Can one have both money and prestige? It’s an oft-discussed topic when chasing an Olympic dream, and never has the debate been hotter than in 2016, when the sport of show jumping smashed prize money records during the intensity of an Olympic year.
The top earning riders of 2016 are master architects of their annual competition schedules, and when placed side by side with the top earning horses, it’s no surprise that rider and horse often align.
However, prize money tells several different stories, as we found out when tallying up the highest earning show jumping horses of 2016.
We took a look at not only the top earning horses’ payouts, but how much prize money they competed for, and how often they campaigned.
Topping the list was Scott Brash’s mount Usula XII, cashing in at over $1.2 million dollars. The mare’s top earnings were owed largely to her consistency in the three legs of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping; she placed 2nd, 1st and 3rd at Aachen, Calgary and Geneva, respectively. While the mare had a relatively busy schedule, jumping 44 classes throughout the year, many were at lower heights as she was making her comeback from injury. In fact, Ursula XII did not jump her first 1.60m Grand Prix until June, making her payout year all the more impressive.
Of the top five earning horses, HH Azur was the only horse to also compete at the Olympic Games. A carefully planned program allowed the mare to come out with not only a medal in Rio, but one of the year’s biggest payouts in the sport of about $950,000. Jumping just 32 classes during the year, HH Azur had the lightest schedule of the top earners, yet she competed for the most money—over $9 million—proving a low frequency of high paying classes was the cornerstone of the mare’s 2016 schedule.
While none of the Rio Olympic Individual Medalists were among the top earners, Fine Lady 5 came the closest, finishing 19th overall with $387,091 total earnings. Competition at the Olympic Games does not carry a prize money purse.
Much further down the list at 104th and 149th in the rankings were respective Silver and Gold Medalists H&M All In and Big Star, each bringing home earnings in the $100,000 range. While the Olympic horses delivered consistent, clear performances throughout the season, they competed for far less money than any of the top earners. To put things into perspective, the $1.5 million total of annual prize money they competed for is less than the prize money of a single Rolex Grand Prix.
Take a closer look at the Top 5 Earning Horses along with the Rio Olympic Individual Medalists below:
*Prize $ All Classes Entered is the sum of all the prize money in any FEI class in which the horse competed. Total prize money from Nations Cups were divided by four. See the full rankings at Hippomundo.com