Farewell to one of the greatest equestrians: Anneli Drummond-Hay dies aged 84

  • One of the sport’s greatest all-round legends, Anneli Drummond-Hay, has died at the age of 84 after a short illness.

    The Badminton and Burghley winner, who also won the Hickstead Derby and a European Championship in showjumping, and was shortlisted for the Olympics in all three disciplines, was a consummate horsewoman, who was still jumping competitively three years ago, and only stopped riding recently.

    Born in 1937, Anneli learned to ride on polo ponies and started her competitive career on a 12.2hh pony called Spider.

    She competed at her first European Championships aged 17, and went on to produce dozens of horses. These included Trident, with whom she came sixth at Badminton 1956, then she came third at Badminton in 1958.

    At about this time, her famous ride Merely-A-Monarch came into her life, for £300. Aged six, he won the first Burghley, by a record margin, then the following Badminton, in 1962.

    As she had won the world’s two greatest horse trials, and as women could not ride at the Olympics at that time, Anneli turned to showjumping, riding at the Royal International Horse Show two months after Badminton.

    By the 1964 Olympics, women were allowed to compete there, and Anneli and Merely-A-Monarch were shortlisted in all three disciplines. The horse was sold and Anneli was to keep the ride but the situation changed.

    Four years later, they were shortlisted but overlooked for Marion Mould and Stroller, and by 1972, the fact she had become the first rider to secure a major sponsorship deal scuppered her dream of the Games.

    She went on to break the British high jump record with Sporting Ford, then emigrated to South Africa in 1971. She went on to enjoy a superb career in her second home country, including winning two South African Derbies and being crowned South African sportswoman of the year eight times.

    She died on 31 July, with her husband Trevor Bern at her side.

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