With great sadness British Showjumping announced this weekend the death of former international showjumper Liz Edgar following a short battle with cancer:
Liz, the younger sister of David Broome CBE, 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 death. Liz was widowed at the end of 2018 when husband Ted passed away but continued with the equestrian business, alongside daughter Marie, and 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 home bred.
As a rider, Liz was incredibly successful representing 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 twelve 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 which 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 years-old.
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 husband 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 to where 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 latter 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 called Debutante, it gave Liz great pleasure to see her flourish with Ben whom she had also assisted early on in his career.
Liz was highly respected and liked by all who knew her, 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.
A member of the Executive Board for almost twenty five years, Liz also held the post of Vice Chairman for eight of them. During this time Liz was also a much valued member of a number of committees which spanned International, Training, Breeding, National Sport as well as the Rules and UK Showjumping Development committees of which she was held the position of Chairman.
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 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. She said in an interview that if she had to describe showjumping that it was a sport for life as age didn’t stop ones love for it or access to it and this really summed up Liz’s passion for it.
David Broome said about his sister “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 as well as for her legendary knowledge and riding expertise but also for her humility, lack of fuss and total straight forwardness.
“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 round 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 twenty five 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.
“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”.
Iain Graham, Chief Executive for British Showjumping 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”.