10 Unforgettable Olympians: Ready Teddy

In our countdown to Rio, we take a look at 10 of New Zealand's most memorable Olympic horses


3 Day Event
Blyth and Ready Teddy at Athens in 2004 (Image: Barbara Thomson)

Rider: Blyth Tait


SYDNEY, 2000

ATHENS, 2004

The flamboyant ‘Ted’ represented New Zealand at more Olympics than any other horse in history. He was also the first horse in the world to win both Olympic and WEG eventing gold (in 2012 the feat was repeated by Michael Jung’s exceptional La Biosthetique Sam) – and he won Burghley, in 2001.

ready teddy atlantasm
Ready Teddy flying around the Atlanta cross-country with Blyth. (Image: Barbara Thomson)

A thoroughbred by Brilliant Invader, he began life with the racing name of Striking Back, though never raced. He was talent-spotted by Blyth’s father at a pony club one-day event, and sent to the UK to join Blyth, who was just beginning his international career. They won their first outing together – a Novice horse trial – and a mere 18 months later won Olympic gold in Atlanta. Teddy was just eight at the time.

ready teddy atlanta 2 sm
A clean and careful show jumping round sealed the gold medal at Atlanta (Image: Barbara Thomson)

His weakest discipline was dressage, as he was inclined to high spirits, but after a haphazard start at Atlanta he performed fairly well, lying 15th after that phase. He and Blyth burst to the fore across country, clear over the jumps, with just 5.2 time penalties (the fastest round of the day). And on show jumping day, Teddy was again quick and clean, producing one of four clears, and winning gold on an all-up penalty score of 56.80. Sally Clark and Squirrel Hill won silver for New Zealand, and US rider Kerry Milliken bronze with Out and About.

At Sydney in 2000, Blyth rode Welton Envoy in the individual event, and Teddy as part of the team. Ted was brimming with excitement in the dressage, but managed to score some 8s and finish on a decent 52. Super-strong in the steeplechase and across country, he was spun on the final morning after developing a stone bruise, which sadly put our team out of contention.

Ted was strong in the cross-country at the Sydney Games, and was sadly spun after developing a stone bruise (Image: Kit Houghton)
Ted was strong in the cross-country at the Sydney Games, and was sadly spun after developing a stone bruise (Image: Kit Houghton)

In 2004, after winning at Punchestown, Teddy went to his third and final Games, Athens, aged 16.

It was a disappointing swansong for such a genuine eventing superstar; the cross-country course was short and so soft it was later described by Blyth as a ‘Novice track’. There were so many clear rounds under time that it was not possible for riders from great cross-country nations like New Zealand and Australia to rise up through the ranks. Blyth and Ted finished 18th.

Athens was Ted's third and final Olympic appearance (Image: Kit Houghton)
Athens was Ted’s third and final Olympic appearance (Image: Kit Houghton)

Ted later returned to New Zealand for a happy retirement at Blyth’s Karaka property, and died in 2011, aged 23, after suffering complications from colic.