Olympic three-day Eventer Boyd Martin says there was no “mystery” to his decision to compete an off-track Thoroughbred against the very best sport horses at Rolex last month.
Simply put, his 11-year-old gelding Blackfoot Mystery was the best horse for the job, even pitted against “specifically bred” international sport horses who drop from their mother’s bellies with the genes to compete at all three phases: dressage, cross-country, and show jumping.
Sire: Out of Place
Dam: True Mystery, by Proud Truth
Foal date: April 30, 2004“I think the deciding factor in three-day Eventing is the cross-country. You need a horse to have stamina and endurance, and that’s why I went with a Thoroughbred,” Martin says in a telephone interview with Off TrackThoroughbreds.com. “They’re bred to run fast and for long distances … and even though there are horses are being specifically bred for Eventing, I feel a good Thoroughbred can take out any breed.”
Martin obtained his eye-catching gelding about 10 months ago after learning from a former student that Blackfoot Mystery, the horse he’d admired for his “old style Thoroughbred build” —a big, lanky type with a long-distance quality— was being offered for sale.
“I was teaching his former rider when last year she mentioned she’d sell him. As soon as she said it, I rushed to call all of my owners to try to rally the money together to buy him,” says Martin, who notes that he believes the chestnut Thoroughbred is “the complete package,” a horse who could become a chart-topping performer.
“He’s very sound and very good at the dressage,” says Martin, who notes that finding a horse who has the movement for dressage, the stamina for cross-country, and the aptitude for show jumping is what keeps him looking toward the Thoroughbreds for that rare trifecta possessed by Blackfoot Mystery. So thrilled is he with his 17.2-hand gem that he told Eventing Nation last July that he thought this Thoroughbred might be Olympic level.
“For me, I’m trying to put together a group of top class horses for the Olympics next year. This will be the first off-track Thoroughbred I’ve syndicated since Neville Bardos,” Martin told Eventing Nation. “I don’t think horses of this caliber come up for sale very often, and I feel incredibly lucky to have the ride on him.”
Martin’s decision to campaign an OTTB in the upper echelons of horse sport was music to the ears of longtime OTTB advocate Steuart Pittman.
Pittman founded the Retired Racehorse Project to help prove that OTTBs make excellent sport horses; the same reasons Martin selected an OTTB for competition.
“Most stories of off-track Thoroughbreds at Rolex are about young up-and-coming riders whose careers were launched by the ex-racehorse that nobody else wanted. The top riders usually move on to the purpose-bred horses that their clients bring to them,” Pittman says.
“Boyd Martin could have put a syndicate together to buy any event horse in the world that he believed in. People in the sport know that. When his search brought him to an American Thoroughbred ex-racehorse that sent a great message to young trainers.”
“It means they can go to the track, find a talented horse, train it well, and sell it on for serious money to a top rider.”