THE QUEEN was never happier than on the racetrack.
During her 70-year reign, sport was her one true love away from serious things.
Every free minute she spent poring over the form and studying the bloodlines of her horses. Nothing got past her, neither on nor off the track.
Whether Her Majesty was with a trainer, fellow breeder or jockey, she always felt comfortable around those who were in the sport.
On rare occasions, even if only slightly, she has been able to let her hair down.
She was known to crack a joke and even mimic some trainers’ accent when calling them.
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I’m not sure if anyone has dared to do it back!
She had walked many stars in her famous purple and gold silks over the decades.
Royal Ascot winners like Estimate and Classic heroine Dunfermline were the standouts. But she loved her low-handicappers as much as she loved her Group 1 superstars.
It was each horse’s personality and quirks that she loved more than anything else.
At the time of her death she had a total of 43 horses in training. These were based on both the jumps and the flat with coaches across the country.
Those closest to her racing operations have paid emotional tributes to her since her death.
But perhaps Her Majesty’s own words over the years sum up her love of the game and the impact she’s had on it better than anyone.
Her Majesty on her earliest racing memories
“I suppose I first became interested in racing during the war when my father leased Big Game and Sun Chariot from the National Stud. My father took me to Beckhampton in 1942 to see her at work, which I had never seen before, and I was able to pet her in the stable afterwards. I had never felt the silky smoothness of a Thoroughbred before. It’s a wonderful feeling.”
The Queen would certainly have liked to race more often, as she proved here with a joke
“If it weren’t for my Archbishop of Canterbury, I would fly to Longchamp on my plane every Sunday.”
The Queen left no stone unturned when it came to breeding the best
“My racing philosophy is simple. I enjoy breeding a horse that is faster than other people’s. I like racing, but basically I love horses.”
She came mighty close, but Her Majesty never achieved her Epsom Derby dream
“For me, a Thoroughbred embodies a really good horse. My special hope for the future, like all horse breeders, is to breed the winner of the Derby.”
Her Majesty’s humor is once again on display after a visit to Richard Hannon Sr.’s garden
It’s one of the few places I go that doesn’t smell like fresh paint!
As always, the Queen took her high-profile defeats in the best way possible. Aureole ran in the Derby just four days after her coronation
“It was very exciting to own a horse so quickly that it ran in the Derby but Aureole ruined his chance in the parade. And you really shouldn’t be sad not to have won because after all, Sir Gordon Richards had won his derby.”
The Queen was quick to put Phillip in his place after he said her horses looked too skinny in Ian Balding’s stable
“If you only knew, this is what a fit racehorse should look like!”
Perhaps Her Majesty’s most famous racing manager was Lord Carnarvon
“My race director and I were arguing about the importance of breeding and past influence. It was a lot of fun. And now that we put him in charge, we have even more arguments and even more fun.”
It just can’t be said that the Queen didn’t love the sport. She wrote to jockey Joe Mercer after he led her home bred Highclere home in the 1974 1000 Guineas at Newmarket.
“For once I can’t remember the race because of the excitement, but I know a home bred Guineas Champion has long given me more joy than anything else.”
Her Majesty welcomed trainer Dick Hern and jockey Joe Mercer to a celebration in Windsor after Highclere won the Prix de Diane in France. Can you imagine her saying that to someone outside of racing?
“Come in, my warriors.”
Ryan Moore has ridden most of the winners for The Queen and Her Majesty has a special name for him. But you will never get him to admit it publicly.
“He’s my jockey.”
Estimate’s victory in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in 2012 was one of her racing highlights. Pictures of their celebrations covered the front and back covers of newspapers around the world. Royal Ascot will not be the same without them.
“Thanks to their hard work, we can look forward to many years of racing in a world-class environment. Ascot is a special place.”
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https://www.the-sun.com/sport/6248776/the-queen-racing-racehorses-estimate-highclere/ The Queen’s love of racing in her own words as millions prepare to watch the funeral around the world