How horse racing was Queen Elizabeth II’s enduring ardour

It was a uncommon second when her public entrance slipped because the then 87-year-old — with all of the enthusiasm of a younger woman — watched on from the Royal Field and urged her mare to the successful line.

It was a unprecedented second that can stay lengthy within the reminiscence for a lot of observers because it provided a human aspect not often displayed amongst all of the pomp and protocol.

The races have been among the many few events when the Queen might enable her guard to drop in public for a number of moments and she or he might combine amongst the racegoers as a pure racing fan. However, as these within the sport know, she was removed from simply being a fan.

Horses have been central to the Queen’s life from a really younger age.

She was simply 16 when she first visited a racing steady. Her father, George VI, went along with her to solid his eye on two prime race horses — Large Sport and Solar Chariot.

“She watched them do some gallops ahead of some big races that were imminent,” journalist and writer Julian Muscat instructed CNN in 2018.

“Afterward, she went and patted them on the head and loved the feel and the silkiness of their coats.

“The story goes that she did not wash her fingers for the remainder of the day.”

Her love for horses remained undiminished, whether it was her success breeding native ponies, her equine charitable work or, most notably, her long and successful relationship with the thoroughbred racehorse. 

And while Estimate may have provided the Queen with arguably her finest win as an owner, she enjoyed widespread success with multiple winners to her name since her coronation in 1953.

She was named British Flat racing Champion Owner in 1954 and 1957 and — with victories at the St Leger Stakes, Epsom Oaks, 1,000 Guineas and 2,000 Guineas — the only one of the five British Classic Races that eluded her was the Epsom Derby.

Of all the horses she successfully owned, most of them were home-breds.

It’s a side of the sport she took a particular interest in and it’s said that she took satisfaction from having seen that horse as a foal, grow up and then go to the races.

She made regular visits to the Royal Stud in Sandringham, Norfolk and, once the horses finished racing, they remained in her care in retirement.  Her first public appearance after the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020 was, of course, her riding one of her ponies around the grounds of Windsor Castle.

The racing world was quick to pay its respects following news of her death.

Top jockey Frankie Dettori said it was an “honor of a lifetime” to experience for the Queen on many events.

“As a person, it was a higher honor to have identified such a exceptional individual,” he added in a press release on Twitter.

“I might be ceaselessly grateful for the time, kindness and humour Her Majesty warmly afforded me. Thanks, ma’am.”

The Queen held a lifelong love for horses.

It is a common sight to see trainers and owners briefing jockeys before races, discussing tactics and opportunities, and the Queen was no different.

If she had a horse running in her colors at Royal Ascot, there is no doubt that she would have been down in the parade ring, talking to the trainer and jockey while studying the other runners in the race.

Her knowledge of racing was said to be encyclopedic and she was the unofficial figurehead of British racing.

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Such was her importance to the sport, race meetings were canceled in the UK as soon as her death was announced.

Many of the overseas horses that come to Royal Ascot from the likes of the United States, Hong Kong and Australia don’t come for the prize money, which is behind practically any other race, but they come for the prestige, much of which was associated with the Queen.

She missed the festival for the first time since her coronation this year as she continued to experience mobility issues.

“To sit down with the Queen is a reminiscence I am going to always remember for the remainder of my life,” American trainer Wesley Ward told Royal Ascot in 2016.

“We had a beautiful discuss in regards to the horses and she or he was very all in favour of speaking to me, in so far as my horses sort of shoot to the entrance and I have been fortunate sufficient to win a pair that manner. And she or he was asking me all about my ways and the way I prepare them to do this.

“So I just kind of looked at her and I said, ‘Well, when you go to the front, they gotta catch you.’ And she said, ‘That’s what I tell my trainers’… It was just like you’re sitting talking to somebody who’s at the races. You’ve gotta kind of pinch yourself and realize you’re talking to the Queen of England.”

Her curiosity in horse racing was handed down by means of the generations, and though it was by no means stronger than within the Queen’s reign, hopes are excessive that Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, who’ve had Royal Ascot runners in recent times, will proceed the royal custom.