Meet the home-bred Highland mare who became The Queen’s fourth Royal Windsor M&M supreme champion

  • At the 2022 Royal Windsor Horse Show, The Queen was present to watch her home-bred Highland mare, Balmoral Leia, lift the overall Horse & Hound mountain and moorland supreme in-hand championship in front of a packed Castle Arena grandstand crowd.

    The delightful five-year-old mare recently featured on H&H’s Royal Windsor special report cover (19 May).

    “She is a lovely native pony with every characteristic she should have,” enthused David Puttock, who was tasked with judging the 12 native breed victors in the overall championship held on the second day of Royal Windsor. “The mare was beautifully shown and presented, too.”

    Leia, by the late stallion Balmoral Lord and out of former overall Royal Windsor in-hand champion Balmoral Melody, was shown in her class and section championship by her producer Lizzie Briant, but was passed to Henry Hird, champion here last year with Connemara Skargaardens Delicious Love, to take the lead in the Castle Arena final.

    “Leia’s sire sadly died of grass sickness, which was a great shame as he was stunning and greatly adored,” explained Lizzie, who had a team of Balmoral ponies at Windsor.

    This was the fourth time The Queen’s own breeding has triumphed in this championship; Balmoral Dee posted a victory in the early 1990s, Balmoral Jingle was the 2004 champion and Leia’s dam Balmoral Melody had her turn in 2007.

    “Leia is aptly named as she was born on May 4; Star Wars day,” added Lizzie, who hopes Leia will eventually be campaigned as a ridden pony.

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