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Horsewoman and coach Vera Holden dies aged 94

  • The much-loved horsewoman and trainer Vera Holden died on 13 August, aged 94.

    Ms Holden came from an equestrian family and was one of four sisters. She hunted as a small child and showed talent around horses from a young age. Her equestrian career began at showing producer Dick Pritchard’s yard at the edge of the South Downs. She showed her successful hack, The Flower, and also regularly competed with Mr Pritchard in the hack pairs, winning at Harringay, White City and Royal Windsor.

    She later joined Captain Eddie Goldman at his renowned training centre, Cotton Hall, in Ms Holden’s home town, Holmes Chapel, Cheshire. While there, she launched a successful showjumping career and produced the horses Fiaker and Aria, and Goldpoint, who was later sold to Harvey Smith.

    Following Captain Goldman’s death, Ms Holden carried on the traditions and classical training systems she had learnt from him – and as a trainer will always be remembered for. She was respected for her knowledge across the disciplines and was known to be strict, as “the only way was the right way”. She insisted on no shortcuts and always giving the horse time, and she gave pupils a system that they could fall back on in times of failure. Many top-class riders spent time training at Cotton Hall, including Angela Tucker, Sheila Willcox and Lorna Sutherland, to name a few.

    She left Cotton Hall, but continued to teach and often travelled to deliver clinics. She remained teaching into her eighties.

    Showing producer Majorie Ramsay, a close friend of Ms Holden, described her as a “wonderful person”, who was respected and loved across the equestrian industry.

    Ms Holden is survived by her niece Louise Hamlin.

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