The Queen has bought two rare pure-bred Cleveland bay mares from a Yorkshire breeder for the carriage breeding programme at the Royal Paddocks in Hampton Court.
Heather and Philip Ketley have bred Cleveland bays on their North Yorkshire farm for over 20 years.
Nine-year-old mare Galli Howe Graceful Girl (Gracie) was bought by Mrs Ketley as a yearling. The other mare, Kirkmoor Iris Flower, is a seven-year-old home-bred.
“It is a tremendous honour to have our horses going to the Royal Paddocks,” said Mrs Ketley.
The family has been asked to put both mares in foal to their home-bred Cleveland Bay stallions Kirkmoor Elderberry Flower (Berry) and Kirkmoor Wolfsbane Flower (Ted)
Berry is the current holder of the King George V cup for the best pure-bred quality assured stallion of the breed in the UK.
At last week’s Great Yorkshire show (12-14 July), Gracie (pictured) took first prize for a brood mare aged four and over and won the reserve champion award.
At the show the Ketleys and the rest of the Kirkmoor team were were given tokens of appreciation from the Royal Paddocks by the president of the Cleveland Bay Society, Steve Pullan (pictured, below).
“It’s a day I will never forget,” said Mr Ketley, whose wife was president of the society last year.
The mares are now being put into foal under veterinary supervision from Alison Walters at the Hambleton Equine Clinic in Great Ayton.
“It is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Mrs Ketley, of the chance to see two of her mares go to the Royal Paddocks.
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The Cleveland bay has been supported by the Royal family for use in the Royal Mews for generations. Her Majesty has been patron of the society since 1974.
The breed is on category one on the Rare Breeds Survial Trust critical list and is considered rarer than the giant panda.
There are 1,000 Cleveland Bays worldwide, 80% of which are in the UK. Only about 20 foals have been born annually in Britain in the last two years.