Nick Skelton and Big Star (from Quick Star) won the Olympic individual gold medal at the Olympics in Rio. Here are some facts you need to know about this 13-year old Dutch Warmblood stallion.
- The horse was bred by Cees Klaver and was originally named ‘What a Quick Star K’.
- Egbert Schep, a Dutch horse dealer, acquired the horse at the age of three years and sold it to the sponsors of Nick Skelton, Gary and Beverley Widdowson.
- As a six year old Big Star took the British young horse title with Nick Skelton as a rider. But it was only in 2012 when he showed his great potential. He took home the gold team medal at the London Olympics being the youngest horse there. It looked like he was going to take the individual gold but he had one rail down and ended fifth.
- Big Star was named KWPN horse of the year in 2012.
- Gary Widdowson, Big Star’s owner, told Horse and Hound that one of Big Star’s unique attributes is the way he moves. ‘If you watch him in the ring, he really pounds the ground,’ he says. ‘He comes round the corner, Nick’s holding back this runaway train, he’s striking the ground as he goes to the fences, then he throws himself in to the ground as he jumps. The vets have said the amount of pressure he puts down as he moves is way more than any other horse.’
- Big Star injured a leg at the Dublin Nations Cup of 2013. After a recovery period Big Star was considered cured in 2014 so he could focus on the World Equestrian Games but in July Big Star Star suffered another leg injury. He made his comeback at little competitions at the end of 2015 and jumped in Wellington in 2016. But it was only in May 2016 that he returned to the highest level at La Baule.
- Big Star’s rider Nick Skelton began riding at the age of 18 months. In 1975 he took home two silver team medals and individual gold at the Junior European Championships. Nick Skelton broke his in neck in September 2000. In 2001 he retired but after recovering he began competing again in 2002 with Arko III. He has been in the British team for many years which resulted in many victories.
- Big Star’s groom Mark Beever is a very important factor in the team success and he was praised for that by Nick Skelton. ‘My groom has been with me for 31 years. If you realised how many hours in the day he spends with that horse (Big Star), you would be amazed. He is with him nine hours a day, constantly caring for and looking after him.’
- Mark Beever also told me while I was at Knokke Hippique that Big Star is a gentle giant and that he loves bananas.
- Big Star has a little wart on top of his left eye.
- Nick Skelton refers to Big Star as ‘the best horse I am ever likely to have.’