Death of long-time US eventing supporter

Dick and Vita Thompson at the 2006 USEA Hall of Fame where their horse Biko was honored.
Dick and Vita Thompson at the 2006 USEA Hall of Fame where their horse Biko was honored. © US Eventing Association

Longtime US eventing supporter Richard H. Thompson died earlier this month at the age of 82.

The US Eventing Association said that Thompson, who died on June 5, served the sport and the USEA in many capacities and for many years. A former USEA board member, he was currently serving on the USEA Endowment Trust.

For the last three decades, Dick and his late wife Vita owned many of the horses that represented the US on international teams under Jim Wofford and Karen O’Connor, whose names are synonymous with such horses as Castlewellan and Biko. Recently he turned his attention to providing mounts for the future stars of eventing when he gave Hannah Sue Burnett the ride on St. Barths.

Thompson grew up in Berwyn, Pennsylvania, and after marrying Vita, whom he met at Beagle Trials in Aldie, Virginia, they joined the Radmor Hunt Club, and Thompson was a Founding Member and Chairman of the Radnor Three-Day Event. This developed into a passion for eventing which spanned more than five decades.

Most notable of their horses were: Mr. Maxwell, UpStage, Joker’s Wild, St. Barths, Regal Scot, and Castlewellan. Most significant of all was Biko: the 1996 Olympic Silver medalist, 2006 United States Eventing Association (USEA) Hall of Fame inductee and ‘Horse of the Century.’

Thompson received numerous awards and recognition for his dedication to equestrian sports. He received the prestigious United States Combined Training Association’s (USCTA) Governor’s Cup, which is not awarded annually, but bestowed on an individual who has made the greatest commitment and personal contribution to the sport.

Thompson served as an eventing competition volunteer at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, California, then became the Discipline Manager for eventing at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. He was also the Manager of the Competitions Communications Center at the 2010 Alltech World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky.

Thompson is survived by his two sons, Richard Jr. and James, three grandchildren, and his brother, Rodman Ellison Thompson.

• British Eventing has reported the death of former leading owner David Tolley, who was 70.

He died on May 14 following a cerebral aneurysm, at the John Radcliffe Hospital Oxford.

Tolley and his wife, Jane,  an international judge who has officiated at Badminton and Burghley, ran a successful Eventing yard at Kingston Lisle, producing both young horses and young jockeys.

Their best horses included Merillion and Hinegar, ridden by Matt Ryan and Andrew Nicholson, Five Boys (Kitty Boggis) and Sir Lancelot (Chris King and Polly Stockton). David and Jane had been living in Spain since 2005.

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