For many years, it was not evident that Joseph "Joe" Stockdale would become a professional rider. As the son of professional showjumper Tim Stockdale, Joe had been riding his entire life and enjoyed success as a youth rider. However, cricket took priority alongside his schooling, and he was part of the Northamptonshire County Cricket Club, who competes at the highest level in English cricket.
Despite the busy schedule with school and cricket, Joe managed to find time for occasional showjumping competitions, showcasing his talent in the equestrian sport. In 2018, at the age of 18, after finishing school, Joe had more time to accompany his father to competitions. His impressive results led to his qualification for the historic and prestigious Horse of the Year show scheduled for October that year. Shortly before the event, Tim Stockdale was diagnosed with cancer, leading Joe to participate with both his own horse, Romeo, and his father's horse, Don Diego De Plata. With Don Diego De Plata, Joe participated in the "Five Fence Challenge," where the jump height increases round after round. He ended up on a shared first place, starting the show on a high note. With Romeo, Joe reached the decisive main competition, securing an impressive ninth-place finish, despite being a relatively inexperienced pair.
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Just a few weeks after the Horse of the Year show, Tim Stockdale passed away at the age of 54, leaving Joe and his mother with the responsibility of the family's business and horses. His plan had been to go to Australia, where a cricket team had offered him a spot, but a knee injury prevented this opportunity. As the injury did not affect him while riding, Joe decided to fully commit to his equestrian career.
Following the Horse of the Year show and his decision to become a full-time rider, Stockdale's talent really began to shine. In less than a year, the 19-year-old Joe and Don Diego De Plata performed well enough to represent Great Britain at the European Championships for young riders. They were the second-best pair on the British team, which finished in seventh place. In 2021, following a quiet year for most major competitions due to cancellations, Joe Stockdale established himself as part of his nation's elite in showjumping. Leading up to the Riesenbeck European Championships, Equine America Cacharel, also known as Cash, had become Joe's preferred competition horse and the pair was selected to compete for the senior national team. The European Championships did not yield the desired results for Stockdale or the British team, finishing 43rd individually and 9th as a team. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that the outcome was remarkable, as Stockdale was the youngest competitor in the event.
The following year, Stockdale participated in two more major international competitions: the World Championships in Herning and the Nations Cup final in Barcelona. While the World Championships did not bring individual success for Stockdale, who finished 78th, the competition still stands as the highlight of his sporting career as he was part of the British team that secured a bronze medal. A month and a half after the World Championships, he represented Great Britain again at the aforementioned Nations Cup final, where he and Cash, along with the British team, finished in fifth place.
Although Joe Stockdale is yet to win gold at a major competition, his career so far has been impressive. At the age of 23, he has already participated in several of the world's biggest showjumping events. In a sport where competing well into one's 50s is not uncommon, he hopefully has many years ahead to reach his full potential. While he has received some special sporting opportunities through his father, achieving what Joe Stockdale has accomplished in his relatively short time as a full-time rider still demands significant talent. Time will tell if he has what it takes to reach the absolute top in the equestrian world.