The equestrian community in Aiken and beyond was saddened to learn of the passing of Mimie Percival on May 5. Mimie, who lived in Aiken, was a well-known horsewoman and horse trainer who devoted her life to animals. She was 67.
Mimie was born in Blackpool, a seaside town in the North of England, where her father, Allen Percival, was a racehorse trainer who also trained dogs and horses for the circus. Mimie grew up riding: she and her brother Victor galloped horses on the beach for their father, and sometimes swam them in the cold North Sea. By the time she was 13, was also earning money performing as an acrobat and ballet dancer.
At 18, Mimie was already a seasoned professional horsewoman, who left her father’s yard to work for other trainers, eventually working her way up to be Head Girl for John Sumner, then Steward of the Jockey Club. She saddled numerous winners, including Well To Do, who won the Grand National.
In addition to steeplechasing, Mimie also went fox hunting, participated in point-to-point races and eventually became hooked on polo. Polo took her to the annual snow polo tournament in St, Moritz, Switzerland, and even to Windsor Castle, where she worked for HRH Prince Phillip.
Polo also brought her to America, first to Florida, then to Kansas, where she ran polo operations for the Carney family, played herself, and bought, trained and sold polo ponies. She started many top horses, including Amy, a plain bay Thoroughbred mare that she sold to Adam Snow, a 10-goal player. Amy was Adam’s best horse for several years and won the Harman trophy as the Best Playing Pony in the US Open in 2006.
Mimie came to Aiken in 1999, where she continued to play polo, both on Aiken’s fields and in Sarasota, Fla. during the winters. After an accident curtailed her playing, she went back to training steeplechasers, including Unalienable Right (“Jethro”), who won at Callaway Gardens in Georgia and raced in the Aiken Steeplechase. Her brother Victor, along with his wife Maxine, came over from England to help her develop the steeplechase training facility Allwin Stables, which was named for her father’s yard back in England.
In recent years, Mimie’s health began to decline, taking her out of active horse training. She remained a dedicated animal lover, and was especially devoted to her dogs. All those who knew her remember her as a true individual, a horseman in the deepest sense of the word, and a supporter of anything to do with horses and horse people.
She is survived by her brother, Victor Allen and sister in law Maxine Percival, Milnthorpe, U.K. Mimie will be laid to rest with her late mother in England, in accordance with her wishes.
The family has asked that there be no flowers or donations, just happy memories.
A memorial service will be held at 11:00 AM, Thursday, May 14, in the Shellhouse Funeral Home chapel with the Reverend Dr. Henry Chennault officiating.
SHELLHOUSE FUNERAL HOME INC., 924 HAYNE AVE., AIKEN, SC
Her online guest book may be signed by visiting www.shellhousefuneralhome.com