The Queen and Royal Ascot: When the Diamond Jubilee Royal Ascot of 2012 was lit up by Estimate’s win in the Queen’s Vase, who would have thought that 12 months later, The Queen’s filly would be back to etch her name onto the greatest Ascot roll of honour by winning the Gold Cup.
That emotional moment was the highlight of a memorable week for both The Queen and Royal Ascot, and thousands of racegoers cheered from the moment winning jockey Ryan Moore saluted the Royal Box to the presentation of the trophy to The Queen, which she received from her son, The Duke of York.
Estimate provided The Queen’s 22nd Royal Ascot winner.
The Queen and Royal Ascot go back a long way, but the last few years have been something of a golden period for The Queen as an owner as, in addition to Estimate’s double, her Carlton House was second to the great former Australian-trained So You Think in the 2012 Prince of Wales’s Stakes.
The Queen’s previous Royal Ascot winner had come on the final day of the 2008 meeting when Free Agent came from a seemingly impossible position to win the Chesham Stakes, ending a blank period stretching back to 1999.
The Queen’s involvement with racing began in 1952 and her first winner, Monaveen, owned jointly with her mother, won a humble Fontwell jumps race.
Upon the death of her father, King George VI, The Queen inherited the Royal string of Flat horses, which at the time were mainly trained by Cecil Boyd-Rochford and Noel Murless. It didn’t take long for her first top horse to come along.
Aureole, by the great Hyperion, was second to Pinza in the 1953 Derby and he must rank as one of The Queen’s best horses, with victories in the 1954 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Hardwicke Stakes. Aureole went on to be champion sire in Britain.
The Queen’s first Royal Ascot success came when Choir Boy landed the 1953 Royal Hunt Cup, one of 11 successes during the 1950s, with others including 1957 Ribblesdale Stakes winner Almeria, who went on to finish second in the King George, and Pall Mall, who took the 1957 New Stakes en route to victory in the 2,000 Guineas the following year.
The 1960s were a quieter time for The Queen and Royal Ascot, although Aiming High landed the 1961 Coronation Stakes and Hopeful Venture the 1968 Hardwicke Stakes.
But The Queen’s racing fortunes returned in the 1970s, helped by the brilliant Dick Hern-trained filly Highclere, who won the 1,000 Guineas and French Oaks in 1974 before finishing second to Dahlia in that year’s King George.
As Silver Jubilee celebrations were being held throughout the land in 1977, a filly came along that would ensure a year of tremendous success for the Royal colours, with Dunfermline winning both the Oaks and St Leger.
THE QUEEN’S 90TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS AT ROYAL ASCOT
2016 marked the 90th birthday of The Queen and in celebration, the following took place at Royal Ascot that year:
- The Gold Cup was renamed ‘The Gold Cup in honour of The Queen’s 90th Birthday’.
- An aerial photo from Royal Ascot 1926, the year the Queen was born, was displayed (on the video wall).
- Information on The Queen’s winners was displayed in the Windsor Enclosure.
- Weekly Royal Enclosure badges were themed with The Queen’s racing colours.
- The owers across site, including the Royal Box Parade Ring Balcony, were inspired by The Queen’s colours.
- The Official Royal Ascot Magazine celebrated The Queen’s 90th Birthday with features on her Royal Ascot runners and her outfits over the years. These also appeared in the Royal Ascot racecards on each day of the Royal Meeting.
2016 GOLD CUP HONOURED THE QUEEN’S 90TH BIRTHDAY
The 2016 renewal of The Gold Cup was run as, The Gold Cup in Honour of The Queen’s 90th Birthday. Johnny Weatherby, Her Majesty’s Representative at Ascot, said: “We are delighted to be celebrating The Queen’s 90th birthday in the race title of The Gold Cup. The Gold Cup, recently won of course by The Queen herself, is the historic centrepiece of Royal Ascot, and is very much the race which resonates most with the public.”