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Portrait: Harry Meade, Second Generation Eventing Medalist

Photography Copyright Jonathan Hutchins

Harry Meade stands among the world's top-ranked eventing riders at present, having been part of the sport's elite for many years. Despite this, one might feel that he hasn't quite lived up to the early career expectations placed upon him. We will explore his commendable career achievements so far and delve into some reasons behind these high expectations.

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The Meade Legacy

The surname Meade carries significant weight in British eventing. Richard Meade, Harry’s father, was the most successful British equestrian Olympian, along with securing a total of 10 medals at the European and World Championships. From 1964 to 1982, he was almost a constant presence in British teams, which dominated major international competitions for much of the time. The 1972 Munich Olympics marked a career highlight, where he clinched gold in both team and individual events. He was also named the BBC Welsh Sports Personality of the Year. After retiring from competitive riding, he continued to influence the sport, holding senior positions within both British and international equestrian federations and the British eventing body. He passed away in 2015 at the age of 76, having witnessed many of his son Harry's career milestones.

Harry Meade's Early Years

Born in 1983, a year after his father's last major international medal win, growing up in the Meade family meant a life filled with horses and riding. Despite minimal formal riding instruction, Harry became an experienced rider at a young age. His talent for the sport began to emerge as a junior rider, leading to a spot on the British team for the European Championships. While at university, he started working for successful rider William Fox-Pitt, and it was during this time that he began riding and competing with the gelding Midnight Dazzler, marking his emergence as a top-level senior rider. For three consecutive years, alongside Midnight Dazzler, Meade was the highest-placed rider under the age of 25 at the Burghley Horse Trials, one of eventing's major competitions.

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Continued Success and Challenges

After Midnight Dazzler, Meade's success continued, especially with Wild Lone. However, his career seemed in jeopardy following a severe injury from a fall in August 2013. This accident led to a six-month hiatus from the sport, after which he made a remarkably quick return to his pre-injury level of competition. Just months after returning to the saddle, Meade and Wild Lone secured third place at the prestigious Badminton Horse Trials. Their strong performance continued, and in August 2014, nearly a year after the fall that threatened his career, they competed in the World Championships. Although they did not complete the individual event, they were part of the British team that won silver medals.

A Bright Future

The 2014 World Championships mark the first and so far only time Harry Meade has represented Great Britain at a major senior-level tournament. However, this has not indicated a decline in Meade's career, as he currently ranks fifth on the FEI's list of eventing riders. With only three or four pairs allowed on a team, and currently seven of the top ten ranked riders eligible for team selection, timing and the right horse are crucial for representation. At 40, Harry Meade is not in the spring of his career, but if he chooses, he still has ample time to achieve new career heights in his sport.

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BBC: BBC Sports Personality of the Year: 60 years of Welsh competition - BBC News
Harry Meade's Website: Harry Meade Official Website
FEI database: Welcome to FEI Database


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