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Time to say goodbye

Today is a very sad day for us all at Combridge. It was time to say goodbye to our wonderful mare Ballaseyr Royale. She was 27 years old and, although she looked very well, old-age had recently started to take its toll.

Royale represented Great Britain at Olympic, World and European Championships and at the World Cup Finals. She also became the British National Champion. She finished her competitive career shortly after the Athens Olympics and retired completely sound. For the following eleven years she enjoyed a happy life here on the farm overseeing everything through her big kind eyes and with her huge ears always pricked forward. She is the mother of my current grand prix ride Bubblingh (by Lingh) and she herself was related to Blue Hors Matine and Matador.

I know I am not the only one to shed tears at her passing as Royale held a special place in the hearts of all our staff both past and present. I would like to thank all of them and everyone else who contributed to Royale’s care including our travelling grooms, vets, farrier, physio, Louise Morton and all of the support team within Team GBR and the UK Sport World Class Programme.

But I will always be most indebted to Royale’s owner, our loyal supporter and friend Gwendolyn Sontheim, for granting me the privilege of riding Royale and entrusting her care to me.

Royale’s story is not only that of an extraordinary and wonderful horse, but also of an on-going journey that united so many special people. This was part of her legacy; this was her gift.