Everest to end support : EQUESTRIANISM

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The top three British show jumping riders - the two Whitaker brothers and Nick Skelton - will be seeking new sponsorship after yesterday's announcement that Everest, the double glazing company, are pulling out of the sport after an involvement tha t has lasted 28 years.

The firm has supported these three riders - plus Liz Edgar, her daughter, Marie, and Geoff Luckett - to the tune of £500,000 a year. They have given additional sponsorship for competitions and they are going to be exceptionally hard to replace.

The riders' contracts will not be renewed when they expire at the end of this year. The reason given is that "it is time for a change and for us to bring a fresh approach and new ideas to our promotional strategy". That can be read to mean that the new managing director is not particularly interested in show jumping.

Liz Edgar has ridden for the Everest Team for 26 years, which is probably a record in show jumping sponsorship, and she is not complaining. "I've been very lucky through all those years, because Everest had a managing director and chairman who were switched on to horses," she said. "Nothing lasts for ever and you don't really expect it to last that long."

All but one of the top 11 horses on the latest British computer rankings have an Everest prefix - as does the wonderful grey gelding, Milton, who began his emotional retirement tour at Olympia last month. It often seemed like overkill and was always going to be a worry if the firm withdrew its support.

At least the Everest people have given their sponsored riders reasonable notice of their intentions. But all of them face a difficult task in acquiring new backing. It is hard enough for one top rider to find a new sponsor; now it looks as though they will have to compete against each other.