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Tim Stockdale has passed away

Wednesday, 14 November 2018
In memoriam

Tim Stockdale. Photo (c) Hervé Bonnaud / Tim Stockdale. Photo (c) Hervé Bonnaud /

Very sadly, British showjumper Tim Stockdale passed away peacefully today, aged 54, after a short illness. Stockdale had been diagnosed with stomach cancer, which he announced at the beginning of October. 

Stockdale was surrounded by his devoted wife, Laura and his two sons, Joseph and Mark. 

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.

Stockdale represented Great Britain in Nations Cups on over 50 occasions, competed at the 2002 World Equestrian Games, the 2008 Olympic Games as well as at the 2009 European Championships.

Our sincere condolences go out to Tim Stockdale’s family and friends, and all those close to him. The showjumping community has lost a great ambassador, horseman, personality and rider. 

Rest in peace Tim.


In memoriam: Tim Stockdale (1964-2018)

Although destined to become a world-class equestrian, Tim Stockdale regarded his early introduction to horse-riding with some disdain. It took place during one summer holiday when he, his twin brother and younger sister were packed off to a local riding school simply to get them out of the house and from under their mother’s feet. Tim’s initial reaction was that he didn’t much like the idea of riding because it hurt and furthermore, the ponies smelled. Despite such an inauspicious start, this reluctant young novice went on to forge an illustrious career.

Tim Stockdale represented Great Britain at more than 50 Nations Cup events, competed at World and European championships and was a member of Team GBR at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Two years later, he served as Chef d’Equipe for the winning Great Britain team at the Nations Cup in Abu Dhabi.

With an array of other top-class equestrian achievements to his credit, Tim regarded winning the coveted King George V Gold Cup at the 2010 Royal International Horse Show with Kalico Bay as the pinnacle of his career. It was the fulfilment of a life-time dream.

Timothy Mark Stockdale was born in 1964 along with his twin brother, Ivan, to Nancy and Geoffrey Stockdale. The two boys joined three older brothers at the family home in Retford, Nottinghamshire. A sixth sibling, their sister, came later.

While clearly intelligent and driven, Tim preferred practical subjects at school over the academic. He excelled at sport, especially football and cricket. His father’s business was construction and Tim inherited the family aptitude for building and repair. This flair kept him happily at the local riding school, but as an eight-year-old handyman rather than a rider. The only problem was that payment for Tim’s labour was in free riding lessons. His equestrian ‘Eureka’ moment came one evening when riding ponies out to pasture. Encouraged to canter, the boy was initially nervous, but then things changed: fear suddenly gave way to exhilaration. His future course was set.

Having acquired the family’s first ponies, Danny Boy, followed by Corky, Pony Club activities took priority, along with avid following of professional show jumping. Tim’s major inspirational moment came at the age of 12 when watching TV coverage of rider Mike Saywell and his horse Chainbridgewin the prestigious 1976 King George V Gold Cup.  

After leaving school, Tim took early shaky steps into the horse training and dealing trade. When he learned that his showjumping hero, Mike Saywell, had moved into the area, he rushed to his yard begging for a job. Sheer grit and determination led to success at the Saywell yard, resulting in Tim being recruited by Graham Fletcher as his second jockey. His tough equestrian apprenticeship continued with horse owner/breeder, John ‘Jet’ Taylor; and then with Mr and Mrs Meyerding.  

It was with the Meyerdings that Tim competed in his first international show in France on their horse, Supermarket.

Tim began to attract owners and he therefore struck out to set up his own yard in rented facilities in Chesham, Buckinghamshire.

Competing at Henley in autumn 1991, Tim came across a young lady helping to groom for another rider. She was Laura Cocklin, an enthusiastic horsewoman herself. They formed a romantic partnership, sharing life and work together at Chesham. 

With sporting success and booming business, the couple invested in an established yard needing renovation in Northamptonshire during 1996. They developed the place into a comfortable home and first-class showjumping yard. 

Tim’s success, his growing reputation and top-quality facilities brought in more owners and new sponsors.

Tim and Laura were married in November that year and went on to build a family. Their first son Joseph was born in 1999. The second, Mark, arrived five years later in 2004. Joseph is following in his father’s footsteps as an up and coming rider and is also a talented, county-level cricketer. Mark’s sporting prowess is in golf, with many junior trophies to his name. Both of them have been encouraged and inspired by a proud, devoted father.

It was in October 2011 that the family suffered a devastating experience. Trying out potential new horses in Wales, Tim was thrown and broke his neck, ending up virtually paralysed in Oswestry’s Robert Jones and Agnus Spinal Injuries Unit. It seemed that his riding days might be over. However, state-of-the-art medical care and Tim’s determination saw him back in the saddle after three months and competing again at top level soon after.

In 2012 Tim published his autobiography, It’s title ‘There’s no such word as can’t’ was his defining lifetime motto. As Graham Fletcher wrote in the book’s foreword: “……in the history of showjumping, it is only a small number who have had the ability, tenacity and willpower to keep achieving at the highest level. One of those is Tim Stockdale.”

As well as a star of the showjumping arena, Tim Stockdale was a dedicated ambassador for his sport. He served as chairman of the British Show Jumping Association marketing committee; was awarded the British Equestrian Federation Medal of Honour; became a Federation Equestre International (FEI) Gold Medal holder; and received an Honorary MSc degree from Nottingham Trent University. His skills as a showman and communicator made Tim a TV personality. He was the subject of the Channel 4 documentary, Cutting Edge and a trainer in the Faking It reality show. Tim promoted British showjumping by training celebrities for the BBC programme Only Fools on Horses in aid of Sport Relief. Until recently, he served as a commentator/pundit for Sky Sport’s show jumping coverage.

True to form, Tim was competing in the UK and continental Europe before he came too ill and was diagnosed with gastric cancer at the beginning of October this year.










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