The Queen and Royal Ascot
When the Diamond Jubilee Royal Ascot of 2012 was lit up by Estimate’s win in the Queen’s Vase, who would have thought that 12 months later The Queen’s filly would be back to etch her name onto the greatest Ascot roll of honour by winning the Gold Cup?
That emotional moment was the highlight of a memorable week and thousands of racegoers cheered from the moment winning jockey Ryan Moore saluted the Royal Box to the presentation of the trophy to The Queen, which she received from her son, The Duke of York.
Estimate provided The Queen’s 22nd Royal Ascot winner.
The last few years have been something of a golden period for The Queen as an owner as, in addition to Estimate’s double, her Carlton House was second to the great former Australian-trained So You Think in the 2012 Prince of Wales’s Stakes.
The Queen’s previous Royal Ascot winner had come on the final day of the 2008 meeting when Free Agent came from a seemingly impossible position to win the Chesham Stakes, ending a blank period stretching back to 1999.
The Queen’s involvement with racing began in 1952 and her first winner, Monaveen, owned jointly with her mother, came in a humble Fontwell jump race.
On the death of her father, King George VI, The Queen inherited the Royal string of Flat horses, which at the time were mainly trained by Cecil Boyd-Rochford and Noel Murless. It didn’t take long for her first top horse to come along.
Aureole, by the great Hyperion, was second to Pinza in the 1953 Derby and he must rank as one of The Queen’s best horses, with victories in the 1954 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Hardwicke Stakes. Aureole went on to be champion sire in Britain.
The Queen’s first Royal Ascot success came when Choir Boy landed the 1953 Royal Hunt Cup, one of 11 successes during the 1950s, with others including 1957 Ribblesdale Stakes winner Almeria, who went on to finish second in the King George, and Pall Mall, who took the 1957 New Stakes en route to victory in the 2,000 Guineas the following year.
The 1960s were a quieter time for the Royal thoroughbreds, although Aiming High landed the 1961 Coronation Stakes and Hopeful Venture the 1968 Hardwicke Stakes.
But The Queen’s racing fortunes returned in the 1970s, helped by the brilliant Dick Hern-trained filly Highclere, who won the 1,000 Guineas and French Oaks in 1974 before finishing second to Dahlia in that year’s King George.
As Silver Jubilee celebrations were being held throughout the land in 1977, a filly came along that would ensure a year of tremendous success for the Royal colours, with Dunfermline winning both the Oaks and St Leger.
The Queen has not since had another Dunfermline but there have been successes, including Colour Sergeant in the 1992 Royal Hunt Cup, Phantom Gold in the 1995 Ribblesdale Stakes and Blueprint in the 1999 Duke of Edinburgh Stakes. In all, following Estimate’s wins, she has had 22 Royal Ascot winners to date.