Royal invitation an ‘honour’ for Hackney horse breeder


A Ballymena man who owns, breeds, shows and judges Hackney horses, said a recent invitation to attend a special reception hosted at Highgrove House by the Prince of Wales was “a real honour”.

Prince Charles, who is president of the Hackney Horse Society (HHS), held the reception as a ‘thank-you’ to members and supporters of the society whose efforts are dedicated to promoting and maintaining the rare Hackney breed.

He also delighted the guests by making a donation to the £1.5m Equine Gene Bank appeal launched by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.

Among the guests at Highgrove was treasurer of the Irish HHS, Ballymena man Leslie Hazlett, and its chairman, Seamus O’Kane, a native of Ballymena.

Leslie said it was “a real honour” to meet Prince Charles, adding that His Royal Highness took the time to speak to everyone who attended and was “very down to earth”.

“He asked me what part of the country I came from and I told him I came from Ballymena and he said he knew it,” said Leslie.

“It was when I told him that I’d been looking at a photo of him in The Thatch Inn (Broughshane) three weeks ago that the craic started!”

Leslie said that when he told Prince Charles the picture was of him drinking a pint of Guinness in the village pub, His Royal Highness said he remembered the occasion.