Olympic gold medalist Jeepster dies at 26

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Jeepster and Stuart Tinney
Jeepster and Stuart Tinney. © Tinney Eventing

Australian team gold medal winning eventer Jeepster has died at the age of 26 after battling Lymphoma.

The rugged New Zealand-bred thoroughbred had been in retirement with his owners Stuart and Karen Tinney at Maraylya, in NSW. He died in April.

Ridden by Stuart Tinney, Jeepster represented Australia overseas and in front of a roaring home crowd at Sydney’s 2000 Olympic Games.

Jeepster was the best performing Australian horse in the team event at the Sydney Games, finishing with a score of  41.00,  the lowest of any team combination. He executed an accurate dressage test, a faultless cross country round and had just one rail and a time penalty in the show jumping phase.

The other team members were Darien Powers (Andrew Hoy), Kibah Sandstone (Matt Ryan) and House Doctor (Phillip Dutton).

Jeepster also represented Australia at the Athens Games in 2004.

His other major international results include finishing 1st in the 1997 Melbourne CCI3*, 2nd in the 2003 Adelaide International  CCI4* and 9th at the 1998 World Equestrian Games in Rome. Jeepster also won the Lochinvar CCI3*, winning the 1998 event and finished second in 2000.

Jeepster at the 2000 Olympics.
Jeepster at the 2000 Olympics.

In 2000, Jeepster was crowned NSW Eventing Horse of the Year.

Stuart Tinney forged a formidable partnership with Jeepster and says Jeepster was very much a member of the family.

“Jeepster has been a great and loving friend for many years. We competed together all over the world for over 10 years with great results, culminating in his Olympic gold medal in Sydney.

“Jeepster has been a very big part of our family’s life and we will miss him dearly,” he said.

Jeepster was born in 1987 and raced as Delphic Oracle {Gay Apollo x Fille D’Anne [War Hawk]). He had 22 starts, mostly at the Illawarra and Hawksbury races, earning $17 000.

He was retired from racing at five, and tried as a movie horse by Heath and Krissy Harris before moving on to the Tinney’s. Heath explained that Jeepster had been a “tough customer”, before he showed potential in showjumping with Krissy, who said: “I had always felt he’d be a top class eventer so we got in touch with Stuart. I must admit we did teach Jeepster to lie down, bow and do the Spanish walk to help with his submission! The latter proved to be a somewhat bothersome trait.”

Michael Pribula bought Jeepster for Stuart Tinney in 1993. (Pribula sold his share to the Tinneys in 1995). Tinney says: “When Jeepster, had settled, we then realized that the Spanish walk and bowing were a slight problem!

Jeepster and Stuart Tinney (outside) with their Sydney 2000 team-mates.
Jeepster and Stuart Tinney (outside) with their Sydney 2000 team-mates.

“Especially when Jeeps went on to compete in dressage, often he would throw in his Spanish walk – and sometimes a slight hesitant bow at halt!”

In his book Making the Time  Stuart said: “He soon learnt he could use these tricks as a way of avoiding doing what I wanted him to do, so it took about three years to really learn how to get the best out of him.”

Described as feisty and spirited horse, both Stuart and Karen had to ride him to get him to settle in dressage without a buck, plunge or general naughty behavior.

In 1998 he broke his stifle at an event in Britain, and after surgery vets said he would not compete again. “This is where we thank our then physio Katherine Hamber for his return‐ (plus Jeepster’s will power, let’s not forget that! Some days it took two handlers to walk him!) Not only did he return after 9 months of physio, he went onto win a gold medal and remained on track for Athens Olympics,” Tinney said.

“He gave Stuart his very best – everything he had to give – together they won scores of events, awards and accolades both here and overseas,” said Karen Tinney.

“Jeepster made us proud and brought us such enormous joy – we are so very sad he as now gone forever from our lives.”

 

From left, Andrew Hoy and Darien Powers, Phillip Dutton and House Doctor, Matt Ryan and Kibah Sandstone, and Stuart Tinney and Jeepster after winning gold at Sydney 2000.
From left, Andrew Hoy and Darien Powers, Phillip Dutton and House Doctor, Matt Ryan and Kibah Sandstone, and Stuart Tinney and Jeepster after winning gold at Sydney 2000.

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