Ardenhall Royal Secret, the show pony who gave dressage superstar Charlotte Dujardin her first taste of the spotlight, has died in Australia at the age of 31.

“She was the pony who put me on the map for my future career,” said Charlotte. “We all thought the world of her.”

The 128cm mare, by Fairley Rembrandt out of Woodview Karelia — known at home as Millie — was bred by Jane May at the Ardenhall Stud.

“Millie will always hold a special place in my heart,” said Jane. “She was a winner from the start — she stood supreme foal under judge Liz Mansfield-Parnell at Cheshire Foal Show in 1987— and you couldn’t wish for a more accomplished and complete pony.”

The mare was then sold to Joyce Newbery and afterwards to the Dujardins, before going to Australia in 1998, carrying her first foal.

Millie was produced by Ron and Debbie Thomas throughout her stellar UK career and as a four-year-old, stood second and reserve at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) with Kate Seaton.

She subsequently landed the coveted Royal International and HOYS championship double in 1994 with Charlotte’s sister Emma-Jayne Dujardin, who posted a remarkable run of 18 consecutive unbeaten outings. She was also champion at RIHS in 1996 with Charlotte, who occupied the top HOYS spot the following year.

“Millie was a very special pony to both of us,” said Emma-Jayne. “Charlotte couldn’t beat my record with her, though!”

Among Millie’s other major triumphs were titles at numerous top shows including The Royal and Royal Windsor. She was twice supreme at the British Show Pony Society (BSPS) championships.

In her career as a broodmare in Australia, Millie was first owned by Lloyd Scott and later to Angelene Penalurick of the Kolbeach Stud. Darren Telford and Greg Terry of the Whitmere Stud succeeded in buying her in 2009.

She bred 14 foals — eight colts and six fillies — and her last filly, Whitmere Palace Secret, was champion under saddle at the recent Sydney Royal Easter show.

“We were privileged to have owned Millie,” said Darren. “She has been the backbone of our stud and through her stock — and in turn her daughter LJS Keeping Secret — we have an entire family of ponies that will hopefully do her proud for years to come.

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“She was such a character — always first up with a whinny and at the front of the group.  She had her last foal at 26, having never missed a season and always without complication.

“Millie is laid to rest in the garden beside the house, where we will plant an English oak in her memory.”

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