Ireland today lost one of its legendary show jumping figures with the passing of Tommy Wade.

Aged 80, Tipperary-born Wade was famous for spectacular performances as a rider on the Irish team during the 1960s, and then went on to become one of the country’s most successful chefs d’equipe, piloting Ireland to over 30 Nations Cup victories, as well as presiding over the 2001 European Championships team triumph and Dermott Lennon’s individual World Championship gold medal at the World Equestrian Games the following year in Spain.

Tommy Wade pictured with the winning European Championship team at Arnhem in the Netherlands in 2001 – from left Kevin Babington, Peter Charles, Jessica Kürten and Dermott Lennon

Riding the diminutive “little” Dundrum, Wade racked up an unparalleled number of Grands Prix victories internationally, and at the 1963 Dublin Horse Show he won all five international classes and was a member of the winning Aga Khan team, a feat never since replicated.

Famous for his sometimes brusque manner, Wade nevertheless enjoyed unwavering loyalty from the teams which he managed, and it is a mark of the esteem in which he was held that the Irish show jumping team riders taking part in Sunday’s Nations Cup at La Baule in France have announced that they will wear black armbands during the competition as a demonstration of their respect.

Wade is survived by his wife Felicity, daughter Maria and sons Robert, Alan and Ronan.

-Jack Burns