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One of the legends of Irish Showjumping, Colonel Billy Ringrose, has died at the age of 89.
Col Ringrose was one of the country’s most successful riders during the 1950s and 1960s, before going on to become Chef d’Équipe of the Aga Khan team.
In 1961, the then Captain Billy Ringrose and Loch an Easpaig won the Grand Prix in Nice and the Grand Prix in Rome within the space of a month. He competed at two Olympic Games (Stockholm 1956 with Liffey Valley & Rome 1960 with Loch an Easpaig), claimed six individual international showjumping Grand Prix and seven Nations Cup team events.
The Dublin rider was a member of the first mixed Army-civilian Irish team to win the Aga Khan Cup in 1963 along with Diana Conolly-Carew, Séamus Hayes and Tommy Wade.
Billy Ringrose is the only rider to have won the Grand Prix event at all four shows on the American tour: Washington DC, Harrisburg Pennsylvania, Madison Square Garden in New York and the Toronto Winter Fair.
Ringrose later became Commanding Officer of the Army Equitation School at McKee Barracks in Dublin and Chef d’Équipe of the Irish team. Following victory for the Irish team of Paul Darragh, James Kernan, Eddie Macken and Captain Con Power in 1977 when managed by Seán Daly, Billy Ringrose took charge in 1978 and helped complete their famous three-in-a-row of Aga Khan wins in 1979.
When he later became President of the RDS (1998-2001), he had the honour of presenting the Aga Khan trophy to the winning Irish Chef d’Équipe, having previously won it himself both as a rider and as Irish Chef d’Équipe.
In 2017, Ringrose’s son Fergal published a 280-page memoir of his father’s life and equestrian career, ‘Billy Ringrose – A memoir of my Father’.
Horse Sport Ireland CEO Ronan Murphy paid tribute to a showjumping legend, stating:
“On behalf of everyone at Horse Sport Ireland, I want to pass on our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Col Billy Ringrose, who was one of the greats of Irish Show Jumping. His career as a rider and later as Chef d’Equipe was outstanding and he gained the respect of everyone he met not just for his sporting excellence but as a true gentleman.”