Richard Davison’s international dressage partner, Ballaseyr Royale, is turning her back on the international dressage limelight and is to be put in foal to the KWPN stallion Lingh.

The two horses should make an exciting match, as Lingh was a grand prix winner at the Last Vegas World Cup Final and the Dutch Dressage Championship. According to Davison, “he is the absolute horse of the moment”.

Davison and Ballaseyr Royale have enjoyed an extremely successful partnership, representing Britain at the Athens Olympics, and being part of bronze medal winning teams at both the European Championships in 2003 and the World Equestrian Games in 2002. Consistent performances in World Cup qualifiers throughout Europe this year have led the duo to become known as the ‘anchor’ of the British team.

“It’s been an absolute privilege to ride her,” Davison said of Royale, who is called “Big Bird” at home. “She’s a really strong character and tries every time. Any mistakes in our performances were always mine, never hers.”

The retirement of Big Bird fulfils Davison’s policy of retiring horses from competition when he feels they have reached their peak. “She is perfectly sound,” he told Horse & Hound Online, “ but I feel a huge responsibility to repay her for all she has given me.”

Vet Eric Klaui, from the Pool House Equine Clinic in Lichfield will inseminate the 15-year-old Danish-bred mare later this week using chilled semen. This will be Big Bird’s first foal, but Davison believes she will take to her new career like a duck to water. “We’ve always thought she was a natural mother. Both Royale and Lingh have fantastic temperaments.”

Owner Gwendolyn Meyer and Davison have spent months deliberating over arrangements concerning Royale’s future as a broodmare and it has finally been decided that she will remain in Davison’s yard in the United Kingdom where an “easibed nursery” has been created for her.

Davison is thrilled that the mare is to stay on British turf: “Gwendolyn’s decision to leave Royale with is in the UK is very touching”, he said.

It remains to be seen who will take over from Royale as Davison’s top competition horse. “ We’ll have to wait and see,” says Davison. “There are a few young pretenders but it will take a lot to replace Royale.”