“He was up there with the great greys Milton and Desert Orchid – Everest Sure Thing” said Marie Edgar, who sadly lost her best friend at the age of 28 after he had enjoyed 11 years retirement in a well deserved life of luxury at their Rio Grande home.

“He didn’t have a cold night out or a warm day in,” said Marie, who clocked up a record number of medals at young rider level with the gentle giant.

Not only was he Sure Thing, he was a certainty at the Young Rider Europeans, and in four appearances from 1988 to 1992, he collated a clutch of medals for Marie — six gold medals, three team and three individual, and an individual bronze and team silver.

“He missed out in 1991 with a virus” said Marie, who took Rapier that year.

However, their start together was not so auspicious, and Marie found the big grey difficult when he first appeared on their yard at the end of his five-year-old year, although they did claim a couple of wins.

“I was competing Invincible Lad at the time, a totally different ride to ‘Rodney’” said Marie, who handed Sure Thing’s reins to Geoff Luckett after he was deemed ‘too big’.

Early promise was evident when, as a six-year-old, he jumped in every HOYS young horse final with high places in the Foxhunter, Grade C and Grade B.

Almost sold to a Swiss buyer, Marie decided on one last try with the scopey grey at Windsor, and they came away with a Grand Prix victory and fourth in the Ladies.

“Dad [Ted] had the job of saying the deal was off” said Marie, who found Rodney a match second time around, “It was like putting on a made-to-measure glove.”

“He was a winner for all who rode him, but he found his niche with Marie” said her mother Liz.

It was the start of the road to wins well in excess of 100 in all class types, Area International Trials, Speed, Ladies and Young Riders both here and abroad to World Cup level.

“He was an out-and-out showjumper and at championship level he knew it mattered” said Marie, who loved him for his quirks as much as his achievements.

“He allowed himself to be caught at his choosing,” said Marie, who spent many a despairing day sat in the middle of the field only for Rodney to walk up to her.

Retired in 1997, Rodney was a big part of Rio Grande yard life and spent his later years as ‘nanny’ to weaned foals, including Debutante’s last filly, Diva, now a three-year-old.

“His eyes were on stalks as she was born, but he soon took to his Mrs Doubtfire role” said Marie, fondly remembering her best friend that took her to the heights of her career. “He was my true Horse of a Lifetime.”