HM The Queen - Racing's Greatest Patron

Features | 13th September 2022

Queen Elizabeth II was racing’s greatest supporter.

Her love of the sport was clear for all to see

As an owner she was twice champion – in 1954 and 1957 – and she was a hugely knowledgeable breeder. Above all, she was a horse lover and racing fan. 

She was known to start her day by reading the racing press coverage and she kept a keen eye on the action on television when her busy schedule allowed. 

Her Majesty, of course, was a regular visitor to racecourses. It was only in truly exceptional circumstances that she would miss the Derby and her presence at the head of the Royal procession was as much a part of Royal Ascot as the racing itself. It was at Flat racing’s greatest meeting that she enjoyed one of her most memorable moments when Estimate won the Gold Cup, the big race of the week, in 2013. 


A Rich History In The Sport

Monaveen, owned jointly with her mother, had given Her Majesty her very first winner at Fontwell Park in 1949 when still Princess Elizabeth. It was the start of a love affair with horseracing that was to continue right up to her death. 

She inherited much of her interest from her father. On the death of King George VI she took over the running of the Royal bloodstock interests. Her famous purple, scarlet and black colours with gold braid and tassel were carried to great success by some of racing’s finest horses. 

She won four of the five British Classics. Carrozza landed the 1957 Oaks, Pall Mall won the 2000 Guineas a year later and Highclere was successful in the fillies version of the Newmarket Classic when taking 1000 Guineas glory in 1974. 

A further two Classics were added when Dunfermline, possibly the best horse she owned and bred, won both the Oaks and St Leger in 1977 for trainer Dick Hern and jockey Willie Carson. It was a fitting way for Her Majesty to celebrate her love of racing in the year of her Silver Jubilee. 

Unmatched Longevity

Through all her success the Derby remained elusive. She came closest to landing the greatest Classic of them all when Aureole finished second behind Pinza – jockey Sir Gordon Richards’ only Derby winner – at Epsom in 1953. Aureole went on to win the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes – the Ascot race named after her parents – the following year. 

More recently, Carlton House won the Brigadier Gerard Stakes a year after finishing third in the 2011 Derby, while Dartmouth won Royal Ascot’s Hardwicke Stakes and the Yorkshire Cup in the Royal colours. 

King’s Lynn was to be her last big-race winner when landing the Group 2 Temple Stakes at Haydock in May. The victory came just a few weeks before she celebrated her Platinum Jubilee for 70 years as reigning monarch. 


A Huge Loss For The Sport

Her Majesty clearly derived immense pleasure from watching her horses race but she seemed even more content among the mares and foals at the Royal studs. It was her love of horses that had led her to become interested in racing in the first place. She was also a keen and skilled rider throughout her life. 

Racing, like the rest of the nation, mourns the death of our longest serving monarch. The sport owes her a huge debt of gratitude and it will miss her terribly.