The Queen at 90: her life in racing


The Queen leads in Carrozza (Lester Piggott), her first Classic winner


AS QUEEN Elizabeth II celebrates her 90th birthday, Julian Muscat revisits some of the highlights of racing life, a constant through her six decades on the throne.

1953 Choir Boy, Royal Hunt Cup

Choir Boy was the Queen’s first winner as monarch, courtesy of his victory at Newmarket in May 1952. After that, the colt started favourite for the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot but finished tailed off.

However, Choir Boy redeemed himself 12 months later when he won the Royal Hunt Cup. The cup is one of two Royal Ascot trophies the Queen still presents annually; the other is the Gold Cup. Choir Boy thus became Her Majesty’s first winner at a meeting where she has celebrated 22 to date.

Dunfermline Wins The Leger

Dunfermline (Willie Carson) wiins the St Leger in 1977


1977 Dunfermline, Oaks/St Leger

Trained by Dick Hern and ridden by Willie Carson, Dunfermline won the 1977 Oaks and St Leger, in the latter race inflicting the sole defeat Alleged, dual winner of the Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe, would suffer in his racing career.

Sadly, the Queen was not present to witness either Classic. A late plan to get her to Doncaster was thwarted when she was required to host the Prime Minister, James Callaghan, at Balmoral. And Dunfermline, her efforts plagued by poor fertility, made no impact as a broodmare.

Queen With Estimate Gold Cup

The Queen with Estimate after her dramatic success in the Gold Cup

  PICTURE: Getty  

2013 Estimate, Gold Cup

Queen Elizabeth II became the first reigning monarch to win the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot as an owner when Estimate fought tenaciously to resist Simenon in a photo-finish to the premier staying race. The scale of Estimate’s achievement is evident in the fact she was Her Majesty’s first Group 1 winner in Britain since Dunfermline had won the St Leger 36 years earlier.

As Ryan Moore dismounted from the four-year-old filly, previously winner of the Queen’s Vase at this venue, the Queen told Stoute, who trained Estimate, the Gold Cup was the race she had wanted to win above all others.

Estimate is now ensconced within the royal broodmare band and recently bequeathed her first foal, a colt by Dubawi. She is one more exciting addition to a collection of mares which now has abundant potential to revive The Royal Studs’ fortunes.

That Her Majesty undertook such a comprehensive restructuring of her bloodstock in the preamble to her tenth decade says everything about her heartfelt appreciation of racing and breeding. Happy birthday, Ma’am.


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