Queen Elizabeth II: Her Majesty’s best racehorses and horseracing memories
Queen Elizabeth II enjoyed horseracing and had incredible success. The only major UK race she failed to win was The Epsom Derby.
Queen Elizabeth II was a lifelong supporter of the sport and also enjoyed riding horses. Her Majesty typically appeared at Royal Ascot earlier in June. The most notable wins for her at that venue were Phantom Gold in 1995 and the Gold Cup with Estimate in 2013.
A beautiful guard of honour was formed to celebrate The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. In addition, the Queen’s colours were celebrated during this year’s Derby. The highlight was 40 past and present jockeys coming together for a spectacular display.
Sadly, Queen Elizabeth has passed away.
What Queen Elizabeth meant to the equine world
Having Queen Elizabeth as a staunch ally to Sport of Kings, kept horse racing in the public eye and maintained the aura of elegance.
Queen Elizabeth II – best horses through the years
Let’s take a look at the top horses that have belonged to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
At the start of The Queen’s reign, her first superstar, Aureole, came close to winning the 1953 Derby.
Aureole was a green two-year-old who grew into a spectacular three-year-old. The colt won the Linfield Derby, then ran an excellent race to be second at Epsom, only denied by Gordon Richards on Pinza, the favourite.
At four years old, he had unparalleled success, comfortably winning the Coronation Cup at Epsom. He then went on to claim the Hardwicke Stakes for his trainer Cecil Boyd-Rochfort, only just beating French colt Janitor.
Aureole unseated his rider en route to the start of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Horse and jockey made a miraculous comeback though, defeating Darius in his final race before retiring.
Her Majesty’s first Classic winner was Carrozza, who gradually improved from a mediocre two-year-old start to his career.
The horse won the 1000 Guineas and ended up coming fourth in the Classic. But he made amends by winning the Classic at Epsom when the brilliant Lester Piggott was in the saddle.
Piggott and Carrozza hung on in a tight finish to win The Oaks, making Her Majesty the year’s top owner of horses in Great Britain.
Doutelle, despite not winning as many accolades as Carrozza, is the first large stakes winner to be bred by The Queen.
Doutelle was an incredibly consistent horse, winning the Derby Trial and the Ormonde Stakes, plus he placed in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Gold Cup.
The Queen was asked to list her five favourite racehorses. Her answer? Doutelle, Aureole, Highclere, Phantom Gold and Estimate.
Doutelle was retired to Sandringham Stud (owned by the monarchy), where his stallion career was sadly cut short a few years later.
In 1958, the shock 2000 Guineas winner was Pall Mall. Under Doug Smith, this Cecil Boyd-Rochfort colt was her Majesty’s first home-bred Classic winner.
Following the New Stakes win at Royal Ascot, he had to wait until his victory in the Classic Trial at Thirsk to get back into the winner’s enclosure.
Then, running in the Newmarket Classic, he delivered with his odds at 20/1. He would then win the Lockinge Stakes, something he did again in 1959.
Pall Mall was awarded the highest possible ratings by Timeform and retired at the end of his four-year-old season.
Highclere was a true champion in racing with an equally impressive family legacy.
Trained by Dick Hern, she was one of Her Majesty’s two classic winners of the 1970s. She prevailed by a whisker in the 1000 Guineas under pilot Joe Mercer for trainer Dick Hern.
Highclere was expected to have a go at the Oaks but headed to the French equivalent instead and won with The Queen in attendance.
Highclere was an excellent broodmare, and as such, she produced several well-known horses, including Height of Fashion, who produced 2000 Guineas and Derby winner Nashwan.
Dunfermline was a popular winner of both the Oaks and St Leger in 1977. The second dual Classic winner for The Queen in the decade, it won in her Majesty’s Silver Jubilee year.
Even though she didn’t win when she was two, Dunfermline easily won the Pretty Polly Stakes when she came back from the off-season. She also won the Epsom Classic by three-quarters of a length, which showed that she was an exceptional filly.
Alleged was expected to take the St Leger, but Dunfermline beat him in an extended duel on the Doncastle turf.
Queen Elizabeth was also in attendence when Dunfermline, ridden by Willie Carson, barely held on to a narrow victory over Freeze the Secret.
Height Of Fashion
Height Of Fashion is notable for her racing accomplishments during and after her career as a broodmare.
She was unbeaten as a two-year-old, triumphing in the Acomb Stakes, May Hill Stakes, and the Fillies’ Mile. Then she won the Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket the following year.
Height OF Fashion later proved an excellent broodmare, birthing champion race horses like Nashwan and Ghanaati.
At Royal Ascot in 1995, Frankie Dettori guided Her Majesty’s Phantom Gold to victory in the Ribblesdale Stakes for trainer Lord Huntingdon, a career highlight for the jockey.
She upset Oaks runner-up Dance A Dream on that occasion. Later that year, ahewent on to win the St. Simon Stakes at Newbury.
In the Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury, Dettori’s second and last victory on Phantom Gold came before she was officially retired to breeding.
Aureole finished runner-up in the Derby, but Carlton House was perhaps closer to delivering victory to Her Majesty in the prestigious flat race.
The Royal runner, who Sir Michael Stoute trained, had a lot of hopes after winning the Dante Stakes at York in 2011. This race was widely seen as the best way to prepare for the Epsom Classic.
It was one of the most famous Derbys in recent years – won by Pour Moi and Mickael Barzalona, who stood up in the saddle in ecstacy. Carlton House was the favourite going into the race and challenged up the straightaway, but was passed late on and could only finish third.
Later, he won the Brigadier Gerard Stakes. Then, he was sent to Gai Waterhouse in Australia, where he lost the Group One Ranvet Stakes by a narrow margin.
Two years after Carlton House almost won, Sir Michael Stoute and Ryan Moore worked together again. This time, they won the Ascot Gold Cup at the Royal Meeting for Her Majesty, a race she had never won before 2013.
Estimate showed that he could stay when winning the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot in 2012. He also did well in the Glorious Goodwood and Doncaster Cups.
And that was proven the following year when he won the Ascot Gold Cup by a narrow margin in front of the happy monarch. Her Majesty then went into the winner’s enclosure to greet the horse and pick up the trophy. A special moment indeed.
Dartmouth didn’t have an inspiring start to his racing career. He won three handicaps as a three-year-old but quickly became a star stayer in 2016, winning the Ormonde Stakes and then the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot under Olivier Peslier.
Dartmouth won the 2017 Yorkshire Cup while Ryan Moore was riding him. This was his last race before he went to stud.
The Queen’s 24th and most recent Royal Ascot winner was Tactical, who won the Windsor Castle Stakes in 2020. This was 67 years after her first win at the event. Tactical was trained by Andrew Balding and rode by James Doyle.
Queen Elizabeth II – a rolemodel for all horseracing enthusiasts
Remembering Queen Elizabeth II
More than a monarch, Queen Elizabeth II was a uniting figure in a fractured country. No doubt the Royal Family will continue to support horseracing, but one could be forgiven for thinking that the golden era of UK equine sport ended with the sad passing of the legendary lady.
With wit, humour and enthusiasm, her Majesty always made horseracing something larger than life. She will sorely be missed.