In 2012 the racecourse was decked in four kilometres of bunting as Ascot played its part in The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations.
To the delight of everyone, there was a Royal winner last year in the shape of Estimate in the Queen’s Vase and The Queen received the trophy from The Duke of Edinburgh – it was purely coincidental that His Highness had consented to present the trophy for that race, and an even more wonderful moment for it.
That race took place on Friday and The Queen had come close earlier in the week when Carlton House, one of the best horses she has ever owned (now in training in Australia), was second to So You Think in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes.
The Queen’s previous Royal Ascot winner, her 20th, 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 stretches back to 1952, with her first winner, owned jointly with her mother, the humble Monaveen in a Fontwell jumps 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 great 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 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Hardwicke Stakes. Aureole went on to be champion sire in Britain in 1960/61.
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 VI, 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 entered another golden period 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 win last year, she has had 21 Royal Ascot winners to date.
There is nothing like a Royal winner to light up the week and we could see a repeat of last year as Estimate is on course for the Gold Cup following her victory in the Longines Sagaro Stakes.
Pictured: The Queen arriving at Royal Ascot (top) and at the Epsom Derby (above).