Irish showjumping scene in shock after young rider’s death

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Showjumper Jack Dodd has died at age 25 following a car accident in Belgium. 
Showjumper Jack Dodd has died at age 25 following a car accident in Belgium. © Bertram Allen

Ireland’s equestrian scene is in shock after the death of a young showjumper in Europe.

Jack Dodd, 25, died in a hospital in The Netherlands as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident in Belgium last week.

From County Mayo, Dodd died on Wednesday at University Hospital in Maastricht surrounded by his parents David and Trish and his family. He had been in an induced coma following the single car collision seven days before near Weert in Belgium.

Dodd was a talented young showjumper who represented Ireland from Youth level up to Senior Level. In 2014, he was a member of the Irish Young Rider Team at the FEI European Championships in Arezzo, Italy. He previously worked with top riders Shane Breen, Cameron Hanley and Cian O’Connor. In 2016, Jack Dodd won a place in the hugely prestigious International Young Riders Academy – a program dedicated to young talented showjumpers.

In 2017, Dodd attended the FEI Sports Forum in Lausanne, Switzerland, where he spoke passionately about how important the FEI Nations Cup series is in helping Young Riders make the breakthrough into the top level.

Jack Dodd.
Jack Dodd. © Fabio Petroni/Young Riders Academy

He was based for a period at Bertram Allen’s yard in Germany and after spending several years learning from top riders in yards all across the world, set up his own base in Balen, Belgium earlier this year. From his new base, Dodd was hugely successful in Young Horse competitions and also in high-level international classes throughout Europe. He was destined for a career at the top level of the sport.

Allen said Dodd was “an absolute gentleman and the most polite person I think I’ve ever met.”

“We were lucky enough to have worked together I think we learned a lot from each other. We spent hours making plans and plotting schemes on how we could win or be better. You only had one vision, to be the best – whether it was business or the sport,” Allen said.

Horse Sport Ireland CEO Ronan Murphy offered condolences to Jack’s family and the friends he made at home and when representing Ireland around the world.

“Jack Dodd was an extremely talented and hard-working young man and was much-loved by all who met him. This is apparent in the many tributes being paid to Jack since the tragic news of his passing reached us on Wednesday. Our thoughts are with Jack’s family and friends at this very difficult time.”

Irish Show Jumping Development Team Manager Michael Blake said he was devastated at the tragic news.

“I have known Jack most of his life and admired the mantra which he applied to his work, ‘success is the reward for effort’. Jack was on the Young Rider European Team in Arezzo in 2014. I remember thinking then how focused and professional he was, while still maintaining a genuine niceness.

“When Jack left Coolcronan Equestrian Centre in Foxford, Mayo, he was single-minded on the journey he was going to make. He knew, that to be the best, he must learn from the best and spent time in many top yards,” Blake said.

“Jack, we will miss you terribly, you were truly one of life’s great guys.”

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