Ann Martin: an appreciation

By Alan Smith
Ann Martin, who has died, aged 73, in hospital after a long and courageous battle against illness, was one of Britain’s leading equestrian journalists for five decades.

She wrote, among others, for the Birmingham Post, the London Evening Standard for nearly 30 years, Horse & Hound and The Field, as well as four books, and was a long-standing member of the British Equestrian Writers’ Association.

Yet as well as writing about sport, Ann Martin also excelled at sport herself, winning a world title. In the 1950s, she was an enthusiastic and successful archer, helping the British team win a gold medal at the world championships in Helsinki in 1955, in addition to numerous domestic honours.

But horses were her long-lasting love, and she had a lifelong involvement in breeding – an interest in which she was joined by Francis Wigley, a top dental surgeon whom she married in 1956 – producing many winners among her mares and youngstock.

Journalistically she covered Olympic Games and championships around the world, with her Evening Standard deadlines often conflicting with the eating and drinking habits of her morning paper colleagues. I especially remember her having to shout her copy over the noise of a very good dinner the rest of us were enjoying during the Los Angeles Games in 1984.

Her efforts were much appreciated by riders and officials alike, as evidenced by a letter from Princess Haya of Jordan, the President of the FEI, the International Equestrian Federation, following Ann’s death. Princess Haya wrote:

“I am very anxious that her death should not go unmarked either by myself personally or by the FEI. Ann was a singular journalist and a great character, whose depth of knowledge of horsesport, encyclopaedic knowledge of breeding and understanding of the way both riders and owners think made her articles hugely informative both to the public and the professionals involved in the sport.

“Ann was a very kind soul and aside from her professional skill she is also a friend whom I am sure we will all miss.”

We will indeed.