Harry Meade, who has endured injury and tragedy over the past two years, is winner of the British Equestrian Writers’ Association leading rider award for 2014.
The eventer, who is based near Bath, made a stunning comeback from career-threatening elbow injuries sustained in a fall 16 months ago. He was negotiating the cross-country phase of an event in Somerset when he was thrown from his horse, putting his palms out to break the fall. Unfortunately his elbows buckled under the impact; the injuries were the worst a British sportsmen has ever managed to recover from.
For two months he couldn’t use his arms at all; he slept with them suspended in slings – not ideal for someone who makes a living from riding and also has a young daughter, Lily.
Doctors warned him that his arms could be permanently paralysed but through sheer determination he began to recover, even managing to deliver his second child, a son Charlie, who decided to arrive rather quickly in January.
Meade finished third at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials in May, then gained selection for Great Britain’s silver medal-winning team at the World Equestrian Games in Normandy, where he rode a brilliant cross-country clear round on his beloved top event horse Wild Lone, only for disaster to strike again. Wild Loan collapsed at the finish and died.
The 31-year-old bravely faced the waiting media, paying an emotionally-charged tribute to Wild Lone, who was bought for £10,000 and was known as Alf by all at Meade’s yard.
Meade was presented with the BEWA Trophy by BEWA chairman Andrew Baldock at the Association’s annual lunch and awards ceremony in central London yesterday.
Dressage wonderhorse Valegro was again voted horse of the year after adding world title glory to the Olympic and European crowns already held with British star Charlotte Dujardin, while 21-year-old showjumper Spencer Roe received the Worshipful Company of Saddlers award of a new saddle.
The Liz Dudden Trophy, meanwhile, for an outstanding contribution to equestrian sport went to Daily Telegraph equestrian correspondent Pippa Cuckson