Tributes paid as ‘inspirational’ Olympic dressage rider dies aged 67

  • New Zealand Olympic dressage rider Julie Brougham has died from cancer, aged 67.

    Julie became New Zealand’s oldest Olympic rider when she competed at the Rio Games in 2016 with her German-bred gelding Vom Feinstein, whom she bought in 2009. The pair, who were only New Zealand’s third dressage combination to compete at an Olympics, finished 44th individually.

    In February 2018 Julie and “Steiny” claimed the grand prix title at the New Zealand national dressage championships and the following month won the grand prix at the New Zealand Horse of the Year Show. In May that year Julie had a hip replacement following a fall from a pupil’s horse, but four months later she and Steiny were New Zealand’s sole dressage combination at the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon, USA. They scored 68.991% in the grand prix for 36th place.

    The combination’s many other achievements included winning the FEI World Dressage Challenge in 2011, taking the New Zealand Horse of the Year Show grand prix freestyle and grand prix special titles with national record-breaking scores in 2015, and winning the freestyle title again the following year, setting an Australasian record at the time with 76.3%. The pair also enjoyed a top 10 placing at the Aachen CDI4* in 2016.

    Following WEG, Julie was diagnosed with abdominal cancer and underwent chemotherapy and several operations. In September 2019 she made a winning return to competition with Steiny at the Dressage Central Districts championship show. Steiny was retired from competition after winning a grand prix and grand prix special with Julie at a national show in 2021.

    “Julie has been many things to many people within our sport – a fellow athlete, a friend, judge and an inspiration in everything she strived for and achieved,” said a spokesman for Equestrian Sports New Zealand (ESNZ).

    “Her passion for all things dressage and the vast knowledge she generously shared with others will be a continuing legacy for riders who dream to follow and emulate the new standards she and Steiny set for New Zealand. ESNZ and the wider equestrian family share their condolences with Julie’s immediate family, David [her husband], Nicholas and Katrina [Julie’s children].”

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