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17 October 2014

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Three Day Eventing

Ian Stark

Ian Stark with Glenburnie


Born in Galashiels in 1954, Ian Stark had no family background in equestrianism and worked as a clerk in the Department of Health & Social Security whilst becoming one of the leading stars in the sport.

He won four Olympic silver medals; firstly in 1984 in Los Angeles where he was part of the Great Britain team that finished second in the three day event. Then four years later in Seoul he added two more silver medals to his haul, in the show jumping competition and in the three day event. Thoughts of retiring after failing to win a medal in the Atlanta games in 1996 were dispelled and he gained yet another silver medal in the 2000 Sydney games, again in the team show jumping event, whilst competing in his fifth and last Olympics.

There were disappointments along the way and in both 1992 and 1996 he looked well placed to finish amongst the honours before having to retire in the 1992 Games in Barcelona when his horse went lame and then four years later in Atlanta a fall in the cross-country section proved costly as the team missed out on a medal. Even so, at the end of the year he was still in fifth place in the World rankings

Away from the Olympics, Stark was constantly amongst the medals, winning gold as part of the British team that won the World title in Gawler, Australia, in 1986, whilst riding Oxford Blue. That same year there was an “alternative” World Championships staged in in Bialy Bor, Poland, for competitors who did not wish to have their horses undertake the lengthy journey to Australia in which Stark finished third in the individual section.

He again picked up silver medals in the 1990 World Championships in Stockholm, finishing as runner up in both team and individual events whilst partnering “Murphy Himself”. However, he did win the ultimate prize in the European Championships winning two gold medals in Punchestown, Ireland, in 1991. Partnered by “Glenburnie” he achieved success in both the individual and team events. He went on to win two more golds in the team events of 1997 and 1999 In 1997, when the event was staged at Burghley, England, he rode Arakai; two years later, in Luhmuhlen, Germany, he was partnered by “Jaybee”

Ian is also a three times winner of the Badminton Horse Trials. He won his first two titles in 1986 and 1988 riding “Sir Wattie” and then claimed a third success in 1999 in partnership with “JayBee”. His 1988 success was even more notable as he not only won the event, but also, on his other horse “Glenburnie,” finished second! He is the only person to achieve this feat.

He was awarded an MBE for his services to equestrianism in 1989 after his Olympic successes in Seoul, but in 2001 he was honoured again, this time with an OBE.

Ian Stark with Sir Wattie


He also gained an outstanding reputation as a coach, with the British Horse Society awarding him an Honorary Fellowship, the highest accolade it can award, in recognition of his outstanding coaching contributions to the equine industry and in 2003 he was appointed to the British team selection committee before he was appointed as coach to the Brazilian Olympic Three Day Event Team in 2004.

Still based in the Scottish Borders, Ian continues to be very much involved in the tuition and coaching of budding talent and travels widely lecturing and giving talks on the equestrian scene.

Written by: Dave Low


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