British equestrian commentator Michael Edward George Tucker died the morning of March 28. He was 73.
Tucker began his journey with horses by riding at the top level of eventing for 20 years. His riding career included a second-placed finish at the Badminton Horse Trials (England) aboard his homebred General Bugle in 1983. When he retired from the saddle, Tucker pursued a new line of work as a course designer, event organizer and Fédération Equestre Internationale offiical.
He would go on to design two European Championships, the 2002 World Equestrian Games (Spain), the Burghley CCI**** (England), the Bromont CCI*** (Canada), and all over the world. Tucker was the original course designer at Fair Hill—ultimately designing the course for 10 years.
But he will be remembered most for his commentary during major equestrian events.
Tucker joined the BBC as a commentator in 1977. He lent his voice to countless competitions and attended six Olympic Games with the BBC. He was able to fulfill his dream of calling a British gold medal several times over when the British team secured gold in team dressage, show jumping and individual dressage in 2012 in London. His last Olympics culminated with Nick Skelton’s long-awaited individual gold in show jumping in Rio in 2016.
“That was absolute magic, and I have been privileged to enjoy many other pieces of magic,” Tucker told the BBC in 2017.
“I don’t think there’s any part of eventing that wasn’t touched by his influence, not just as a commentator but as a competitor, an organizer and a supporter,” said James C. Wofford. “We were lifelong friends. I met him in Badminton in 1968. Mike was a ton of fun; he had a wonderful sense of humor and a great worldview about horses and eventing. His list of achievements and appointments was as long as your arm. He was just one of those people who would see a problem and immediately start figuring out an answer to start improving the situation.”
Tucker was also the chairman of the organizing committee of the London International Horse Show and had been the commentator at Olympia for the past 30 years.
“This is a great shock and sadness for all of those involved at Olympia,” said Simon Brooks-Ward, the show director. “Mike was a friend, provided wise counsel, and was professional to the last. He never ducked an issue that he thought needed raising and solving. Mike had huge integrity and was respected by all that had the privilege to know him. Furthermore, he was great company and had an immense sense of fun about him. He will be sorely missed by all of us.”
Tucker also had a passion for farming and ran Cotswold Wagyu alongside his son, Andrew. He was also a field master for the Duke of Beaufort’s hounds.
Tucker announced his retirement after the 2017 Badminton Horse Trials. Since news of his death became public, his many friends and fans have taken to social media to pay tribute.
Fellow commentator Steven Wilde posted on Twitter, “It is with great sadness that I have learnt this morning of the sudden passing [of] my mentor and great friend Mike Tucker. For so many years the voice of BBC equestrian sport. Forever a guiding light and a steady hand to help us next generation.”
“We were absolutely devastated to receive the news of Mike Tucker’s death today,” said William Fox-Pitt on his Facebook page. “Both Alice and I have been hugely supported and influenced by Mike throughout our respective careers, in his role as a selector, and as course designer at [the Burghley CCI**** (England)] he shaped my career. The Equestrian world has lost a giant.”
Olympian Andrew Hoy also posted on his Facebook page, “We have lost a very dear friend—the world of Equestrian sports has lost its voice. You will always live in our hearts and your voice will forever be in our ears. Rest In Peace, Mike.”
He is survived by his wife Angela, his son Andrew, his daughter Emma, and his grandchildren.