It is with sadness that we learn of the passing of double European gold medallist Sheila Willcox.
Born in 1937, Sheila was a pioneer for women in the sport of eventing, winning multiple European medals and Badminton titles. Starting her career in The Pony Club, she went on to become the top female rider in British eventing, winning her first Badminton in 1957 after finishing in second place the previous year.
Riding High and Mighty, she was then selected for the 1957 European Championships where they won team and individual gold medals before returning to Badminton in 1958 to convincingly win the event again with a 47 penalty advantage.
Sheila returned to defend her Badminton title in 1959 with the young horse Airs and Graces – who had only competed in his first three day event just six months prior to Badminton – and to this day she is the only person to win three consecutive Badminton titles.
In the same year High and Mighty also added another team gold to her tally at the European Championships. During this time women were not allowed to compete in the Olympic Games so despite being one of the most decorated riders and accomplished horsewomen of the time she was denied an Olympic appearance.
She went on to coach Team Canada for the 1976 Montreal Games and 1975 Pan Am Games and wrote the first book about the sport, ‘Three Days Running’ in 1958, followed by the ‘The Event Horse’ in 1973.
Our thoughts are with her friends and family at this time.