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Friends have paid tribute to “genuine and lovely” top international groom Karen Hughes, who died on 16 May following a long battle with cancer.

She dedicated her life to grooming and was well respected on the eventing circuit.

Ms Hughes worked at countless Olympics, World Equestrian Games and European Championships for some of the world’s top riders, including Harry Meade, Clark Montgomery and Andrew and Bettina Hoy.

“What I would say about Karen is that she was one of the best grooms on the event circuit, always willing to give advice and help to anyone that asked for it,” said close friend Sharon Mepham.

“Her dedication to the horses in her care was second to none. A genuine and lovely person, she will be sadly missed.”

In 2015, Ms Hughes was presented with the British Grooms Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award at Burghley Horse Trials.

“I am very sad to hear about Karen losing her brave fight against the cancer,” said Andrew Hoy.

“She was my head girl for 14 years and we have had many wonderful experiences together where she has been a huge contributor to my success.

“We have been to three Olympics together — Karen lived her life for her beloved horses and our sport, which meant everything to her.

Karen will live on in the thoughts and memories of many people within the eventing world. Rest in peace, Karen.”

Many others have also paid their respects.

Clarke Montgomery said eventing will “never be the same”.

You gave your heart, soul and life to the sport and to your horses. You’ll always live on in our hearts,” he said.


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In a tribute on her Facebook page, Bettina said she still benefits from Ms Hughes’ “vast knowledge”.

I owe her the biggest part of my successes with Watermill Stream, Unsung Hero, Woodsides Ashby and above all Ringwood Cockatoo,” she said.

I appreciated very much all she did for me and still benefit from her vast knowledge.”