One of Ireland’s most successful show jumping riders of the 50s and 60s, and Chef d’Équipe of the famous Aga Khan team the year they completed three-in-a-row in 1979, Col Billy Ringrose has died in Dublin, aged 89.
Within the space of one month in 1961, the army rider won the Grand Prix in Nice, presented by Princess Grace, and then the Grand Prix in Rome, presented by Queen Elizabeth II, who was at the time on a State visit to Italy.
In his riding career, Ringrose won six individual international show jumping grand prix and seven Nations Cup team events – including being part of the first mixed army-civilian Irish team to win the Aga Khan Cup in 1963 along with Diana Conolly-Carew, Seamus Hayes, and Tommy Wade.
Later Ringrose became Commanding Officer of the Army Equitation School at the McKee Barracks in Dublin. He took over as Chef d’Équipe of the Irish team of Paul Darragh, James Kernan, Eddie Macken, and Captain Con Power in 1978.
Along with winning the Aga Khan trophy as a rider and Chef d’Équipe, Ringrose later presented the trophy to the winning Irish team in his role as President of the RDS. He’’s also the only rider to have won the grand prix event at all four shows on the American tour; Washington DC, Harrisburg, Madison Square Garden, and the Toronto Winter Fair.
“On behalf of everyone at Horse Sport Ireland, I want to pass on our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Col Billy Ringrose, who was one of the greats of Irish show jumping,” said CEO Ronan Murphy.
“His career as a rider and later as Chef d’Équipe was outstanding and he gained the respect of everyone he met not just for his sporting excellence but as a true gentleman.”
In 2017, Ringrose’s son Fergal published a 280-page memoir of his father’s life and equestrian career, ‘Billy Ringrose – A memoir of my Father’, including nearly 80 images taking the reader back in time to his days as a rider on the international circuit.
Ringrose’s Dublin Nations Cup successes came on the very same RDS turf that his grand-nephew Garry Ringrose has now become a star with Leinster Rugby.