Her Majesty the Queen was involved in one of sport’s great moments when her filly Estimate won the Gold Cup, traditionally the most prestigious race at Royal Ascot, on Thursday 20th June 2013.
The Group One race, Europe’s premier long-distance event, had never been won by a monarch in its 206-year history, but Estimate lined up as 7/2 favourite and in a driving finish under jockey Ryan Moore held off Irish raider Simenon and France’s Top Trip. A gift to The Queen from the Aga Khan, she scored by a neck and a length, becoming Her Majesty’s 22nd winner at the Royal meeting.
Accompanied by her racing and bloodstock advisor, John Warren, The Queen was given a rapturous welcome when she joined her daughter, the Princess Royal, and the filly’s trainer, Sir Michael Stoute, in the winner’s enclosure. Expected to present the trophy to the winner of the race, Her Majesty instead received it from her second son, The Duke of York.
Moore said: “She won well, and to do it for The Queen is fantastic. To win the Gold Cup in her colours is exceptional. We had a good draw and gained a good early position, and because she relaxes so well you’re able to keep her there. Most horses that you’re not sure about staying you have to drop in, but because she relaxes that’s not a problem. She was always holding the others when they came at her.”
Sir Michael said: “It’s a great thrill, but I certainly wasn’t confident. Her preparation has gone well and she is bred to get the trip, but she had to up her game to beat the boys. I was trying to be realistic.
“It’s a special thrill to win this race for The Queen, and it will have given her enormous pleasure – she really loves this game and it’s a great recreation for her. She told me it was a very big thrill and thanked everybody involved.
“I kept very calm in the final furlong because I was very worried. I felt she would beat the grey horse of Godolphin’s [Colour Vision, last year’s winner who led into the home straight], but then she had another battle with Simenon, and I really thought he might beat her. It was a tense and very long final furlong.”
Later, at a press conference, Sir Michael said: “This rates as highly as anything, and I know the pleasure it will have given The Queen because she has such a love for her breeding programme, and that’s why it will have been a bigger thrill to win with a filly, rather than a colt.
“Great teamwork went behind this filly, because sometimes she can be a pain in the arse. The girl who rides her every day, Michelle, and Kerry the head lass and Kirstie who led her up have put a lot of hard work in to get her relaxed. I always felt it was a massive task because she had to up her game from the Sagaro Stakes [which she won at Ascot on 1 May] but her preparation had gone extremely well. She likes this place – they’ll have to frame more races for her here.
“Things have gone very smoothly – as a trainer you walk the box when horses have had a setback and get behind schedule, and there are doubts about whether they can run. Trip-wise their had to be doubts, but the distaff side of her pedigree screams extreme stamina and her half-brother won the Gold Cup [Enzeli in 1999].
“She’s full of guts, very courageous and she relaxes so well in races which makes her a good staying filly. She’ll have a rest now because she’s had a very hard race. We’ve given her time between races in the past and looked after her, and now she’s looking after us – I could make a case for her getting better.
“This win is very high on my list, because it’s been done for a lady who, never mind being The Queen, loves racing, is a great supporter of racing and is so good for British racing.”