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‘A lady to the end’: farewell to showjumping legend Liz Edgar

A former top international competitor who “put showjumping on the map”, Liz Edgar has died today (25 April) aged 76.

Liz won the Queen Elizabeth Cup a record five times, represented Great Britain at championships and on numerous Nations Cup teams and supported the early careers of top riders including Nick Skelton and Ben Maher.

Her older brother and fellow top international showjumper David Broome said: “Liz’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 and for her legendary knowledge and riding expertise but also for her humility, lack of fuss and total straightforwardness.”

Liz married international showjumper Ted Edgar in 1965, and the pair ran their equestrian business at Rio Grande farm in Leek Wootton, Warwickshire. Since Ted’s death in 2018, Liz had continued with the business along with their daughter Marie.

Liz first jumped at the Horse of the Year Show aged 12 and went on to international success, which also included being the first woman to win the five-star Aachen grand prix, on Everest Forever.

“Liz was known not only for her competitive spirit and incredible talent but also for her very stylish and classical way of riding,” said a British Showjumping (BS) spokesman. “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.”

Liz and Ted’s yard was connected to a raft of other top riders, including Lesley McNaught, Geoff Luckett, the late Michael Mac, Jane Hunter and Emma-Jane Brown. The Edgars were known for their trailblazing sponsorship deal with Everest Double Glazing, which made themselves and the company household names.

Breeding became a passion for Liz, who bred Ben Maher’s 2015 European Championships ride Diva II out of her own successful ride Debutante.

“Liz was highly respected and liked by all who knew her, she always made time for everyone and was extremely personable,” the BS spokesman said. “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 was on the executive board for almost 25 years, and vice-chairman for eight, during which time she also sat on a number of other committees.

“She 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 going forward and an immense desire to see it continually develop and for a wish to assist up-and-coming riders of the future to reach their goals and true potential,” the spokesman said.

“She said in an interview that if she had to describe showjumping, 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 added that as children, Liz was the worker, who deserved her success.

“I was just lucky,” he said. “She worked the ponies and horses for me and I pinched the glory. One of my greatest memories was when we cantered round the ring together as brother and sister having won the King’s and Queen’s 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.

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“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.”

BS chief executive Iain Graham said: “We will miss Liz greatly. She was an incredible competitor who put showjumping on the map for many, inspiring them to not only ride but also to have a lifelong affinity with the sport.

“Liz was also a woman who had huge vision for the future and embraced it from all angles whether it be for her passion for training through to her understanding of how to best breed and produce horses for the future.

“She was always a great ambassador for the sport and her help has proved invaluable not only on a personal level but also to all who have ever served on a committee or board alongside her.

“We will miss Liz greatly and our deepest and heartfelt sympathy goes to daughter Marie and Liz’s family and friends during this extremely sad time.”

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