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Equestrian correspondent Alan Smith dies aged 89

  • Alan Smith, the former Telegraph equestrian correspondent of 48 years has died, aged 89.

    Mr Smith covered equestrian championships from 1961 to 2008, starting with the junior European Showjumping Championships at Hickstead in 1961, and including 10 Olympics. He also covered eight winter Olympics as the Telegraph’s skiing correspondent.

    Known for his kindness and profound knowledge of equestrian sport, Mr Smith claimed to have “fallen into journalism”. Having turned down a place at Reading University owing to his father’s ill health, someone in the family “had to make a living” and he joined the Brenards Air News agency, based at Heathrow.

    He went on to work on pedigrees for the British Bloodstock Agency and, following this, was taken on by the Telegraph racing desk. When the deputy sports editor asked Mr Smith if he would like to cover “a bit of showjumping”, he never looked back. But his love of racing never left him and he continued to have shares in racehorses until his death.

    He was also on numerous committees including the FEI showjumping World Cup committee from its launch in 1978 to 1998, and had a lasting friendship with Prince Philip, who was FEI president from 1964 to 1986.

    “Having covered equestrian sport for nearly 50 years, he became the much-admired and respected doyen of his profession,” said an FEI spokesman.

    FEI secretary general Sabrina Ibáñez added that Mr Smith was “one of the living legends of equestrian journalism and the sport as a whole”.

    “He has sadly passed away after covering some of showjumping and eventing’s greatest moments. On behalf of the FEI, I am honoured to pay tribute to such a remarkable newspaperman, who knew everything there was to know about the sport and more,” she said.

    “He was admired for his infallible work ethic and was a true legend across press offices worldwide. My thoughts at this sad time are with Mr Smith’s family and friends and the British equestrian community. He will be very much missed.”

    He was married to Maddy, who predeceased him in 2016. The couple had three children, Alex, John and Charlotte.

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