BOX OFFICE SUCCESS
There were no regrets when this film was screened around Europe on its release in 2013. It did well at the box office and continues to be shown today on cable networks around the world. The Hollywood Reporter described it as “part inspirational sports movie, part bromance between a guy and his prize-winning horse… offering up a rather classic mix of stunts and sentiment before galloping ahead to its stirring equine finale”.
Jappeloup de Luze was an amazing, against-all-odds showjumper. For years a sculpture of the little gelding stood on the lawn at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne. It has now been returned to his rider.
Vicki Roycroft remembers Jappeloup well – she too had a little horse named Apache, a 15.2hh OTT Thoroughbred she had bought for $500 and competed on overseas.
“I went to Europe for the first time and jumped with him in 1987. Jappeloup was competing at the top level. I’d watched him at the 1984 Olympics as I was in LA with the Australian eventing team and I saw poor Pierre getting dumped. After that happened the horse was almost sold to one of Joe Fargis’ clients, but that didn’t happen as it didn’t pass the piroplasmosis test.
(An American, John Lester, had wanted to buy the horse for his son for $400,000).
“I got to know Durand on the 1987 circuit; he was such a lovely guy and today is a personal friend. His horse was fabulous – careful, athletic and agile, and it was he who produced it.”
Often Vicki and Pierre would be in line-ups together on their two little horses, and towering next to them would be the lower placed thumping big warmbloods. “European spectators loved Apache and Jappeloup; whenever we entered the ring the crowd would go mad. We competed many times together and Apache would often finish in front.
“I would love to have ridden in Seoul. My horse was ranked in the world’s top 20, but there was no High Performance funding then. We’d won the Rome Grand Prix and people were knocking each other down to buy him.”
Alan Bond wanted the horse for his daughter, Susanne, and made her an offer too good to refuse. “It set up Wayne and me to do a lot of stuff we could never had done,” she declares, “but it still broke my heart at the time. Apache then incurred an injury and for much of ’88 was out of action – so maybe that was fate.”
Vicki bought him back when he was 19. “I intended to retire him but I did another season after I came back from Europe because he looked so good. He got to mini-prix, won some prestigious classes and then he won the warm-up for the World Cup at Horseworld. I thought it was time to finish on a good note and retire him.” Apache is buried in a field on her Mt White property on the NSW Central Coast.
Jappeloup’s retirement ceremony was held at the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Sadly, he died three months later of a heart attack. He was 16 years old. EQ
Next month in Equestrian Life’s series on Horses and Movies, My Friend Flicka.
You also might like to read by Suzy Jarratt:
Viggo Mortensen Saves the Day! (Hidalgo) – Equestrian Life, March, 2021
Meet Phar Lap’s Double, Towering Inferno – Equestrian Life, February 2021
Black Beauty Rides Again – Equestrian Life, January 2021
The Secrets Behind ‘Australia’ – Equestrian Life, December 2020
From Roy Rogers to Saddle Clubbing, the Horses Starred – Equestrian Life, November 2020
Poetry Jumps to Life & Yes, Horse Can Talk! – Equestrian Life, October 2020
When Your Co-Stars Are Real Animals – Equestrian Life, September 2020
Horsing Around on the Big Screen – Equestrian Life, August 2020