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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.

Critic Reviews

“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 Ratings

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  • 4.6 out of 5.0
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  • eddie
  • Saint Helens, OR, United States
  • 01-18-12

When will this story become a movie

Even if you know nothing about horse jumping you will enjoy this book. Elizabeth Letts pays a lot of attention to details and lets the reader feel they are part of the story. She gives the background and nuance so we can appreciate the struggles and triumphs of a champion. I would have like to know this horse, what a wonderful story.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

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Heartful, inspiring, WONDERFUL book!

This is a story for all animal lovers and all Americans. It is the story of the underdog - the American 'rags to riches' dream, all told in an eloquent, inspiring tone. The narrator wasn't the greatest, but he improved throughout the story and there was nothing irritating about his style. Unlike other reviewers, I loved the American history lesson that went along with horse story. It added depth and meaning to the story. Even if you don't care for horses, or don't know much about them, this story will make you a horse lover, or at the very least develop compassion for animals. It will inspire you to be a better person. As an avid, this is in the top five books I have read in the last 2 years!

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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I am a sucker for happy horse stories

I grew up riding horses and show jumping. The author did a wonderful job of capturing all things true of the sport, while also telling a heartwarming, non fiction story of a horse and rider who beat the odds. The story is so amazing it is almost unbelievable! I also appreciated the extra historical information interspersed throughout the book that was secondary to the main story. The narrator did a fantastic job. I highly recommend this refreshing listen to those that love animals and the underdog.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Janet
  • Doniphan, MO, United States
  • 09-01-11

A Real life heartwarming story !!!

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

The American Dream

What did you like best about this story?

I loved that Harry was a hard worker, didn't let anything stop him and he treated his horses with love and respect. He wasn't in it just for the money and he didn't ask others to do anything that he wouldn't do himself.

What does Bronson Pinchot bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I thought he did a good job narrating and he didn't do imitating voices that cause me annoyance and to lose track of the story.

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

This book brought me warm feelings and was uplifting even though it was real life.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 01-06-12

A horse to love

This is a great true story. I hesitate at times to read an animal story as they so often are tear jerkers, but not this one. The way Elizabeth Letts wrote the story it is up beat and shows that man or horse can achieve if he works hard and has some luck. Bronson Pinchot did a good job narrating the story. I got a bit frustrated a few time with some repetition that the editor should have caught. I am a big fan of horses so I read all the non-fiction stories about them I can find. Young girls into horses and show jumping will love this book.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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I really liked this book.

I've always been a sucker for horses. And this story had all the usual plot points of a typical Disney movie: the underdog on his last leg, the rescue, the slow unfolding of talent, the perseverance in the face of ridicule, and the ultimate victory. That makes it sound cliched and dull, but I didn't find it so. To me it was amazing and heartwarming. I Googled "Snowman horse" and found actual video of Snowman going clear back to the early 1960s.

I truly wish that they would make a movie of this, but I realize that making a movie about a horse that can jump incredibly high obstacles is a lot more difficult than making a movie about a horse that can run fast. A movie racehorse doesn't really have to run all that fast to fool us, but it would be a lot harder to fake a horse jumping a seven-foot fence. Sigh.

Bronson Pinchot is my new favorite narrator for audio books. I love the sound of his voice and his way of reading.

I don't know that Everyone will love this book, but if you have ever loved horses or horse books (Black Stallion), or if you have ever loved other animal-story books, then I think you will probably like this one. It is a great entry into the genre.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Enjoyable Listen!

What did you love best about The Eighty-Dollar Champion?

That it was a true story. I didn't realize this until the end, wish I had know at the begining of the book would have made a difference to me.

Would you recommend The Eighty-Dollar Champion to your friends? Why or why not?

Have already recommended to my

What does Bronson Pinchot bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I think hearing it makes you get a better mental picture of what is going on, he's a good reader.

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

yes but I want share, may ruin it for others.

Any additional comments?

At times it got a little long, too much details on bits and such that most horse people already know but it still kept my interest all the way through and it was a long book.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Great story

Where does The Eighty-Dollar Champion rank among all the audiobooks you???ve listened to so far?

One of the best . You always know its a great one when you can,t wait to listen

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

Lonesome dove. I love horses and westerns

What does Bronson Pinchot bring to the story that you wouldn???t experience if you just read the book?

He tells the story well and easy to listen to

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

The horse running home to him

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr.
  • Panama City, FL, United States
  • 09-18-11

The underdog wins and deserves to, relax and enjoy

This is a good book to curl up and read anytime. I like these kind of books to unwind and relax after a hard day or perhaps a more serious prior read. Snowman does not disappoint. Snowman is a loving and patient servant and friend to all. Harry is a faithful and caring owner who lives the American dream. There are a few twists to liven things up and overall this is a five star feel-good book.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Nancy
  • LA GRANDE, OR, United States
  • 01-10-12

Great Story, Well Narrated

This was a entertaining and heart-felt true story that came to life through the excellent narration by Bronson Pinchot. His style never detracts from the drama. Horse lovers will greatly enjoy this story.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful