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Last Updated: Monday, 21 August 2006, 11:10 GMT 12:10 UK
NI rider is killed during event
Portadown equestrian rider Sherelle Duke
Sherelle Duke was killed when her horse toppled on top of her
One of Northern Ireland's leading equestrian riders has been killed in a cross-country event.

Sherelle Duke, who was 28 and from Portadown, died when her horse toppled on her at Brockenhurst Park, near Southampton, on Sunday.

She is a former World Young Rider Champion.

Sherelle's sister Sonia said the family's faith was helping them cope with the tragedy, but said her sister was irreplaceable.

"It's just the small things that come into your mind, it's not a major thing, you know we all live the major things that happen in our life, it's the small things that happen in our lives that you remember the most.

"I don't think they'll replace her, not the dedication she gives to the sport - trying to lift it you know to a new level," Sonia said.

'Super fit'

Equestrian journalist Ruth Loney, who knew Ms Duke, said she was a "super fit athlete", who was "bubbly but totally focused".

"This tragic accident has cast a real cloud over the equestrian world and everyone who knew her," Ms Loney said.

She said that the cross-country section of three-day eventing was a dangerous sport.

"It is solid timber fences, so when a horse hits them it comes down straight away and the rider doesn't have as much chance to be thrown clear.

"Whereas in national hunt racing when a jockey is thrown they're going at speed over smaller fences and the jockey will be thrown clear," she said.

She said two other Irish riders had been killed in similar circumstances in recent years.

Sherelle Duke's family are well known in the Portadown area and in the business world after setting-up the Dukes Transport Company.

For years Sherelle rode in the company's colours of red and white.

Ms Duke was a member of the Irish team in the 2003 European Championships.

Rider killed at equestrian event
18 Apr 06 |  South West Wales

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