseman from a central Victorian dairy farm won gold

in the three-day team event despite riding with a broken shoulder.

Roycroft navigated his trusty Our Solo around the Olympic course

while heavily sedated, having effectively broken out of hospital.

Individual and Team Gold, Rome 1960: Australian equestrian team members (from left) Laurie Morgan, John Kelly, Neale Lavis, Bill Roycroft and Brian Crago. Morgan won the individual three-day gold medal, and he, Lavis and Roycroft won the team event.

Bill made the 1960’s Rome Olympics an unforgettable event. His unimpeachable performance brought the Australia on the path of victory. It was a remarkable feat after he was initially considered unable to compete in the final round after breaking his collarbone in a fall in the steeplechase.  He had flown by helicopter to hospital outside Rome. When other team members were unable to compete, Roycroft famously signed himself out of hospital against doctors’ orders.  On the field, his comrades had to dress him for the last ride by the dint of injuries. He was unable to bend himself but with all his profound strength he holistically completed the round of 12 jumps and clinched the gold for the team. But when other team members were unable to compete, Roycroft famously signed himself out of hospital against doctors’ orders and completed the final showjumping round flawlessly. Here he was catapulted to international stardom and won a gold medal for Australia. That was the most prestigious moment!

Bill Roycroft is one of Australia’s greatest Olympians. He was born on a dairy farm in central Victoria in 1915 and grew up during the Depression. Bill rode in his first Olympics at the age of 45, in Rome, 1960. Bill went on to compete in four more Olympics.

He established a dynasty with his three sons Barry, Wayne and Clarke, who all went on to compete in Olympic eventing, as did Wayne’s former wife Vicki. As head coach, Wayne Roycroft also led the Australian team to three consecutive Olympic eventing gold medals from 1992 to 2000.

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Saturday 14 May 2011

Black Caviar :: girl power

 

Champion mare Black Caviar, widely regarded as the best race horse in the world,

is the celebrity everyone wants to see as she goes for her 13th straight win today.

In Chasing a Dream, Les Carlyon wrote “The racehorse is spendidly unscientific. The great ones do what they shouldn’t be able to do. The racehorse is proof that two plus two can still come up nine”.

Of Caviar in Black

by Rupert McCall

I filled my plate with Phar Lap; put some Bernborough on the side
My champagne glass was Rising Fast in toasting Tulloch’s ride
I lapped up Manikato and I craved for Kingston Town
I dined on Might and Power as I drank the Diva down
A Saintly slice of Sunline had the most immortal flavour
Octagonal with Northerly, the taste could not be braver
But then they served another course on racing’s mighty track
They served a dish of Caviar, of Caviar in Black

And her texture was colossal as the magic was digested
Her jet black spots emblazoned on a rider, salmon-crested
There was something in my stomach that I’d never had before
A feeling unforgettable that came out with a roar!
My mind flashed back to Phar Lap in the day of the depression
It suddenly occurred to me – she’d made the same impression
And the shiver was electric as it galloped down my back
When I saw the speed of Caviar, of Caviar in Black

And behind her and aboard her were the diamonds in the rough
A horseman from Wyandra who was made of solid stuff
And a pilot from Manangatang with hands and heels like wings
You wake up one cold morning and behold, the new day brings!
It brings a dawn so powerful – an appetite so strong
The punters thought they’d seen it all… but then she came along
You spy a humble hurricane and hear the lightning crack
And you know that it’s the Caviar, the Caviar in Black

And I want to be beside her when she hurtles down the aisle
I have to tell my grandkids how she made a poor man smile
How she made me feel a rich man in my hey day, in my prime
It needs to start, instinctively, with ‘once upon a time’
Horses have that special way of making us feel free
Despite their proud connections, they belong to you and me
And that’s an epic quality she never seemed to lack
It’s a simple twist of Caviar, of Caviar in Black

I ventured to the racecourse just to see her in the flesh
Expectation, history and inspiration mesh
And they culminate in something that reverberates with pride
In the undulating beauty of her mesmerizing stride
For beyond the sacred stopwatch that defines her famous place
The telling of the story lives on every person’s face
And the day will overwhelm me when I cast my memory back
Just to say I saw the Caviar, the Caviar in Black.

{Images by Bronwen Healy Photography}

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Wednesday 11 May 2011

j’adore des chevaux

 

The spirited, powerful beauty of horses.

In Greek mythology, horses had the ability to heal, or ward off evil.

{Image via tumblr}

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