LEADING showjumper Paul Beecher has been robbed of thousands of euro worth of equipment -- while he filmed a television interview nearby.
The 29-year-old won the world-famous Hickstead Derby in England last June and was filming a documentary about his remarkable win when the calculating thieves struck.
"I was in the yard myself all day except for just over an hour when I went out to the field with the crew to film some of the young horses," said Mr Beecher, whose yard is outside Tallow in Co Waterford.
"They must have been watching the yard for their chance. I'm just sickened," he added.
"I have a good security system of padlocks on the yard but they were open during the day."
While Mr Beecher worked with the television crew from Horse and Country TV, thieves managed to steal 14 saddles and 10 show bridles, including some top-of-the-range gear.
The thieves walked right through the Beecher stableyard on Monday afternoon to gain access to the tack room. They then rifled through horse rugs and stole everything of value in the room.
The haul included expensive Jaguar and Prestige saddles, and top-brand bridles like Stubben and Schockemohle.
"About 15 years ago, all our tack was stolen," Mr Beecher said. "They cleared out the tack room and took about 12 saddles that time."
The young showjumper shot to fame earlier this summer by becoming one of just eight Irish winners of the prestigious Hickstead Derby.
The Waterford rider described his Hickstead win as something he had "dreamed about since I was a little kid watching on television".