H&H reports the passing of individuals who have made a significant contribution to the horse world. Funerals and memorial details will be included where possible.
Jean-Margaret (JM) Cunningham
A dedicated eventing supporter, Mrs Cunningham died in January aged 81.
Mrs Cunningham owned many top horses over the last 30 years.
Despite a 16-year battle with inoperable cancer, involving 129 rounds of chemotherapy, her illness never interfered with her ability to follow her horses.
She owned horses for Mark Todd, Leslie Law, Andrew Nicholson, Sarah Kellard and Katie Parker among others.
Mrs Cunningham could often be spotted at events watching her horses from her green Range Rover, with a silver horse adorning the bonnet, and was also known for her legendary picnics.
Her eventers included Warren Gorse, who finished second under Mark Todd at the 1998 young horse championships in Le Lion, Fulham Fair, Super Sloane and a share in four-star campaigner Hello Henry.
She ran the dressage stewarding at several events, including Longleat and Nunney, and was also awarded the Cubitt Award for her help with the Wyle Balley branch of the Pony Club.
A memorial service will take place on 15 February at 3pm at St Andrew’s Church in Mells, Wiltshire.
The racing world is mourning the death of Mr Woollacott, who died on 23 January aged 40.
Mr Woollacott had saddled 60 winners since receiving his licence in 2008, including the Grade Two bumper at Aintree with Lalor and the Grade Two Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury with Beer Goggles.
He was also a very successful point-to-point rider, taking the Devon & Cornwall championship nine times and the national title in 2010.
British Horseracing Authority chief executive Nick Rust said the organisation is doing all it can to support Mr Woollacott’s family.
“It is simply tragic to lose someone so young, and who had so much to offer both the racing world and, more importantly, his young family,” said Mr Rust.
“Our thoughts and condolences are with his family, friends and indeed all the horses who Richard cared for in his all-too-short time as a trainer, and who will no doubt miss him greatly.”
Mr Woollacott’s funeral will take place at 2pm on 11 February at the church of St Mary the Virgin in Bishops Nympton, Devon.
Benjamin Frank (Bay) Lane
A pioneering showjumper, Mr Lane died on 29 January aged 89.
A slip of the tongue resulted in his nickname — when he was born, Mr Lane’s father announced “it’s a bay!”, which stuck.
When he was young his father would often lift him on to the backs of plough horses. He became more involved in his father’s farming and dealing business as he grew up. His riding career also blossomed as he progressed from gymkhanas to international showjumping.
Mr Lane was a member of the first British Nations Cup team to travel abroad following World War II, competing in Nice in 1948.
His top horse, Trueman, was found on a trip to Dublin Horse Show in the 1950s.
The combination won speed classes at the Horse of the Year Show in three consecutive years from 1959 to 1961.
He was also a familiar figure on the West Warwickshire hunting field and had a passion for racing and point-to-pointing. A true horseman until his death, Mr Lane continued to buy and ride youngsters until the age of 83.
His funeral is to take place at St James’ Church, Alveston, Warks, on 12 February.
An expert horseman, Mr Davenport died on 24 January aged 73.
He was showjumping and hunting before he was 10, and went on to enjoy a successful racing career.
He became champion amateur in 1964, riding 192 winners that season and finishing fourth in the Grand National aboard the 66-1 shot Eternal. After turning professional, one of his greatest victories was with Surcharge in the 1968 Topham Chase at Aintree.
Mr Davenport set up a training yard at Mobberley, Cheshire, before establishing a successful breeding programme.
Among the top horses he bred were international showjumpers Jordan II, One Man, Newton Nickel and Zoe II.
The Cheltenham Festival-winning trainer died on 2 February aged 71.
Mr Jefferson’s first success at the Festival came in 1994 with Tindari in the Hurdle Final. The following year he became the first British trainer to win the Champion Bumper, with Dato Star.
In 2012 he saddled a double of winners at the Festival, Cape Tribulation and Attaglance.
“His experienced and guiding hand has benefited not only the horses and staff in his care, but the racing community in Malton and the north for many years,” said BHA chief executive Nick Rust.
One of Ireland’s best-known hunting figures, Mr Higgens died on 28 January aged 76.
Master of the Tipperary for 18 seasons, he bred a first-class pack of modern foxhounds.
He started his career with the late Captain Charlie Barclay of the Puckeridge in Britain, before venturing to the Findon Harriers in Victoria, Australia. He decided Ireland was more suited to him and moved to north Wexford in the late 1960s to serve as kennel-huntsman at the Island. In 1970 he was appointed master of the East Galway, moving to the Tipperary as master and huntsman in 1973.
Mr Higgens was a successful breeder of foxhounds; the Tipperary hounds won many classes in Britain and at Peterborough. He was also a respected hound judge on both sides of the Irish Sea.
He later hunted the Avondhu for a season in the 1990s and helped breed the Golden Vale hounds, moving on to the Kilmoganny in 1993, where he served for six seasons.
After retiring in 1999, he continued to hunt and this year rode with the Tipperary to mark his 50th season in Ireland.
A Dedicated dressage judge, owner and supporter of the sport, Mrs Powell died in January at the age of 84.
A chance meeting with Isobel Wessells at a judges’ course in Cornwall led to a great partnership. Mrs Powell expressed an interest in buying a horse with Isobel, which resulted in her co-owning Isobel’s grand prix horse Chagall.
She was an active member of the British Dressage Supporters Club and frequently judged at shows in Cornwall and Devon.
Multiple Grade One-winning trainer Mr Casey died on 27 January aged 82.
The Irishman enjoyed three Grade One victories with Flemenstar. The first of these came at Leopardstown in January 2012. His stable star went on to win the Powers Gold Cup at Fairyhouse that April, before taking the John Durkan Chase at Punchestown in December 2013.
His funeral was held on 31 January in Balscadden.
A former British youth team selector and list one dressage judge, Mrs Webber died this month aged 88.
Mrs Webber (pictured, above right) gave much support to the British Horse Society (BHS) in all aspects of horsemanship, including as an examiner, and gained her BHS Fellowship in 1964.
She received the BHS award of merit in 1996 and the Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002.
Mrs Webber competed in eventing before switching to dressage, where she rode up to grand prix level.
She became a British Dressage (BD) list one judge and selector for the junior and young rider teams.
“She gave excellent advice and gained enormous respect from the young people who were guided by her honesty and her genuine enthusiasm for their successes,” said Jennie Loriston-Clarke.
“Helen was a trainer of judges and part of the team which set up today’s judging programme.
“Her knowledge, fairness and even more, her sense of humour will be sorely missed.”
BD interim judges director Peter Storr added: “Helen was a very nice, practical and down-to-earth person who always had time to explain and offer advice. She’ll be greatly missed.”
Wilhelm (Willi) Melliger
Double Olympic silver medallist Mr Melliger has died aged 64.
The Swiss showjumper (pictured, right) rode Calvaro V to individual silver at the 1996 Atlanta Games and the combination was also part of the silver medal-winning team at the 2000 Sydney Games.
The pair also enjoyed a run of success at two consecutive European Championships, winning individual bronze and team gold on home turf in 1995 and individual bronze in Germany two years later.
Bloodstick pioneer and eventing supporter Mrs Hambro died on 3 January aged 67.
She was the first bloodstock consignor in Britain, professionally preparing and showing horses at the sales, as well as a successful racehorse trainer, owner and breeder.
Among the horses Mrs Hambro bred was the 1989 Ebor winner Sapience.
A spokesman for British Eventing said Mrs Hambro was a “vital part” of its stewarding team from the 1990s onwards and also a “much valued” FEI steward.
The equestrian photographer has died aged 64.
Mrs Grossick ran the photographic company Grossick Photography with her husband John and she was a well-known figure at racecourses across Britain and Scotland.
The pair built the business up from scratch and covered all manner of equestrian events, specialising in racing.
Mrs Grossick was chosen as the Horserace Writers and Photographers Association photographer of the year in 2001.
The director of transport company Five Star Bloodstock died on 12 January aged 63.
Mr Lynch was a familiar figure in the British and Irish racing communities.
Trainer Gordon Elliott was among the many to pay tribute.
“He will be badly missed by all his family, friends and customers,” said Mr Elliott.
The former champion apprentice jockey died on 7 January aged 59.
Mr Crossley won the apprenticeship title in 1981 with 45 winners and rode more than 200 winners in his 18-year career.
His major victories included the Group 3 Fillies’ Mile aboard Nepula at Newmarket in 1993, the 1982 Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster and 1981 Old Newton Cup at Haydock.
Patricia Gillian (Jill) Thomson
The “selfless and inspirational” mother of Mary King died on 8 January aged 81.
Mary credited her mother, a well-known face at events, with making her own career as an event rider possible.
Although not horsey herself, Mrs Thomson (above) would always be seen supporting her daughter and granddaughter, Emily, at competitions. A week before Christmas, she passed a medical to allow her to continue driving the lorry for another year.
“She was an angel for so many people and I have been so lucky to have such an inspirational mummy,” said Mary.
“She told me to always smile — when I came out of the ring whether I had fallen off or won, she insisted that I always smile.”
When Mary’s children were young, her mother would care for them so Mary could ride. She would also drive the horsebox to and from events to give Mary time with her children.
She did not only dedicate her time to her own family, but many others who needed help.
She fostered 36 children over the years, was a verger at her local church, a Guiding volunteer and treasurer of the Axe Vale branch of the Pony Club. She also helped to care for older people in the community, taught bell-ringing, ran a community badminton club and a free playgroup.
A service of thanksgiving will take place on 25 January at 12pm at Salcombe Regis Church with a dress code of “colourful clothes and happy faces”.
A Long-serving friend to the equestrian world, Mr Bird died on 4 January aged 91.
Mr Bird, from Peterborough, served on the Burghley Horse Trials committee for more than 50 years.
Following six years in the army, he started working at Peterborough Agricultural Society.
He was appointed chief executive 20 years later when it became the East of England Agricultural Society.
He oversaw the development of the East of England Showground and also worked as secretary of the Royal Peterborough Hound Show and president of Ponies Association (UK).
He was appointed secretary of the Shire Horse Society and around 55 years ago he was tasked with “winding up” the company.
“He did quite the opposite,” said Victoria Clayton, current secretary.
“The society thrived under his tenure and without Mr Bird’s efforts the society is highly likely to not be in existence.”
She added that one of his most significant contributions was the introduction of the stallion premium scheme, which helps owners with the costs of keeping an animal entire.
“Mr Bird’s dedication to the Shire horse breed is an example to all,” added Ms Clayton.