Queen’s pony wins Royal Windsor Horse Show championship

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Balmoral Leia won the Mountain and Moorland Supreme In Hand Championship for the Queen at the Royal Windsor Horse Show.
Balmoral Leia won the Mountain and Moorland Supreme In Hand Championship for the Queen at the Royal Windsor Horse Show. © NixonPhoto/RWHS

Showing success at the Royal Windsor Horse Show continued for Queen Elizabeth II, who was on hand to watch as her home-bred Highland mare, Balmoral Leia, claimed the prestigious Mountain and Moorland Supreme In Hand Championship.

The five-year-old was shown by producer Lizzie Briant to win a strong adult class in the Castle Arena before the reins were handed over to fellow native pony enthusiast, Henry Hird, for the final reckoning. The Queen was said to be “in jubilant spirits” at the result.

“She’s a beautiful mare, and this success is entirely down to Lizzie, who has produced her beautifully — I was just handed the lucky reins for the Championship,” said Henry, who earlier showed the Queen’s yearling colt, Balmoral Duke, to be third in the Strong Youngstock class.

“Leia is such a pretty mare and a joy to have,” added Lizzie. “She is also broken-in to ride, and I have high hopes for her.”

The second day of the show in the private grounds of Windsor Castle got under way with the CSI5* Show Jumping and CAIO4* International Driving, and the Coaching Marathon provided a spectacle as they headed down the Long Walk.

Another Royal took the reins at the show, with the Queen’s granddaughter, Lady Louise Windsor, leading the parade to mark the Fell Pony Society Centenary. Lady Louise is the eldest child of Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, and Sophie, Countess of Wessex.

Lady Louise Windsor leads the parade marking the centenary of the Fell Pony Society at Windsor.
Lady Louise Windsor leads the parade marking the centenary of the Fell Pony Society at Windsor. © NixonPhoto/RWHS

Riders representing countries including Uruguay, South Africa, Portugal, Spain and India set out on Friday morning for the Royal Windsor Endurance ride, with 54 combinations riding tracks around the stunning Windsor Great Park to compete in CEI3* 160km, CEI2*/YJ 120km, and CEI1*/YJ 100km classes.

The day remained sunny but cool and although dusty, the tracks benefitted a little from the rain earlier in the week.

Bahrain’s Sheikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa won the 3* 160km ride at Windsor on Coeur De Ghazal.
Bahrain’s Sheikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa won the 3* 160km ride at Windsor on Coeur De Ghazal. © NixonPhoto/RWHS

News of the death of President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates emerged during the ride, and as a result some of those representing the UAE made the decision to retire.

The CEI3* 160km was won by Bahrain’s HH Sheikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa on Coeur De Ghazal in a total time of 07:41:27. The CEI2* 120km had a Bahrain one, two, three and was won by Mohamed Abdulhameed Alhashemi riding Darco la Majorie in a time of 04:58:17. In the CEI1* 100km it was Kuwait’s Abdalaziz F M D Al Mutairi on Dune Du Claud in 04:36:10. The young riders did not complete.

Great Britain had 11 competitors in total and seven finished, with a particularly strong showing in the 100km, where all British Riders finished. Nicola Thorne placed second on L.I.Wallonia in 05:00:08 and Annie Joppe third on HS Chiara in 05:22:47.

Royal Windsor Endurance Director, Nick Brooks-Ward said: “The course was excellent and there was a tremendous atmosphere of care and cooperation amongst competitors and crews.”

Ground Jury President Brian Dunn (IRL), said it was a well-run and well-organised event. “The course was great; technical and testing and we had an experienced, capable team of officials. Horses were ably cared for with welfare at the forefront of everyone’s minds.”

President of the Treating Veterinarians, Tom Eaton-Evans (GBR), said that very few horses were treated, which was the sign of a good ride. “Some were kept under observation but the treating team was quiet all day. One horse has been taken to Newmarket Equine Hospital for assessment for hindlimb lameness. No others needed any medical intervention.”

Henrik von Eckermann and Iliana won the 5* Manama Stakes at Windsor.
Henrik von Eckermann and Iliana won the 5* Manama Stakes at Windsor. © NixonPhoto/RWHS

The opening 5* showjumping class of the show, a two-phase competition, went to 2020 Olympic team gold medalist Henrik von Eckermann riding Iliana.

Guy Williams took the early lead aboard Rouge de Ravel, making all the turns to set a time to beat of 25.66 and giving the crowd something to cheer about. For much of the class, it looked like Williams was going to bring home a British victory, but Christian Ahlmann riding Calvino 16 rode a masterful second phase against the clock to take the lead. With just four to go, von Eckermann, partnering the nine-year-old mare Iliana, jumped a flawless round to shave 0.04 seconds of Ahlmann’s time to secure the victory.

Daniel Deusser and Bingo Ste Hermelle won The Pearl Stakes at Windsor.
Daniel Deusser and Bingo Ste Hermelle won The Pearl Stakes at Windsor. © NixonPhoto/RWHS

The feature class of the day, The Pearl Stakes, was a 1.55m jump-off class featuring some of the best horses and riders in the world. Of the 13 combinations going through to the second round, 10 were former World No. 1 riders. Daniel Deusser and Bingo Ste Hermelle set the pace as third to go, with the first double clear in a time of 36.32. Bernardo Costa Cabral’s course proved challenging, with many riders accruing faults when trying to catch Deusser. Jos Velooy came closest with Luciano van het Geinsteinde, posting a time of 37.46. John Whitaker showed his experience to go into third with just two left to go, but no-one was able to match Deusser’s performance, leaving the German to take the spoils.

The Coaching Marathon heads along the Long Walk at the Royal Windsor Horse Show.
The Coaching Marathon heads along the Long Walk at the Royal Windsor Horse Show. © NixonPhoto/RWHS

Yorkshireman Robert Walker claimed an impressive fourth consecutive Hunter Championship aboard Jill Day’s reigning Horse of the Year Show champion View Point.

The prestigious Novice Hunter Championship fell this year to racing enthusiast Liz Prowting’s five-year-old lightweight victor Bloomfield President, partnered by young rider Alice Homer, who captured the Working Hunter Championship the day before on another horse.

Boyd Exell and his team lead after the first phase of the CAIO4* Driving Grand Prix.
Boyd Exell and his team lead after the first phase of the CAIO4* Driving Grand Prix. © NixonPhoto/RWHS

The lead on day one in the Royal Windsor CAIO4* Land Rover Grand Prix went to current indoor and outdoor FEI Driving World Champion Boyd Exell (AUS) who scored just shy of 80% to head the Dressage. With a margin of just over 5%, he sits ahead of multiple Dutch champion Isjbrand Chardon with a score of 74.3%. In third with 71.8% is Germany’s Mareike Harm, one of two ladies in the Horse Fours class. The USA’s Chester Weber is in fourth. The highest placed British competitor is Daniel Naprous who scored 60.6% to take him into 10th place.

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