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Olympic showjumper David Boston Barker dies aged 79

  • Olympic showjumper David Boston Barker died on 3 June aged 79, following a short illness.

    Born at his grandparents’ home in Northallerton in 1943, Mr Barker was the second of four children. He grew up sharing Shetland ponies Isabel and Rosie with his siblings and would hack with his younger brother William through Thornton Le Moor.

    Mr Barker went to boarding school in Harrogate and continued to ride throughout his teenage years. In 1957 he competed at the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS), where three years later he took the leading showjumper of the year title aged 17. He went on to have a number of HOYS wins, including sharing the puissance title on Lucky Sam with Irishman Seamus Hayes on Goodbye.

    In the 1960s Mr Barker rode on Nations Cup teams, and in 1964 was selected for the British showjumping team at the Tokyo Olympics with North Riding, alongside David Broome, Peter Robeson and his brother William Barker as travelling reserve. The team was fourth.

    Mr Barker met fellow showjumper Lynne Smith in 1967, and the pair married on 18 December the following year. They had four children, Ian, Victoria, Phillip and Paul, all of whom competed in showjumping. Ian rode at the junior Europeans, and Paul continues to enjoy a successful career on the British circuit.

    At Mr Barker’s funeral, his friend Geoff Billington delivered his eulogy and described him as a “devoted grandad”.

    “David kept busy in his later years walking around the farm, checking all the stock, including horses, ponies, cows, pigs; often accompanied by the beloved Jack Russell Max,” he said.

    “He loved following the racing, mainly National Hunt, and took great interest in the jockeys that started life on the showjumping scene such as James Revely and Harry Skelton. He also admired the girls like Rachael Blackmore, who compete on equal terms as the men, as always has been the case in showjumping.”

    Mr Barker is survived by Lynne, his children, and his 12 grandchildren.

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