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Equestrian world pays tribute to legendary Australian showjumper

Tributes have been paid to legendary Australian showjumper Kevin Bacon, who died on Wednesday (11 March) aged 88.

Born in 1932 in Dungog, New South Wales, Kevin went on to become one of Australia’s greatest showjumpers.

He represented his country at three Olympic Games; Tokyo 1964 on Ocean Foam where the team finished seventh. He rode Chichester at the New Mexico 1968 Games, where the team finished ninth, and at Montreal 1976, at which they came equal ninth.

He also enjoyed global success; he was four-time champion at Madison Square Gardens, New York, and won grands prix in France and Canada.

In 2000 Kevin was awarded the Australian Sports Medal for his achievements.

Equestrian Australia (EA) led tributes to Kevin and said the equestrian community was “deeply saddened” to hear of his death.

“Kevin was a natural with horses,” said the tribute.

“Kevin’s manner of riding was often described as ‘determined’ rather than stylish. Indeed at first the American and European audiences laughed at his style but after big wins at the New York International Horse Show and Toronto Royal Winter Fair in 1968 that laughter changed to admiration.”

A spokesman for Hickstead, where Kevin was based during the 1980s and 90s, said he was “loved by all”.

“He was larger than life, his stories were legendary. Our thoughts go out to all his family and friends,” he said.

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Showjumper Geoff Billington said Kevin was “one of the best” as a horseman and a person, while fellow Australian Edwina Tops-Alexander said the equestrian community had lost one of Australia’s showjumping “legends”.

“I met Kevin many times throughout the last 15 years,” said Edwina. “Although I was not in his era of showjumping I learnt many tips from Kevin. One thing I will never forget is to always believe in yourself and your horse.

“He tried to teach me some his tricks that he used to teach his horses. So much horsemanship and feel for horses that I’ve never in my life seen. Thank you Kevin for all your tips and time that you gave me.”

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