We all had a horrible shock at the news today of the tragic loss of the irrepressible ‘Dodi’, Rosemary Search’s phenomenal gelding by Fleetwater Opposition out of Jungle Bee.
Piloted so ably by Nicola Wilson for the past 10 years, he became the Team GB pathfinder and was immensely successful, resulting in team medals at all the major championships including gold at the 2009 Fontainebleau Europeans & 2010 Kentucky WEG, and of course not forgetting the Olympic Silver on home turf at Greenwich. With his distinctive ‘Harrier Jump Jet’ style of launching flamboyantly over the fences, often giving them feet to spare, he became a crowd favourite.
Very few horses have the bravery and scope to make 4* fences look truly small and easy. He was one of that very select band. He always looked immensely cocky and as if he was having a whale of a time out there. The blithe competence with which he skipped around the Greenwich Olympic track will always stay in my mind, he made it look really easy.
He was irrepressible at trot-ups too, lit up like a Christmas tree for his crowd, Nicola usually smiling wryly as she struggled at times to control him. At Badminton a few years ago she had her groom primed to run in diagonally at the end of the trot-up to help her to pull him up straight and safely, as he was getting totally carried away in the atmosphere. The perfectly-timed Usain-Bolt-worthy sprint to grab hold of the right rein worked perfectly, and got a ripple of applause and laughter from those who witnessed it.
This photo, taken by (and used with full permission of) Katherine Begley, shows his extraordinary scope. That is a maximum-dimension 4* fence. He treats it as if it were a metre high. He must have felt truly amazing to ride.
Dodi amassed well over 2,000 BE points in his stellar career. He was a huge favourite with the crowd, and on his final xc run at Allerton Advanced only two months ago, he was cheered all the way round the course by the onlookers.
I have never heard of that being done for any other horse. What a fitting send-off for a true legend.
Our condolences to Rosemary, Nicola and all her team. We were all privileged to witness him in action, a true superstar of Eventing.