Popular showjumping figure Liz Edgar dies after short cancer battle

Liz Edgar in action with Everest Forever.
Liz Edgar in action with Everest Forever. © Facebook/Liz Edgar

British international showjumper, trainer, and breeder Liz Edgar has died just three days before her 77th birthday, after a short battle with cancer.

Her passing on Saturday, April 25, was announced by British Showjumping, which Liz served as a Board Director.

Liz, the younger sister of David Broome, moved to Leek Wootton in Warwickshire from her family home in Monmouthshire when she married the late international Showjumper Ted Edgar in 1965. The Rio Grande farm at Leek Wootton continued to be their family home, which they enjoyed with daughter Marie who arrived six years after their marriage, and the centre of their equestrian business until their deaths. Ted died in late 2018 but Liz and Marie continued with the equestrian business. Liz was frequently seen at shows taking a particular interest in the young horse classes as well as following the success of those that she had bred.

Liz Edgar. © Facebook/Liz Edgar

As a rider, Liz represented Great Britain on numerous Championship and Nations Cup teams and a tremendous ambassador for British Showjumping and equestrianism as a whole. At the age of just 12 she made her first appearance at Horse of the Year Show and at the age of 17 years she won the Young Rider Championships for the first time before winning it again the following year. Winning the Queen Elizabeth Cup five times, a record that still remains unbeaten, she was also the first woman to win the FEI 5* Aachen Grand Prix in 1980. Her most prolific partnership was with the chestnut Everest Forever, with whom she won the Aachen Grand Prix, three of her Queen Elizabeth wins, partnered at the 1984 European Championships in Munich and also rode on the Nations Cup team at Dublin Horse Show in 1985 when they lifted the Aga Khan trophy.

A household name throughout her competitive career, Liz was recorded as saying “Showjumping has always been in my blood, but more importantly just in my life”. Liz’s father had enjoyed the sport and taught himself to compete and with older brother following in his footsteps it was a natural progression that found Liz competing on her pony from as young as six.

Liz was known not only for her competitive spirit and incredible talent but also for her very stylish and classical way of riding. She was instantly recognisable in the arena for her quiet way of riding and the natural empathy that she had with every horse she sat on and was an inspiration to multiple generations wanting to take up riding.

The success that Liz had in the arena was equalled in the Rio Grande equestrian business that she ran with Ted. Innovators in the sport, they attracted a sponsorship package never seen in the sport before when they partnered with Everest Double Glazing. The sponsorship started in 1970 and lasted for more than two decades making both the sponsor and themselves household names via the huge profile they had on TV and within the media.

As a result of the sponsorship, the yard expanded and several high profile riders of the future became connected to the Rio Grande enterprise including London 2012 team and Rio 2016 individual gold medallist Nick Skelton and London 2012 team gold medallist Ben Maher. Other British riders who gained considerable international success who were connected to the Everest/Edgar partnership were Geoff Luckett, Lesley McNaught, Janet Hunter, Emma-Jane Brown and the late Michael Mac who also went on to become British Showjumping Chairman.

In later years, breeding showjumping horses of the future was a particular passion for Liz and she took great pride in having bred Diva II who went on to have a very high profile Grand Prix win at Olympia in 2014 before going on to represent Great Britain at the European Championships in 2015 with Ben Maher. Having bred Diva, from a mare that she had competed successfully with herself named Debutante, it gave Liz great pleasure to see her flourish with Ben whom she had also assisted early in his career.

“Liz was highly respected and liked by all who knew her,” British Showjumping said. “She always made time for everyone and was extremely personable. Her passion for the sport was unyielding and with a desire to give back to it she gave a substantial amount of her time freely to the association serving on a number of committees as well as sitting on the Executive Board.”

Liz Edgar with Everest Forever. © British Showjumping

A member of the Executive Board for almost 25 years, Liz also held the post of vice-chairman for eight of them. During this time Liz was also a much-valued member of several committees.

“Liz will be greatly be missed by the sport not only for her immense knowledge and understanding of the sport but also as a person who had so much ambition for it. She said in an interview that if she had to describe showjumping that it was a sport for life as age didn’t stop one’s love for it or access to it and this really summed up Liz’s passion for it.”

David Broome said that his sister’s contribution to showjumping was far more than people realised. “It was her whole life. As her older brother, I admired her not only for her utter dedication and all the qualities she brought to the equestrian world as well as for her legendary knowledge and riding expertise but also for her humility, lack of fuss and total straightforwardness.

“As children, Liz was the worker. She deserved success – I was just lucky. She worked the ponies and horses for me and I pinched the glory. One of my greatest memories was when we cantered around the ring together as brother and sister having won the King and Queens Cup at Wembley. Liz set the yardstick for riding in such a flowing sympathetic manner and this never changed throughout her career. She was a perfect example for other riders to follow and I always admired her fluency, accuracy and the way she made it look so easy. For 25 years or more we would travel together to the executive committee meetings and always remained close friends even after we both stopped riding. I feel sure I can speak on behalf of our whole family in saying that in her unassuming way she was the ‘rock’ of the family on whom we all relied to keep us right and in order,” Broome said.

“This shocking loss will one day wear off but the memory of her as a wonderful sister, a true friend, a wonderfully supportive mother to my niece Marie and a lady of such principle and dignity will live on. She died as she lived – a true lady to the end.”

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