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War veteran and horseman Chris Coldrey dies, aged 90

Christopher Coldrey (6263359)
Christopher Coldrey (6263359)

The funeral of Korean War veteran and internationally respected horseman Chris Coldrey will take place at St Margaret’s Church, Chippenham, at noon on Friday, when fellow veterans will form a guard of honour.

Mr Coldrey’s Doberman dog and his last event horse, wearing the regimental colours of the 8th King’s Royal Irish Hussars will also form part of the cortege as family and friends gather to bid farewell to a man whose role in the equestrian world extended to 17 countries and numerous disciplines.

For 35 years, until the onset of vascular dementia about 10 years ago, Mr Coldrey and his wife Victoria ran the Herringswell Bloodstock Centre where they broke and pre-trained racehorses for leading trainers and owners including Sir Henry Cecil, Sir Mark Prescott and Lord Howard de Walden, with winners of the Derby, Melbourne Cup, French Oaks and Champion Stakes passing through their hands.

When Mrs Coldrey retired in 2013, the centre closed and the couple moved to Chippenham.

Mr Coldrey sang in the choir at the village church and took great pride in his membership of the Ely and District Branch of the British Korean Veterans Association. He died on December 9, aged 90, after a short stay in West Suffolk Hospital.

Born in Cornwall, Mr Coldrey was educated at Sherbourne before going up to King’s College, Cambridge, as a choral scholar to read history.

He joined the 8th King’s Royal Irish Hussars straight from college and was almost immediately ordered to Korea where war had broken out in July 1950.

Captain Coldrey completed 12 years in the Army, augmenting his military duties with membership of the British Army showjumping team and other equestrian activities.

He subsequently settled in Rhodesia, later Zimbabwe, where he farmed tobacco as well as competing in showjumping events at the highest level as a member of the Rhodesian national team.

His burgeoning career as a course designer continued after he relocated to South Africa where he also edited the South African Horseman, read the news for the South African Broadcasting Corporation and commentated on shows.

After meeting his wife Victoria in Johannesburg in 1971, the couple returned to the UK, settling in Lancashire where he founded and designed Arena North which hosted among other big events, the Grand National show jumping.

Among other strings to his bow,Mr Coldrey was equestrian correspondent for The Times, a director of the British Horse Society and an expert witness for The Law Society on equestrian matters.

He leaves sons Charles and Mark, daughter Kate, seven grandchildren and six great grandchildren.