Source: Equine Canada
Renowned show jumper, Sympatico (The Hammer x Black Gang) has been announced as a 2018 inductee to the Show Jumping Hall of Fame in Lexington, KY. The 1965 Thoroughbred gelding dominated the show jumping circuits of the 1970s, and was a decorated member of the Canadian Equestrian Team (CET).
A descendent of the great racehorse, Man O’ War, Sympatico was a commanding presence standing at 17.1 hands. His career began in the United States, where he earned a reputation as a champion grand prix and puissance horse from 1972 to 1975. Paired with famed American Puissance rider, Anthony D’Ambrosio, Sympatico racked up wins at prestigious horse shows across North America and set a world record in the process with a puissance jump of 7’4” at the 1973 National Horse Show in New York City, NY.
In 1975, Sympatico caught the eye of legendary Thoroughbred owner, Ernest Samuel of Sam-Son Farm in Milton, ON. Samuel purchased the big bay and subsequently brought his talents to the CET with Olympian Jim Day, who worked as a trainer at Sam-Son Farm, as his rider.
Day added to Sympatico’s stellar record with wins in 1976 at the grand prix in Aurora, ON, and in three classes in the Royal Horse Show in Toronto, ON, including a puissance win with a jump height of 7’2”. The duo was selected for the 1976 Montreal Olympics, where they helped the team to a fifth-place finish.
Another CET athlete, Terry Landon (née Leibel), took the reins from Day when she bought Sympatico from Sam-Son Farm in 1977.
“I wasted no time in trying him and buying him,” said Landon, who is renowned not only as an athlete, but as a journalist, having been the first woman to ever host a CBC Olympic Games broadcast. “He was by far the greatest and most powerful horse I had ever ridden. His stride was huge, so he covered the ground easily and had immense jumping capability. In the 1970s, course designers used much heavier material, deeper cups, and constructed huge courses. It was the era of pure power, and Sympatico was among a handful horses of his era that could handle the size and challenges.”
Cognizant of his experience and protective of his longevity, Landon showed Sympatico sparingly; however, whenever the talented pair performed they easily swept the competition. Together, Landon and Sympatico claimed victory in the 1978 Ocala Grand Prix and 1978 Rotterdam Grand Prix, and helped Team Canada place fourth at the 1978 Aachen World Championships.
Sadly, their run was cut short at the 1979 San Juan Pan American Games. While the duo’s effort in the speed event helped Team Canada bring home the silver medal, Sympatico contracted a virus and passed away soon after.
“Outside of the ring, it was an honour to ride and care for Sympatico, who was regarded as an equine legend,” said Landon. “It gives me great pride that he is being inducted into the Show Jumping Hall of Fame.”
The Show Jumping Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place at the Devon Horse Show in Devon, PA on May 31, 2018
Photo: Champion show jumper Sympatico, shown here with CET athlete, Terry Landon, will be inducted into the Show Jumping Hall of Fame on May 31, 2018 at the Devon Horse Show in Devon, PA. Photo courtesy of Terry Landon/Equine Canada.