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Anneli Drummond-Hay – Obituary (4/8/1937 – 31/7/2022)

 

It is with great sadness that British Eventing learn of the passing of Anneli Drummond-Hay, at the age of 84, after a short illness.

An inspiration to many, Anneli was a trail-blazing woman in equestrianism who turned her hand with incredible success across eventing, dressage and showjumping.  Shortlisted for the Olympic Games across all three disciplines she was the ultimate professional who was still riding competitively up until three years ago.

Having learnt to ride on polo ponies, Anneli started competing at a very young age with her 12.2hh pony Spider. Competing at her first European championships at the age of 17 years she went on to produce numerous horses to great success. One of them included Trident with whom she took 3rd  at Badminton in 1958 having finished 6th two years previously.

The horse that became synonymous with Anneli was Merely-A-Monarch with whom she rode to a win at both Badminton and Burghley in 1962 when he was just a 6 year-old.  It is hard to imagine now, but it wasn’t until 1964 that women were allowed to compete at the Olympic Games in Eventing and it is for this reason that Anneli decided to switch disciplines to jumping for whom, in 1952, the gender rule had been relaxed. Within two months after her Badminton victory, Anneli  was competing at the Royal International Horse Show with great success and making her presence felt within the showjumping arena.

With the inclusion of women on Eventing teams in time for the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, Anneli found herself shortlisted for all three disciplines.  She was also shortlisted for the 1968 Olympics in Mexico before having to rescind her dreams of competing on the Olympic stage when she became the first equestrian to secure a major sponsorship deal which resulted in her being seen as a professional and therefore ineligible.

A ground-breaking pioneer for women in sport Anneli was an incredible horsewoman who inspired many by her refusal to be held back in achieving what she set her mind to. The only ever rider to be shortlisted across all three disciplines she was the consummate horsewoman.  Representing Great Britain on Nations Cup Teams and a winning European Championship team over a period of 14 years she also continued to event with her following up on her win of the first ever Burghley Horse Trials by taking 2nd a remarkable five times after that.

Helen West, Chief Executive for British Eventing said “Anneli set the path for all of us, as female riders, to follow. She was a woman who showed the world that women should be included and compete on equal terms with their male counterparts and it is hard to believe there was ever gender inequality when you consider that we are one of the very few sports today where men and women compete on equal terms.   We all owe so much to Anneli and her legacy lives on with the number of women she will have inspired over the decades to not only ride but to never give up on their dream.  On behalf of myself, the British Eventing Board and our entire membership I would like to express our heartfelt condolences to Anneli’s husband Trevor Bern, their family and friends whom she has left behind.”

 

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