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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

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  •  
    Jeannie 10-05-13
    Jeannie 10-05-13

    Jeannie

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Cheer Plow Horse Winning at Madison Square Garden!"
    What did you love best about The Eighty-Dollar Champion?

    Snowman is the unlikeliest of winning show jumpers and his story will make you cheer. From the truck headed to the slaughter house, to lesson horse for a girls' school, to a beloved family member carrying children bareback swimming....to a champion show jumper competing with the elite of the elite... The Eighty-Dollar Champion will not disappoint. I love that this is a true story and the reader is left with the knowledge that we all have that spark to be more than we seem to be.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chuck 06-22-13
    Chuck 06-22-13
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    "One of the Best Ever"

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The writing could have used some editing but the story more than made up for that. It's still hard to believe that this was a true story. Very much enjoyed the reading by Bronson Pinchot. Considering, however, that this is a book about the horse show world it is inexcusable that no one could help Mr. Pinchot correctly pronounce the names of Adolph Mogavero and Frank Chapot, two icons of the horse show world. That having been said this is a wonderful book and I highly recommend it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JLH Queen Creek, AZ United States 03-31-13
    JLH Queen Creek, AZ United States 03-31-13 Member Since 2011

    Arizona Reader

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    "wonderful story!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Eighty-Dollar Champion to be better than the print version?

    Haven't yet read the book, but the audio edition was fantastic.


    What other book might you compare The Eighty-Dollar Champion to and why?

    It is the same feel-good type of story as Marley & Me, only with a wonderful horse. I love horses, have ridden for years and the story line, the explanations of the training, showing and horse behaviors are spot on. I learned to ride on an old, ugly (but beautiful to me) old mare -- this story really brought back memories. The author did a wonderful job of bringing Snowman and his family to life.


    Which character – as performed by Bronson Pinchot – was your favorite?

    This reader was perfect for the story. Snowman was hands down my favorite character. As for people, after listening to this story, I would have loved to have met Harry in real life. He was the type of teacher anyone could have learned from.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Most of the show jumping scenes, I felt like I was right there with them.


    Any additional comments?

    Highly recommended book. I don't usually listen to the same book twice, but I certain will listen to this one again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebecca Brookhaven, MS, United States 03-04-13
    Rebecca Brookhaven, MS, United States 03-04-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Heartwarming, Uplifiting, Well-narrated"

    I'm a horse-person, so give me a story about a good horse and a human's devotion to him, and I'm going to love it. This book went one step further, however, by taking a horse sale reject recognized by a savy horseman who nurtured him into the champion he was in his heart. Not a new story, I know, but all the better because it is true and so well told.

    Another great feature of the book is the narration by Bronson Pinchot. I am a fan of his, but I kept hearing the voice and trying to place it. I was shocked to discover I had listened to the entire book before I knew who narrated! My point is that, while Mr. Pinchot's voice is very pleasing to listen to, he never puts himself in the way of the story. Well done!

    Buy it, listen to it, and I hope you'll find it as uplifiting as I do.

    Thanks for taking the time to read my review.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Toby 12-31-12
    Toby 12-31-12 Member Since 2013
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    "title fits the tale"

    I loved the Eighty-Dollar Champion, in spite of the writing! It truly is a fantastic tale with remarkable characters who embody persaverence-man and horse.As soon as I finished the book, I looked up photos and videos of this real life duo, bringing even more life to Lett's interpretation of their history. I found myself rooting for both Harry and his horse, Snowman, even though I knew their trials would end predictably well. The relationship between Harry and Snowman is unique and Letts allows their special bond to glow. The historical background takes up space in an informative and really interesting way also. My issue was with her writing, which is repetitive. Once she makes a statement, she finds the need to repeat it over 4 or 5 times-where was her editor? The story sailed stronger than her writing, however, and I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a good nonfiction narrative and yes, an inspiring story set in a historical perspective.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Blackwell Arizona 12-06-12
    J. Blackwell Arizona 12-06-12 Member Since 2014
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    "Loved this Book on so many levels"
    What did you love best about The Eighty-Dollar Champion?

    I loved this book on so many levels... The fact that it is a true story and tells about the main characters plight in coming to America and what he thought about the country and himself is something that everyone should read. This is more than just an average horse story.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I loved how the people never gave up and didn't let their circumstances stop them.


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

    I have not heard Bronson Pinchot before but thought he was wonderful.


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

    I have no idea.


    Any additional comments?

    I think this book would be good for kids, teenagers as well as adults

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lmaris Where the stars at night are big & bright 12-05-12
    Lmaris Where the stars at night are big & bright 12-05-12 Member Since 2011

    Lmaris

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    "Would have been perfect if only..."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    ...someone had told Bronson Pinchot that Frank Chapot's name is pronounced as it would be in French (shah-POH), not "CHAP-ott". Had it been just once, it would have been no big deal, but chapter after chapter it continued. Considering the Chapot's family's contributions to world class show jumping continues today, this mistake is huge and makes the story ring hollow to fans and participants of equestrian sports.

    Other than this major flaw, the book and the reading are enjoyable. I recommend it to anyone who has ever loved a horse and those unfamiliar with horses.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Coastal North Carolina 11-13-12
    Amazon Customer Coastal North Carolina 11-13-12
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    "A must-read for horse lovers."

    This book was a captivating and entertaining story of a truly remarkable horse and his owner/trainer and family. The author captured the essence of the horse and made him seem almost human. The horse's owner's life had been drastically changed by WWII and the German invasion in his country, and his story was also quite interesting. The author presented the world of the 1950s, including the elite, upper class "horsey set" and a snapshot of how American life was changing during that era. She also explained much about show jumping. My only complaint about her writing was that there were several annoying instances of repeating almost exact paragraphs. The first few times I thought my Kindle had malfunctioned and had somehow gone back a few chapters. The narration was good, although a few times the narrator over-emoted.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    christine Marlton, NJ, United States 11-12-12
    christine Marlton, NJ, United States 11-12-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Fantastic animal"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Eighty-Dollar Champion to be better than the print version?

    I loved this story. It was a heartwarming story about a great horse and his achievements.

    An ordinary horse who was extraordinary.

    Not a sad story. I normally don t like to read sad animal stories


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

    How he kept coming back from the fa he was sold to


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

    No


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Forgettable Woman 10-24-12
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    "Snowy becomes a part of your life"

    This is easily the best book I've read in years. This story is compelling, I came to love the characters, especially this wonderful horse, and Bronson Pinchot is a superb reader. His tone and the pace he sets allows the story to unfold in pictures in your mind, so listening to him read the story is very much like watching a movie unfold in your imagination. You can see the children trekking down to the beach and climbing on Snowy's bare back to ride him as he swims. You can see him calmly awaiting his turn to jump in the noisy, crowded arena. You can see the children lined up on him as he returns to the arena to collect his ribbon and hear the cheers of the audience.

    The book so became a part of me that I was unable to listen to another book for weeks afterward. I had to grieve that it was over before I could move on. Since it does not contain either sex or foul language, it's suitable for older children and teens as well as your church-going mother, especially if she likes horses. I highly recommend it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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