‘Ugly’ Buzz proves to be full of surprises

UNIQUE: Opposition Buzz poses with Northallerton rider Nicola Wilson, left, and owner/breeder Rosemary Search at Wetherby races in October 2012. Picture by Gary Longbottom.
UNIQUE: Opposition Buzz poses with Northallerton rider Nicola Wilson, left, and owner/breeder Rosemary Search at Wetherby races in October 2012. Picture by Gary Longbottom.
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ROSEMARY Search did not expect much upon delivering home-bred Opposition Buzz back in 1997.

Just over 17 years later her beloved star retires having represented Team GB at four championships, bagging two golds, one bronze and an Olympic silver.

Search now has five-year-old mare Bee Naround to look forward to but admitted: “there will never be another Dodi’.”

Opposition Buzz, affectionately known as Dodi, bowed out of action at last weekend’s Allerton Park Horse Trials.

The 17-year-old was denied the perfect finish when pipped into second by Mark Kyle and Jemilla in the Advanced section, but there is no denying that Search’s star has already enjoyed a fairytale career.

A London 2012 team eventing silver medal comes top of the pile and Search was moved to tears when reflecting on the jet-setting international glories of Opposition Buzz’s glittering career. But upon delivering Dodi, such success was certainly not envisaged.

The Wetherby-based owner knows Opposition Buzz’s medal haul has been a thing of beauty, but the early days were most definitely not.

“He’s homebred and when I delivered him he was the ugliest foal you’ve ever seen,” Search told The Yorkshire Post.

“He’s got an enormous head which did not fit his body at all and he’s got enormous ears stuck on top of this enormous head. He’s got two front feet which didn’t match which is not what you want for a competition horse. But he’s just defied everybody because he’s got such a big heart.

“He loves the cross-country and it’s always ‘where’s the next fence’ not ‘can I jump it’ but ‘how quickly can we get over it and get to the next one.’

“It was the dressage that was a problem because his conformation isn’t brilliant and Nicola’s team have done wonderfully well to keep him sound and happy all this time – for 10 years.

“He’s 17 now and you don’t know how he’s going to come up next spring. And both of us – we’d rather finish him at the top with him being well. He’s had a wonderful season and we just felt that Allerton Park would be a nice finale – on the doorstep so the Yorkshire people can see it.

“Dodi has been unbelievable. He’s taken me to the States twice, to France, Germany, I’ve been all over with him and at the top level – Olympics, World Championships, two Europeans and he’s got two gold medals, one silver and one bronze. He’s got the whole set. The Olympics was the highlight and that has been Nicola’s dream since she was a child. It was very special.”

Together, Wilson and Opposition Buzz were given a heroic reception last weekend and, even in retirement, a 2015 guest appearance and parade at Bramham might yet be in the offing. Either way, with Search preparing to sell her Kearby land, Opposition Buzz will now spend the remainder of his years with Wilson who also has the ride on the Search-owned Bee Naround who is from the same family as Opposition Buzz. Bee Naround is only five-years-old and Opposition Buzz was just seven when sent to Wilson.

Search recalled: “When I decided that he’d got talent and that he was going to go to Advanced I wanted a local rider because I wanted to keep seeing him. If I’d have chosen William Fox-Pitt where is it? Dorset and the next step, you’re in the sea.

“I felt Nicola was up and coming and just needed the right horse. Big headedly I thought my horse was the right horse.”

That opinion has proved completely justified and while Search is now looking forward to more fun with Wilson on Bee Naround, Opposition Buzz’s owner and breeder knows full well she has already had her horse of a lifetime.

“Bee Naround’s a bit like Dodi over cross-country – she doesn’t think about stopping,” said Search. “Hopefully, she’ll go Advanced and we’ll have fun – but she’ll never be another Dodi.”