David Broome has long been regarded as Britain’s greatest showjumper of all-time, but is Scott Brash now making a serious challenge to take over the mantle?
Comparisons between the two are inevitable, given their consistent successes on a world stage, their remarkable ability to deliver the goods when under acute pressure and a relentless pursuit of excellence.
While sporting debates are always a matter of opinion, it is fairly safe to say that British showjumping has seen no-one like Brash since Broome ruled the roost during a golden era for the sport.
Both riders won Olympic and European medals while in their 20s
Both riders won Olympic and European medals while in their 20s – Broome memorably capturing individual bronze at the 1960 Rome Olympics on Sunsalve less than six months after his 20th birthday – while Brash helped Great Britain enjoy golden glory at London 2012 alongside team-mates Nick Skelton, Ben Maher and Peter Charles.
At 21, Broome became European individual champion the season after he won world individual bronze – both were again achieved with Sunsalve – while before he had reached the age of 28, Brash had added European team gold and individual bronze to his rapidly-expanding medal collection.
Welshman Broome, now 75 and owner of a top showjumping competition venue near Chepstow in South Wales, went on to add another Olympic bronze medal, win world team and individual titles, two more European individual crowns, plus a team gold, and any number of major grand prix successes including six King George V Gold Cup triumphs at Hickstead, plus victories at prestigious venues like London Olympia, Spruce Meadows, La Baule, St Gallen and Dublin.
Broome’s successful rides also entered showjumping’s hall of fame – genial horses like Sunsalve, Beethoven, Philco, Sportsman and Mister Softee – while his astounding longevity saw him still winning major grand prix events more than 30 years after capturing that first Olympic medal.
Scotsman Brash has gone from strength to strength since London 2012, hitting sustained heights of brilliance with 13-year-old bay gelding Hello Sanctos, the horse owned by Lord and Lady Harris and Lord and Lady Kirkham. And, again, linking Brash with Broome, Lord Harris owned Sportsman and Philco, while Broome played a key role in assessing Sanctos before he was bought for Brash.
Brash and Sanctos were crowned overall Longines Global Champions Tour winners in 2013, which came after Brash landed team gold and individual bronze at the European Championships in Herning, Denmark with Great Britain team-mates Maher, Michael Whitaker and Will Funnell.
Brash then successfully defended the Global Champions Tour crown last year, with his triumph being built on grand prix victories at GCT events in London, Cannes and Estoril, while also enjoying a long unbroken run as number one rider on the Federation Equestre Internationale’s official world rankings list.
And Brash has continued to sweep all before him this season, winning the Miami Beach GCT, while also adding the Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen to his roll of honour. Having also collected the Rolex Geneva Grand Prix title last December, he is now one more victory away from securing one of showjumping’s richest prizes.
If Brash wins the Spruce Meadows Grand Prix in September, he will become the first rider in showjumping history to complete the Rolex Grand Slam, and with it a staggering 1 million Euros bonus.
For Brash, though, the major objective at this stage of his career must undoubtedly be the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Britain has never had an Olympic individual showjumping champion – Marion Coakes (Stroller) and Ann Moore (Psalm) won silver medals in 1968 and 1972, respectively – and Brash undoubtedly offers the best chance of achieving that since Broome in his heyday.
Broome or Brash, who is the greatest?
It is a story with many pages yet to run, but one that will undoubtedly continue to make for fascinating reading.