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The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse That Inspired a Nation | [Elizabeth Letts]

The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse That Inspired a Nation

November 1958, New York. Into the rarefied atmosphere of wealth and tradition at the National Horse Show in Madison Square Garden comes the most unlikely of horses—a drab white former plow horse named Snowman—and his rider, Harry de Leyer. They were the longest of all longshots—and their win was the stuff of legend.
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Publisher's Summary

November 1958, New York. Into the rarefied atmosphere of wealth and tradition at the National Horse Show in Madison Square Garden comes the most unlikely of horses—a drab white former plow horse named Snowman—and his rider, Harry de Leyer. They were the longest of all longshots—and their win was the stuff of legend.

Harry de Leyer first saw the horse he would name Snowman on a bleak winter afternoon between the slats of a rickety truck bound for the slaughterhouse. He recognized the spark in the eye of the beaten-up horse and bought him for eighty dollars. On Harry’s modest farm on Long Island, the horse thrived. But the recent Dutch immigrant and his growing family needed money, and Harry was always on the lookout for the perfect thoroughbred to train for the show-jumping circuit—so he reluctantly sold Snowman to a farm a few miles down the road.

But Snowman had other ideas about what Harry needed. When he turned up back at Harry’s barn, dragging an old tire and a broken fence board, Harry knew that he had misjudged the horse. And so he set about teaching this shaggy, easygoing horse how to fly. One show at a time, against extraordinary odds and some of the most expensive thoroughbreds alive, the pair climbed to the very top of the sport of show jumping.

Reminiscent of the inspiring, against-the-odds success story that made Seabiscuit a best seller, The Eighty-Dollar Champion tells of the dramatic and inspiring rise to stardom of an unlikely duo, based on the insight and recollections of the “Flying Dutchman” himself. Their story captured the heart of Cold War–era America—a story of unstoppable hope, inconceivable dreams, and the chance to have it all. Elizabeth Letts’s message is simple: Never give up, even when the obstacles seem sky-high. There is something extraordinary in all of us.

©2011 Elizabeth Letts (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“This is a wonderful book—joyous, heartfelt, and an eloquent reminder that hope can be found in the unlikeliest of places.” (Gwen Cooper, New York Times best-selling author)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (629 )
5 star
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Story
4.5 (560 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Annie United States 03-21-14
    Annie United States 03-21-14 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    3
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    Story
    "Great story of a great team!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    this book as it all - the American dream & history of the horse in early 20th century


    What did you like best about this story?

    The many other factoids that touch on the story - WWII in Holland, girls schools, baseball, etc.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    the scenes with the kids


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    the $80 champion fits perfectly


    Any additional comments?

    read it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    R. Hoeler New Jersey 11-23-13
    R. Hoeler New Jersey 11-23-13 Member Since 2012

    copicus

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    "Inspiring Story"
    What made the experience of listening to The Eighty-Dollar Champion the most enjoyable?

    I was completely unfamiliar with "Snowman", I loved learning about this wonderful horse.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Eighty-Dollar Champion?

    My favorite moment is when the horse shows his former owner ...."Look ! I am so much more, I can do some much more than you ever could have guessed"


    Any additional comments?

    This was a great book to listen to when I was feeling a little discouraged about life. While listening, I went online to lookup everything about "Snowman" and to look for pictures. This would make a great movie, done by the right director. Loved it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cally 11-21-13
    Cally 11-21-13 Member Since 2012
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    "LOVED"
    If you could sum up The Eighty-Dollar Champion in three words, what would they be?

    This was an amazing story, I had it listened to in a day and wanted more. Then I looked up Harry Deleyer and Snowman on the internet to see if I could read more about their amazing journey.. Ok and I wanted to see pictures of Snowy and the flying Dutchman. I will recommend this book to any of my friends and more than likely read it again. It is very inspiring and heart warming.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christina 11-21-13
    Christina 11-21-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    14
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    "Uplifting and incredible"

    If you need a hero to believe in, here are two: A man and a horse. I spent the hours elated, heartbroken, then elated again. This pair won my heart.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dot Juneau, AK, United States 11-16-13
    Dot Juneau, AK, United States 11-16-13 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    20
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    "I expected more excitement"

    The storyline was OK but the book did not move fast enough to keep my attention. I know little about horses and thought I would enjoy learning more, but Istruggled through Part I and into Part 2 then I decided I would rather listen to something else.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Caroline 11-05-13
    Caroline 11-05-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    10
    4
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    "Equestrian Lovers - This is a must read!"
    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I listen in the car - I would get home and sit in the car to keep listening to this book.


    Any additional comments?

    Amazing story of will, guts, and love between a man and his horse. A must read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melissa Mebane, NC, United States 11-04-13
    Melissa Mebane, NC, United States 11-04-13 Member Since 2013
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    1
    1
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    Story
    "Slow to start but..."
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    Probabably an abridged edition would be much better


    Would you be willing to try another book from Elizabeth Letts? Why or why not?

    Sure -- after the book got going it was heartwarming


    What about Bronson Pinchot’s performance did you like?

    Accents were great!


    Did The Eighty-Dollar Champion inspire you to do anything?

    Not really


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    metalcaster Near Kalamazoo, MI 11-04-13
    metalcaster Near Kalamazoo, MI 11-04-13 Member Since 2011

    metalcaster

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    53
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    Story
    "Terrific Story"
    If you could sum up The Eighty-Dollar Champion in three words, what would they be?

    I had never heard of Snowman and found the story well told. I am a horse owner so maybe it struck home with me more than it might to someone that does not have horses.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Eighty-Dollar Champion?

    the first chapters were the most memorable for me, I don't want to spoil the story by letting details out


    Have you listened to any of Bronson Pinchot’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Mr Pinchot did a terrific job, I will be looking for more of his readings.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    my vision blurred several times during the story and there were times that I almost cheered out loud.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    R. J. Melton OKC 10-31-13
    R. J. Melton OKC 10-31-13 Member Since 2008

    I read too much, like most genre, & am picky about narrators. I like strong characters, great dialogue, & quirky bits!

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    "Winner! Winner!"
    Any additional comments?

    This horse story started just a bit slow, but by the second hour I was enthralled. I listened to the book in one marathon listen! This true story seems a metaphor for the American 'family and community spirit' rebuilding following the first World War. I thought the pacing was excellent. I was impressed with the work ethic of the Flying Dutchman and his jumper. I thought the ending was perfect. The reader was excellent, he never hit a sour note irritating me out of the story. The rich man, poor man thread was handled with dignity. Societal and Political details were sprinkled in without bias and bring a sense of credibility to an otherwise amazing story. Overall, I think this book about a horse is destined to become a classic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    N. Rogers San Antonio, TX, USA 10-23-13
    N. Rogers San Antonio, TX, USA 10-23-13 Member Since 2008
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    "Outstanding, Inspirational, and True Story!"

    The Eighty-Dollar Champion is a book for anyone who loves horses or enjoys a true story of improbable success in the face of tremendous odds. I spent my summers as a child on my grandparents’ pony farm and was simply wild about horses so I expected to enjoy this book. I wasn’t prepared to love it so much and recommend it to nearly everyone! (Except perhaps people who REALLY hate animals.) After completing the book I doubted its veracity and assumed that the author had selectively chosen and embellished her facts for effect. However, when I checked, I found that indeed most, if not all, of it actually happened as related. If this were a fiction book, it would be considered something of a fairy tale or fantasy, but as nonfiction, it appears to hold up.

    Harry do Leyer, who immigrated from Holland after World War II with is wife and a single suitcase of belongings, purchased a broken-down gray horse from a truck headed for the slaughter house. His children named the gelding Snowman and Harry cleaned him up, fed him well, and began using him to teach girls in a local private school to ride. Through a fluke observation, Harry discovered that Snowman could jump, and jump very well. He and the horse trained rigorously, and with the support of his family, they eventually achieved the highest honors of the Show Jumping World in 1958 and beyond.

    But that is not what makes this story such a memorable one. The greatness of Harry and Snowball is the unique bond that formed between this man and this horse: the nearly silent communication, complete trust, and intense loyalty that existed between them. In addition, I learned a great deal about horses, the sport of jumping, and the culture of the 1950s and ‘60s when this all happened. I was compelled to listen, even knowing the final outcome. I can only credit Elizabeth Letts and her excellent craftsmanship with bringing this story back to life in 2011. I’d give it 10 stars if I could. I understand that a documentary movie will be coming out in 2014. I can hardly wait!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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