Farewell to… a British showjumping stalwart

  • The well-known showjumping owner Michael Bullman (pictured) has died aged 72. He passed away last Tuesday (29 July) after suffering a heart attack.

    Michael was most famous for his 30-year partnership with Hungarian-born rider Joe Turi. The pair enjoyed much success with Michael’s horses, especially with the stallion Vital.

    Joe Turi and Vital at Hickstead.Joe and Vital (pictured right) rode on the British team at the Seoul Olympics and the pair also won the Hickstead Derby in 1990,  reversing the previous year’s placings by defeating Nick Skelton and Apollo.

    Michael’s horse Kruger was part of the winning British European Championship Team in Rotterdam 1989.

    He also produced horses himself, most famously Costello, who was sold to the U.S. based Leone brothers.

    Michael was former chairman of the British Showjumping international committee, retiring in 2003. He was also assistant team manager to Ronnie Massarella from 1986 to 2002 and led British teams after Ronnie retired. He was British chef d’equipe at the 2006 World Equestrian Games.

    When Joe returned to his native Hungary, Michael continued supporting him until Joe died in a motorbike accident in 2003.

    The owner then supported young British rider, Jamie Wingrave, who moved to Hungary to ride Michael’s horses and now has Hungarian nationality. In recent years Michael was team manager for the Hungarian team.

    “Michael’s huge contribution to the world is impossible to record in so few words. His commitment to those many causes which he chose to wholeheartedly support throughout his entire life are testament to the man who gave all he had, very often to his own detriment, so that others, be they man or beast, may have a chance to aspire,” said Jamie.

    “Michael’s presence will be missed around the world. A true British ambassador, his big heart, knowledge and bearing gave any one who came into contact with him guidance, assurance and hope with horses and in life.

    His death is an irreplaceable loss to the horse world, one of the dying breed of old-school gentleman, who was in his own words ‘a lover of horses first, and a horseman second’.”

    Michael is survived by his five brothers and one sister. His funeral arrangements will be confirmed in due course.

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