Top jockey Rachael Blackmore has become the ambassador for a charity created in the memory of a young girl and exceptionally talented young equestrian who died in an accident a year ago.
Tiggy (Allegra) Hancock (15), a champion equestrian rider, died on June 16th last year at Greenogue Equestrian Centre, Rathcoole, Co Dublin while at team training for a European eventing championship.
The teenager from Co Carlow was one of three daughters to Frank and Jane Hancock, both originally from England but who have lived in Ireland for several years.
The youngest daughter of the close-knit family, Tiggy was a talented rider. When aged 13, she was a member of the Irish bronze medal winning team at the European Eventing Championships for Ponies.
Three weeks following Tiggy's death, her sisters created the charity TiggysTrust.com. Cheltenham racecourse was turned yellow, Tiggy’s favourite colour, for the trust fund’s official launch last December. Yellow ribbons have become a symbol of the charity after people wore them in memory of Tiggy following her death.
The English Grand National and Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Blackmore said: “Tiggy was an amazing, incredible, inspirational person who saw the best in people regardless of their background. Tiggy’s Trust is going to help young people fulfil their potential and hopefully we’ll see more of them riding big winners in Cheltenham.”
On the first anniversary of her death, Tiggy's family said: “We can’t believe a whole year has passed since we lost our dearest ray of sunshine. Thank you to everyone – we have received the most beautiful messages and memories of Tiggy.
“A special thank you to everyone who has helped us through these months – to all those with yellow ribbons we see in so many places but especially to those who have put so much hard work into establishing Tiggy's Trust. A legacy that she would be proud of.
“We have shed tears and we have laughed – and we have watched Tiggy’s young friends achieve so much with pride.”
A young rider development programme has been set up by the Trust which is offering the opportunity to under-16s who have never travelled before so that their ponies may experience and learn from international competition.
The Trust will organise and fund the programme. Leading international coaches will provide training for eventing and mounted games. In addition, there will be educational modules for personal development, first aid, horse welfare and team building.
The riders will also receive help and advice on preparing themselves and their ponies for international travel.
Tiggy's mother, Jane, said: “We have been swept along by the momentum of everyone’s support for us both here and abroad since Tiggy passed away. She really was a live wire and this really must be what people remember. We didn’t go looking for it but people just wanted to help and so they began raising money.
“We’ve never asked for money but the public overwhelmingly wanted a trust fund set up in her name. People seem to have so much trust in us to carry on her legacy and we want to thank everyone so much.”
Tiggy’s Trust will use the funds to assist young people, by offering mental health support through recognised organisations, and also providing training and education to help aspiring equestrians achieve their goals.
A proportion of the funds raised on the day will also go to the Injured Jockeys Fund and the Pony Racing Authority, two organisations close to her family’s heart and ethos.