Top showjumping trainer dies of heart attack

  • Former international showjumper and coach Lionel Dunning died from a heart attack on Monday 30 December. He was 75.

    A popular trainer, Lionel had appeared in good health while teaching earlier in the day, according to British Showjumping.

    Lionel represented Great Britain on 25 Nations Cup teams and is still the only rider to have jumped 4 double clear rounds on a British-bred horse.

    In the 1970s he sustained serious head injuries in a fall that left him semi-conscious for 7 months. Despite being told that he would not be able to ride again he returned to become Britain’s leading rider.

    Lionel also suffered another blow to his career in 1984 when his sponsors decided that they wanted their horses to compete in the Olympics. He could not compete because he was a professional and at the time only amateurs were allowed to ride at the Games.

    He had started to rebuild a string of top horses when an out of control police car then collided with his lorry killing 4 horses.

    Undeterred, he returned to top again helping Britain win another Nations Cup on Spirit of Lee in 1985.

    He retired from competition in 1998 and became a successful trainer of riders throughout Europe and in the Middle East.

    He leaves his wife Pam, who also competed successfully at the highest level, and their son Robert.

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