After more than four decades at the top of the sport and at the age of 59, Nick Skelton has announced his retirement. Big Star, the stallion with whom he won two Olympic gold medals, will also be retired from the sport. An official farewell ceremony will be held for this legendary partnership at Royal Windsor Horse Show on Sunday 14 May.
“It has come to a point, after months of thought and consideration, that myself and my partner Big Star have decided to retire from competition,” said Nick.
“Although there are many people, including my family, Gary and Beverley Widdowson, and my team, that were looking forward to us carrying on this year, we feel that Big Star has done everything that a rider could ask and it is time for him to relax and enjoy his stallion duties.
“I have always stated that when Big Star finished I would too. This sport has given me more than I could ever have hoped over the past 43 years and it is such a difficult decision to make, but I’m not getting any younger and it is nice for the two of us to end on the highest note possible.”
Nick’s stellar career
Among his outstanding list of achievements, 59-year-old Nick has won 16 championship medals — two Olympic golds, five at world championships (one silver and four bronze) and nine European medals (three gold, three silver and three bronze) as well as the junior European title in 1975.
He’s bounced back from a broken neck suffered in a catastrophic fall in 2000 and still holds the British showjumping high jump record set in 1978. He won the Hickstead Derby three years on the trot and the World Cup final in 1995. His first Olympic gold medal came at the age of 54 and he completed the double in 2016 at the age of 58, making him the oldest British Olympic gold medallist since 1908.
Nick finished third behind Andy Murray in the 2016 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award and in the 2017 New Year Honours he was appointed a CBE for services to equestrianism. He also won Horse & Hound’s Lifetime Achievement Award in November 2016 (watch video below of Nick’s family and friends looking back on his outstanding career, plus Nick accepting his award) and won the title of best athlete of the year at the FEI awards in Tokyo.
As the the Olympic gold medal-winning duo Nick…
Big Star will not compete at Olympia or…
As well as the Widdowsons’ 14-year-old stallion, he has partnered an army of top class horses including Apollo, St James, Maybe, Hopes Are high, Carlo 273, Arko III and Dollar Girl.
“Thank you to all the incredible friends and fans for your support — we are truly appreciative and humbled,” said Nick. “Thank you to all of my owners and sponsors throughout my career — I couldn’t have done it without you. And lastly, thank you to all the horses I’ve ridden — you have provided me with opportunities I could never have imagined.”
Full details of Nick and Big Star’s retirement ceremony at Royal Windsor will be released shortly. Tickets can be purchased at www.rwhs.co.uk
Don’t miss our Nick Skelton commemorative issue, where we celebrate his 40-year-career in full, in 18 May issue of H&H magazine.