Nothing receives a bigger cheer at Royal Ascot than when Her Majesty The Queen’s famous silks are first past the post.
Over the years many horses have carried those royal colours to victory. Terry Redhead looks back at five of them.
Main photo: Her Majesty The Queen at Royal Ascot with Sir Michael Stoute, by Rachel Groom.
When Tactical, trained by Andrew Balding and ridden by James Doyle, won the Windsor Castle Stakes in 2020, it was her Majesty the Queen‘s 24th Royal Ascot winner. That victory came 67 years after her first success: Choir Boy’s win in the Royal Hunt Cup in 1953 just 15 days after the country had enjoyed the pomp and ceremony of The Queen’s Coronation.
in October 2021 The Queen’s contribution to racing was marked when she became the first entry into the QIPCO British Champions Series Racing Hall of Fame in the Special Contributor category in recognition of her unwavering commitment to and long-standing patronage of the sport.
The Queen‘s father King George VI and great grandfather King Edward VII also used the famous royal colours of purple, gold braid and scarlet. Since her first victory with Monaveen at Fontwell in 1949 those silks have recorded more than 1,800 winners for The Queen, who has twice been Champion Owner, in 1954 and 1957.
Over the years, Royal Ascot has been a highlight of the racing calendar for The Queen, and she has graced the Berkshire course with plenty of success. Here are five of Her Majesty The Queen’s most notable victories:
Aureole, 1954 winner
A year after Choir Boy’s victory, Aureole struck gold in the 1953 Hardwicke Stakes.
Sired by top-performing stallion Hyperion, Aureole had been bred by King George VI and was the first horse The Queen inherited from her father.
As a three-year-old, the colt had become a favourite of The Queen, finishing second in the Derby and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
In the 1954 Hardwicke Stakes, trained by Cecil Boyd-Rochfort and ridden by Eph Smith, Aureole found trouble in running before eventually getting the better of French raider Janitor, giving The Queen her second Royal Ascot win.
This success, on the last day of the Royal Meeting, was part of a double for The Queen, with Landau taking the Rous Memorial Stakes under Sir Gordon Richards.
After his victory, Aureole went on to win the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, the race named after The Queen’s parents, helping Her Majesty The Queen to become the country’s Leading Owner that year.
Colour Sergeant, 1992 winner
The 1992 Royal Hunt Cup held success for the Lord Huntingdon-trained Colour Sergeant, who held on by a neck to defeat northern raider Gymcrak Permiere and end a 13-year wait for another royal success at the meeting.
David Harrison, an apprentice jockey, rode one of the biggest victories of his career in what was Colour Sergeant’s first run of the 1992 racing season.
Thirty-one runners lined up, but it was The Queen’s horse that prevailed to provide a shock 20/1 success. It was Her Majesty The Queen’s first Royal Ascot win since those of Expansive and Buttress in 1979.
Harrison became Champion Apprentice jockey in 1992, with 56 winners, and also claimed the Lester Award for ‘Apprentice Jockey of the Year’.
Phantom Gold, 1995 winner
A bay mare by Machiavellian out of Trying For Gold, Phantom Gold, the great-granddaughter of The Queen’s broodmare Amicable, was trained at West Ilsley by Lord Huntingdon. In 1995, she won the Ribblesdale Stakes, to give jockey Frankie Dettori his only royal winner at Royal Ascot to date.
There was a select field of seven fillies in the Ribblesdale that day. Drawn one, Phantom Gold chased the leaders for the first two furlongs and remained prominent throughout. Dettori took it up more than a furlong out and she ran on well to beat Irish raider Tillandsia, under Mick Kinane, for trainer David Loder, by one and a quarter lengths.
Phantom Gold went on to end her racing career in perfect style by winning the Geoffrey Freer Stakes in the following year, at the age of four.
Free Agent, 2008 winner
Free Agent, trained by Richard Hannon Snr and ridden by Richard Hughes, ended a nine-year Royal Ascot drought for The Queen that stretched back to the 1999 victory of Blueprint in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes.
The 2008 Chesham Stakes winner triumphed in what was only his second career start, taking The Queen’s Royal Ascot winners tally to 20.
Free Agent produced a battling success in the seven-furlong contest. Held up in the rear in the early stages, the 7/2 joint favourite stormed from last to first to win by two and a quarter lengths from his fellow market leader, Seaway.
Estimate, 2012 and 2013 winner
Photo courtesy of Ascot Racecourse/Getty.
Perhaps the most famous of all The Queen’s Royal Ascot winners is Estimate, the first horse to give a reigning monarch victory in the Gold Cup.
In 2012, the filly had taken the Queen’s Vase. Then, the following year, again ridden by Ryan Moore and trained by Sir Michael Stoute, this daughter of Monsun spiritedly fought off her competitors in the most prestigious race of the week.
Turning into the final straight, Moore pushed Estimate to the front and despite being challenged by Simenon and Top Trip, the mare, foaled in 2009, held on by a neck to land the blue riband event in a near-photo finish.
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