Her Majesty the Queen and her love for racehorses


Lucy Procter looks back at The Queen’s lifelong love of horseracing, and her success in the breeding yard

In September the Thoroughbred racing and breeding industry lost its foremost patron with the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
The Queen’s long association with the sport began with her first runner Astrakhan on 7th October 1949. Her first winner, Monaveen, was just three days later. Her final winner, Love Affairs, was at Goodwood on 6th September, just two days prior to her death.
Her horses collectively won 1,121 races – 14 Group/Grade 1 wins, four Classics, and she was Champion Owner twice.

The height of fashion
Possibly not so well known was her success as a breeder. Her Majesty’s first notable breeding success was in 1958, when her home bred colt Pall Mall won the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket and went on to win two consecutive runnings of the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.
In the 1970s, the Queen bred two dual classic winners. Firstly, the filly Highclere, won the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket and then went to Chantilly in France to win the Prix de Diane (French Oaks).
In 1977, the Queen’s Silver Jubilee year, the filly Dunfermline won The Oaks at Epsom and the St Leger at Doncaster – the latter race making Dunfermline the only horse to defeat the great Alleged.
Probably the crowning achievement of Her Majesty’s breeding operation was a daughter of Highclere, named Height of Fashion. As a two-year-old, the filly won several top races, including the now Group 1 Fillies Mile at Newmarket and The Princess of Wales Stakes as a three-year-old.
It was as a broodmare, however, that Height of Fashion really excelled. She was the dam of the 2,000 Guineas and Derby winning colt Nashwan, the Group 1 winning colt Nayef and the talented multiple Group winning Unfuwain. The irony for Her Majesty was that she had sold Height of Fashion at the end of her racing career to Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, a member of Dubai’s ruling family.
One of the best examples of The Queen’s utter delight in horse racing was when her filly, Estimate – a gift from another prominent owner/breeder, The Aga Khan – won the premier Group 1 race at Royal Ascot, The Gold Cup in 2013. The Queen’s joyous celebrations in the Royal Box were beamed live to television viewers around the world (see video above).

The tradition continues
The Royal connection with racing continues, with His Majesty King Charles’ first runner, Educator, on 29th September, who finished second at Salisbury and his first winner being Just Fine at Leicester on 4th October.


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