The Rio Games was an emotional rollercoaster.

It was an overwhelmingly emotional for Great Britain’s Nick Skelton, who won the individual gold after an epic career comeback. It was emotional for the three riders in the jump-off who didn’t end up on the Individual podium. It was emotional for everyone who’s Olympic dream didn’t pan out.

But it was arguably most emotional for the Jeroen Dubbeldam.

Because the Olympics weren’t just another championship for the Dutch rider and his formidable partner, SNF Zenith N.O.P. It was their last championship together.

And it didn’t go to plan.

SNF Zenith N.O.P. is one of six horses owned by the Showjumping Fund of the Netherlands (SFN) that will go to auction next month. The Fund, devised by Dutch equestrian journalist Jacob Melissen, was created in 2006 with the express purpose of keeping exceptional Dutch-bred horses in the country and available to Dutch riders.

Jeroen Dubbeldam was one such beneficiary. He’s also a testament to the program’s success.

Since being partnered with the KWPH gelding five years ago, he’s claimed team and individual gold at the 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games in Caen and the 2015 FEI European Championships in Aachen in 2015, as well as team gold for the Netherlands at the 2014 Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Final in Barcelona.

But, as the cliche goes, all good things must come to an end. It was always in the cards for the SNF Board to disband after 10 years. (A new one will begin in 2017.) The goal now is to get a good financial return for the investors.

Dubbeldam knew going into Rio that it’d be the last time he was guaranteed to compete with the horse. When asked about the sale after the first Individual Qualifier, he politely refused to go into it, saying:

“If I think too much about that I don’t think it’s good for my performance.”

Come Round B of Individual Final last Friday, it was likely the only thing running through the rider’s mind as he exited the ring. Two clean rounds and Dubbeldam and SNF Zenith N.O.P. looked on track to add another medal to their impressive collection when a glance a clock revealed another story. They were two hundredths of a second over the time allowed.

Dubbeldam was gutted.


But it was in the Mixed Zone after the class when the tears fell. A heartbreaking end to an amazing partnership.

The future of SNF Zenith N.O.P. will be decided on September 21st at BVA Auctions in Amersfoort, The Netherlands. The horses can be bought on location or online. Here’s hoping a guardian fairy steps in to reunite one of the Netherland’s most successful pairs. Because any rider who loves his horse enough to cry opening in front of rabid journalists surely deserves to keep the ride.