Paddy McMahon was one of the leading show jumpers of the 1970s. He was the1973 European Champion and was nearly unbeatable on his horse Penwood Forge Mill(Forgie). He won the European Championship at Hickstead and in the same year won the King George V Gold Cup and the Horse and Hound Cup at the Royal International Horse Show. He was ATV Sportsman of 1973 and runner up to Jackie Stewart as the BBC Sports Personality of 1973. He competed in the 1980 World Cup Final in Baltimore, USA.
Many people assume because of his name that he is Irish. However he was born in Derby on the 5th December 1933 and grew up in Chaddesden. He was the eldest of six boys and grew up on Wollaton Road. There was no history of horse riding in the family and his route to the top was unusual.
He attended St Marys’ Roman Catholic School in Derby and came to an arrangement with Cliff, a fellow pupil to have rides on his ponies. Later he palled up with another school friend, Billy Mulholland, whose father was a scrap metal dealer. He was allowed to ride on horses that were pulling scrap carts during the week. This was bareback riding with a driving bridle!
Paddy started jumping hedges and ditches, Tommy Mulholland recognised his natural talent as a show jumper and so story began. His first outing was at Wollaton Park and it wasn’t long until he was taking part in B.S.J.A. Affiliated Shows.
When the time came to leave school at 14, rather than taking a regular job, he went to ride for Tommy Mulholland until at 18 he was called up for National Service in the Catering Corps at Aldershot. Fortunately he obtained a transfer to the King’s troop and took part in many ceremonial duties, including being part of the Queen’s escort on Coronation Day. After his two year’s National Service he returned to work for Tommy Mulholland. In 1956 he married Joyce and moved to Mickleover, finally leaving Derby in 1962.
He was often seen riding on the fields between Morley Road and Copes Way in the late 40s and early 50s. His parents were very proud of his achievements and their house was filled with photographs of his achievements.
Paddy published his autobiography “Winning Ways” in 1980, which provided much of the above information. Thanks to Fred Moss who remembered seeing Paddy riding in Chaddesden, which started this project .