The Queen and the Turf: A Lifetime Love of Horse Racing

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Apr. 16 2024, Published 6:40 a.m. ET

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On April 13, 2024, as Paul Townend rode I Am Maximus to Grand National glory at Aintree Racecourse and thousands of people checked their horse racing betting apps to see if they had won, one could not help reminiscing about our late Queen, Queen Elizabeth II. Not only was Queen Elizabeth II's reign the longest in British history, at over 70 years, it was intertwined with the world of horse racing. Her passion for horses was more than a hobby; it was a lifelong dedication to these magnificent creatures that shaped her personal life and left an indelible mark on equestrian sports.

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A Royal Affair: Growing Up With Horses

Queen Elizabeth II developed a deep connection with horses from an early age. Queen Elizabeth II was gifted a Shetland pony named Peggy at the age of only four, and her

love for horses blossomed. Her father, King George VI, shared her passion for horses, and they spent countless hours riding and caring for them.

During the 1981 Trooping of the Colour ceremony, 17-year-old Marcus Sarjeant fired six shots at Queen Elizabeth II while she was riding her horse, Burmese. Thankfully, the shots were blanks, and the Queen was unharmed. The national press praised the Queen's composure and skill in controlling her mount. Our Queen was more than an equestrian enthusiast; she was a skilled rider with an affinity and respect for anyone who mounted a horse.

The Royal Stables: Horses in Her Majesty's Ownership

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Queen Elizabeth II was not content with attending horse racing as a spectator. She wanted to be an integral part of the sport and participated in breeding and owning thoroughbreds under her name. Throughout her reign, Queen Elizabeth II owned several racehorses, each bearing the regal stamp of her royal stable. Her horses, identifiable by their iconic purple, gold, and scarlet silks, the same colors her father and great-grandfather used, achieved remarkable success on the track, thanks to the Queen's knowledgeable approach and meticulous attention to detail.

Aureole was the first thoroughbred the Queen owned. Bred by her father and trained by Sir Cecil Boyd-Rochfort, Aureole's ownership passed to Queen Elizabeth II following King George VI's death in 1952. An excitable and temperamental steed, Aureole was challenging to train and race. Still, he captured the hearts of racing enthusiasts with his impressive performances and the fact that he was intrinsically linked to Her Majesty.

Dunfermline was a filly the Queen raced in the late 1970s. In 1977, Dunfermline achieved the rare feat of winning both the Epsom Oaks and the St. Leger Stakes. This dual classic triumph cemented Queen Elizabeth II's status as a formidable force in the horse racing world while earning Dunfermline a place in horse racing history.

The Queen received Estimate as part of her 80th birthday celebrations, and Estimate became one of Her Majesty's most successful horses. Among Estimate's victories were triumphs in the Queen's Vase (2012), the Sagaro Stakes (2013), the Ascot Gold Cup (2013), and the Doncaster Cup (2014). Estimate's victory at the prestigious Ascot Gold Cup was the first monarch-owned horse to win the race in over a century.

It is estimated that Queen Elizabeth II's horses have won more than 1,600 races since she ascended the throne in 1952, making her one of the industry's most successful owners and breeders.

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Adding Royal Flair at Prestigious Meets

The Queen's enthusiasm for horse racing was not confined to the breeding paddocks. She was a regular attendee at prestigious race meets, often flanked alongside other royal family members, resplendent in her colorful attire and iconic hate. Her Majesty's appearance was the highlight of each event, adding a touch of royal grandeur, and the winning jockeys were honored to meet the Queen, who personally congratulated them after the race.

Royal Ascot held a special place in Queen Elizabeth II's heart. A highlight of the British social calendar, the Queen's arrival in a horse-drawn carriage traditionally marked the start of the meeting. The Queen attended every Roal Ascot during her reign, except for the 2022 edition, the year of her sad passing.

Although Royal Ascot was Queen Elizabeth II's favorite race meeting, she regularly attended the historic Epsom Derby. She rarely missed the "Race of the Roses," while Glorious Goodwood on the Sussex Downs was another favorite of the Queen.

A Lasting Legacy: Inspiring Generations

The Queen's love for horses went beyond the thrill of victory. She found solace and enjoyment in their company and regularly spent time with them away from the racecourse.

Horse racing was more than a sport for the Queen; it was a deep-rooted passion that provided a welcome respite from her royal duties. It was a world where she could be a breeder, a competitor, and an enthusiast, all while maintaining her signature dignity and grace.

Queen Elizabeth II showed unwavering support for the sport throughout her reign, leaving an indelible mark on the racing community. Her passion for horse racing is a source of inspiration for generations to come. Her dedication to these magnificent animals and the sport they represent reflects her deep-seated love for excellence, traditions, and the timeless allure of the turf.

In the grand tapestry of her reign, Queen Elizabeth II's love of horse racing shines as a beacon of royal passion and sporting prowess. She was a true horse lover who found a deep connection and joy in the company of these magnificent creatures. Horse racing bitterly misses Her Majesty, and the world misses her dearly. However, one cannot help but have a wry smile whenever one of the horse racing majors takes place because it reminds us of how incredible our Queen was and the joy and happiness she brought to so many. May God rest her soul.



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