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from cricketer to world championship medallist

  • Just four years ago, an 18-year-old Joe Stockdale was a talented young cricketer hoping to pursue a professional career in the sport he adored. But, speaking to H&H showjumping editor Jennifer Donald on episode 122 of The Horse & Hound Podcast, Joe confirms it was “the right decision” to have switched paths after the loss of his showjumping father Tim Stockdale to instead pursue an equestrian career in which he’s enjoyed a meteoric rise.

    “I’m very proud,” he says. “But I’m lucky to have supportive owners, so I appreciate them and my sponsors too – there’s a big team behind me making it all work.”

    Most recently Joe represented Great Britain at the World Showjumping Championships riding his “superstar” mare Equine America Cacharel and the pair came home with a team bronze medal.

    Joe describes standing on the championship podium in Denmark as “a strange experience”.

    “I didn’t know what to do!” he laughs. “Ben Maher and Scott Brash are used to being up on the podiums all the time – I think I just looked a bit gormless! But the whole thing was such a great learning curve – I’ve taken so much away from it.”

    Looking back at the moment he realised he’d won a medal, he recalls: “It was pretty surreal really – I was actually stood with Harry Charles out by the collecting rings, the timing system had gone down online and we’d been jumping, so we hadn’t been keeping track of all the scores and we were a bit unsure as to where we stood at that point.

    “But we’d done the maths and worked out that a couple of things needed to happen in order for us to get the medal, so it was touch and go, and we were waiting and watching. We’d actually gone off to get some food because we thought if we kept watching we’d jinx it and it would never happen!

    “Anyway a fence fell and that gave us the result we needed to put us ahead. It was such an up-and-down competition that you never felt safe where you were – you just didn’t know what was going to come next and a couple of rogue scores were coming even from the anchor riders.”

    Joe Stockdale: ‘Wearing the British flag is special’

    This week, Joe Stockdale is in Barcelona, Spain, representing Great Britain at the Longines FEI Nations Cup Final.

    “Every time you get to wear the British flag, it’s special,” says Joe. “It’s a real honour to be asked to be on the team. We’re a fairly young team but we’ve all got the results to back it up. I have a lot of faith in the guys. I love the Nations Cup series and again it’s been a great learning curve for me this year. It’s always a bit of added pressure though – all of a sudden you have three other guys relying on you!”

    Joe will again be riding 11-year-old Equine America Cacharel, who was picked out by his father Tim.

    “She’s a very special horse to all of us,” reveals Joe.

    Looking ahead, Joe pinpoints the King George V Gold Cup at Hickstead’s Royal International – a class Tim Stockdale regarded “as his greatest win”, says Joe – as one of the titles he’d most like to win, while the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris is also a target.

    “Obviously a lot can happen in that time, things can change, things can go wrong, but I have another year of experience now and so does Cacharel, so I’m hoping that with another year we can build on what we’ve got,” says Joe. “It’s a long-term goal, but it’s in my sights.”

    You can hear more from Joe Stockdale as he talks about the skills he’s learned from his senior team-mates Scott Brash and Ben Maher, his journey so far and why he’s relishing a return visit to Horse of the Year Show next week on episode 122 of The Horse & Hound Podcast – listen here or search “The Horse & Hound Podcast” in your favourite podcast app.

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