Bob Witham, a veteran horseman who broke horses for Shadwell Farm for more than two decades, died Dec. 17 at Palmetto Health Richland Hospital in Columbia, S.C. He was 65.
Witham started breaking yearlings for Shadwell in 1986, and has worked full-time for the farm since 1992. He died as a result of injuries sustained from a Dec. 12 spill off his pony at Camden Training Center.
“He had a set of babies in the polo field, and he was on a pony, and the pony stumbled and fell,” said Rick Nichols, Shadwell’s vice president and general manager. Witham worked with numerous successful Shadwell horses over the years, including 2006 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Jazil, and this year’s Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes (gr. I) winner Alwajeeha.
Witham, who spent most of his life schooling young horses in preparation for the racetrack, also worked as a trainer and former jockey, having come to the United States from Europe in the late 1960s.
“We always appreciated his tremendous ability as a horseman, and his friendship,” said Nichols.
A funeral mass will take place Dec. 19 at noon for Witham at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Camden.
Surviving Witham is his sister, Pam W. King of Cambridgeshire, England, and brother, Mike Witham of New South Wales, Australia. Witham was predeceased by brothers, Bill and John Witham of the United Kingdom.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to The Steeplechase Fund, 400 Fair Hill Drive, Elkton, MD 21921 or to The Donald McBeth Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 18740, Encino, CA 91416.