‘We knew she was special’: why Joe Stockdale is keeping father Tim’s dream alive with world championship selection

  • At the age of 21, Joe Stockdale is the youngest of the four showjumpers picked to represent Great Britain at next week’s world championships, alongside Ben Maher, Scott Brash and Harry Charles, with John Whitaker as reserve.

    The young rider’s worthy selection to the global stage was earned thanks to a string of world class performances this year with his top mare Equine America Cacharel (Cachas x Quinar Z). The pair posted consistently solid rounds for Team GB in the Nations Cups of Falsterbo, Rome and St Gallen, with a double clear in Rotterdam.

    “It’s amazing to be selected,” says Joe. “It was a goal at the start of the year, but obviously you never know how things are going to go and it takes a lot to get the results to earn a spot on the team. So I definitely felt like I needed to get those results to justify my place.

    “So I had it on my mind as a goal, but equally I was never really expecting it – I just hoped that if I followed the path and did certain things, I’d have a good chance. So to actually be going and to be on the four is incredible.”

    Joe made his senior championship debut at last year’s Europeans and says that whole season was “a massive learning curve” for “Cash” as she is known at home, as well as himself.

    “We always knew she was a good mare and had the capability of doing it, but we just lacked a bit in experience last year and that showed in a couple of spots when we got to that level,” he explains.

    “But I’ve learned from that, she’s learned from that, and she’s a different horse again this year – she’s really stepped up,” adds Joe, who has benefited from the guidance of William and Pippa Funnell along the way.

    Joe Stockdale: ‘Equine America Cacharel has a fantastic brain’

    Joe’s selection for this year’s world showjumping championships, which begin in Herning, Denmark, on Wednesday 10th August, is the culmination of a poignant journey for the Stockdale family with the 11-year-old mare, who is co-owned by Joe’s mother Laura and Joy Cocklin. Joe’s late father Tim Stockdale bought the mare as a three-year-old after spotting her potential loose jumping.

    “Dad saw her at auction and really liked her so we bought her there,” says Joe Stockdale. “We always knew she was going to be something special as a young horse, although she didn’t necessarily have a lot of hype around her – we could just tell. Not only has she got a load of scope and she’s really careful, but the way she learns things and figures things out has been the main thing – that really shows she has a fantastic brain.”

    Joe was actually the first person to sit on Cash, helping to break her in when he was teenager.

    “We broke her in ourselves, did everything with her, then Dad rode her until she was seven or eight, although we never did a lot of young horse classes or anything with her – we just did one seven-year-old class [in Deauville], right at the end of her seven-year-old year,” explains Joe. “That was the first international show she went to and the first time people started to see her, but before that we just worked away at home and national shows, nothing really spectacular.

    “She’s always been lovely to ride, although she went through a stage when she was about five or six when she was a bit cheeky, like they always do, but she always did it in a nice way.”

    But this quiet education and preparation has really paid off for the long-term.

    “She’s a big mare so she took a long time to grow into herself but she’s always been a special one to us,” says Joe. “In the stable she’s lovely, very friendly and very spoilt! I used to go in her stable and sit in her manger and make a fuss of her when she was a baby. So I’ve been on that journey all the way.”

    Looking ahead to flying the British flag at the world showjumping championships, Joe Stockdale says: “To be on the team with Harry, with the experience of Ben and Scott, who have done so much already, and to have John there as well, is amazing.

    “Hopefully they can guide me through it and show me how it’s done. If I can go to the world championships, have some good results, and do my best for the team, that’s the goal. We should have a good shout I think.”

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