Top British showjumper Tim Stockdale has died following a short illness.
The 54-year-old was diagnosed with stomach cancer in October and passed away peacefully at Cynthia Spencer Hospice in Northampton today (Wednesday, 14 November).
He was surrounded by his wife, Laura, and sons, Joseph and Mark.
Tim made his international debut in 1988 and had ridden for Britain at more than 50 Nations Cups and on three senior championship teams.
His first senior championship appearance came at the 2002 World Equestrian Games aboard Fresh Direct Parcival.
He went on to compete at the 2008 Beijing Olympics with the grey mare Fresh Direct Corlato, where the combination finished best of the Brits in 16th. The following year, the pair jumped in front of a home crowd at the 2009 Windsor Europeans.
Tim’s glittering career features many major wins, including the 2002 grand prix at Horse of the Year Show on Fresh Direct Parcival and 2007 Royal Windsor grand prix with Fresh Direct Corlato — as well as victories and numerous placings in other classes at both shows.
He fulfilled a life-long dream by winning the prestigious King George V Gold Cup at Hickstead riding Fresh Direct Kalico Bay in 2010 (pictured, top), which he regarded as the pinnacle of his career.
He made a remarkable comeback after fracturing three vertebrae in his neck in a fall 2011, recovering to compete again at the top level.
Tim was still competing and winning on the international circuit in September this year, prior to his diagnosis.
He started riding aged seven and his first pony was a 12.2hh skewbald named Danny Boy.
Tim progressed up through the Pony Club as a member of the Grove Hunt branch and started his professional career working for Mike Saywell, moving to the position of second jockey to Graham Fletcher.
He then worked and trained under John Naylor and with Susan and Lutz Meyerding.
Tim met his wife Laura while competing at Henley in 1991. They invested in a Northamptonship yard in 1996, which they developed into a first-class showjumping yard and their home. Tim and Laura were married and went on have their first son Joseph in 1999, followed by Mark in 2004.
Tim Stockdale wins the Longines King George V Gold Cup at the Royal International Horse Show riding Fresh Direct Kalico
The showjumper was thrown from a young horse he had gone to try in Wales
British showjumper Tim Stockdale has made his first appearance on the international circuit after breaking his neck in a fall
As well as his exceptional riding career, Tim was also a highly respected trainer and figure within the sport.
He served as chef d’equipe for the winning British team at the Abu Dhabi leg of the Nations Cup in 2010, chaired the British Showjumping marketing committee from 2004 to 2007, and was the rider representative on British Showjumping’s international committee for more than a decade.
He was one of British showjumping’s best known figures — both to those within and outside the equestrian world.
In 1995, he featured in a TV show on showjumping, giving insight into the sport. Six years later, he starred on the television show Faking It, training a dancer to showjump in a month, and also helped raise money for Sports Relief through the BBC show Only Fools On Horses, which involved teaching celebrities to jump.
Nottingham Trent University awarded Tim an honorary degree for services to equestrianism and in April 2010 he was presented with the British Equestrian Federation’s medal of honour at the British Open Showjumping Championships in recognition of outstanding services to equestrian sport.
A private funeral for family and close friends is to be held in Northamptonshire. A memorial event to celebrate his life and achievements will take place at a later date.
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