An animal lover saved an old mare from the slaughterhouse only to discover it was once — one of the world’s greatest POLO horses.
Michelle Wrenn paid £450 for 23 year-old Nata when she heard her previous owner planned to have her put down.
But after rescuing the ‘nag’ Michelle discovered Nata had belonged to the Queen’s favourite player and former coach to Prince Charles, Wills and Harry.
She had fallen in the love with the ageing chestnut and wanted to give her a happy retirement in the rolling Devonshire countryside.
But Michelle was stunned to discover Nata was once the toast of the world’s polo circuit and worth hundreds of thousands of pounds in her prime.
She had been owned by socialite Royston Prisk who was still riding her completively earlier this year.
Nata was also the mount of polo legend Carlos Gracida – reputedly the Queen’s favourite player and a former coach to Prince Charles and Princes William and Harry.
Mum-of-two Michelle, 54, stumbled across Nata when she decided to buy a horse to look after at her rural home in Ellacombe, near Torquay, Devon.
She fell in love with the illustrious animal as soon as she laid eyes on her.
Nata’s previous owner had made a mistake with her age and after discovering she was much older than first thought planned to sell her off quickly or send her to the slaughterhouse.
Michelle, a fund-raising manager, said: “As soon as a friend told me about Nata I went to see her and I was struck by just how beautiful she was.
“She was facing a very uncertain fate and I didn’t want to see her suffer. I saw something special in her and bought her.
“Nata had been passed between dealers and didn’t have a proper home. The last owner hadn’t done their maths properly and thought she was only 13.
“When they worked out her true age they simply didn’t want her.
Michelle decided to research Nata’s history when she saw her being ridden by a family friend and suspected the graceful animal was a thoroughbred.
She went on: “I had her passport and there was one stamp from an English vet. When I called him and said Nata’s name, he said he would call me back in 10 minutes.
“He then phoned and confirmed it was the well-known polo horse.
“I then did a bit of research into Nata’s past and discovered she had been ridden by top polo players like Royston Prisk and Carlos Gracida. I was really shocked.”
Michelle also contacted Mr Prisk who was shocked to hear his former mare had come so close to being destroyed.
Mr. Prisk, from Windsor, Berks. said: “She is an extremely special horse. We had a great connection and were very much in tune with one another.
“I had her for around six years and she’s one of the best horses I ever rode. I rode her at the O2 arena this year in the Gaucho International polo event. She was such a reliable horse.
“She recently suffered from an injury and because of her age, I thought it was best that she retired as I thought it was unfair to keep playing her.
“It’s great to know that she is being loved and well looked after by Michelle.
“It would be great to visit Nata to meet Michelle and visit her in her new home.”