How the Queen changed the world of horse racing

A life-long love affair with horses: How the late Queen’s infectious passion for a day at the races – including her famous 1953 Epsom Derby win – ignited Britain’s passion for the sport

  • The Queen was a crucial factor in the huge growth of equestrianism in Britain
  • She has since attracted widespread interest and global investment in the sport
  • She known throughout the world as an expert racehorse owner and breeder

For generation after generation, Royal Family members have shared their profound passion for horses, and talents for equestrianism.

There was no more passionate a rider and spectator that the late Queen, who died at Balmoral on Thursday at the age of 96, and our departed monarch might be credited with bringing the delights of a day out at the races to the masses. 

The monarch’s love of horses and racing sparked a huge growth in equestrianism in Britain and she gained respect as a breeder when her horse came second in the Epsom Derby.

Her Majesty’s golden era as a racehorse owner was in 1953, her coronation year, when her beloved horse Aureole came second to Pinza, the closest the Queen ever came to winning the Derby. 

The Queen, who died on September 8th aged 96, sparked a huge love affair with equestrian in the UK, thanks to her own talents as both a rider and a breeder (The Queen riding her horse Burmese at Trooping the Colour in 1969)

Even in the twilight of her life, the Queen was able to keep riding her beloved steeds; pictured in 2015 riding in the grounds at Windsor

The Queen became patron of many organisations focused on horses, including the British Horse Society, the Fell Pony Society and the Highland Pony Society (Pictured: The Queen standing beside two of her favourite fell ponies, Bybeck Nightingale and Bybeck Katie, in April 2022)

Her Majesty – and other royals since – attracted widespread interest and global investment in the sport, while her attendance on racedays excited spectators and created immensely special occasions for British racing. 

The lead given by the royal family and Elizabeth’s passion for horses was a crucial factor in the huge growth of riding as a popular sport in the UK after the deprivations of World War II. 

There was no guarantee that equestrianism in Britain would survive the post-war years of economic austerity. 

She became the patron of many organisations focused on horses, including the British Horse Society, the Fell Pony Society and the Highland Pony Society. 

Elizabeth, known throughout the world as a racehorse owner and breeder of true expertise, celebrated her love for the animals by dedicating life-size statues to two of her horses in Windsor. 

She has since attracted widespread interest and global investment in the sport, while her attendance on racedays continues to excite spectators and create immensely special occasions for British racing (pictured at Royal Ascot 2017) 

The Queen’s love of horse racing resulted in her becoming inducted into the QIPCO British Champions Series Hall of Fame in the Special Contributor Category.

She was awarded the honour due to her unwavering and lifelong dedication to the sport in the last eight decades.  

John Warren, who oversees all of the monarch’s racing and horse breeding interests, said at the time that the recognition would be the source of a ‘lot of inner pride’ for the Queen.

The late monarch became the first person to gain membership of the QIPCO British Champions Series Hall of Fame within the Special Contributor category after being chosen by an independent panel of industry experts for her outstanding contribution.  

Her Majesty’s fondness of horses began when she was just four after her grandfather, King George V, gave her a little Shetland pony. 

A lady-in-waiting taking the then Princess Elizabeth and her younger sister Princess Margaret on a visit to Pets Corner at London Zoo in 1937

The Royal Windsor Horse Show was a highlight of Her Majesty’s annual calendar. The Queen is pictured talking to riders at the Windsor Horse Show in the 1970s

Mr Warren, the Queen’s bloodstock and racing adviser, said at the time: ‘The Queen’s contribution to racing and breeding derives from a lifelong commitment. Her love of horses and their welfare comes with a deep understanding of what is required to breed, rear, train and ride a thoroughbred.’  

The Queen had an encyclopedic knowledge of the bloodlines of the horses she bred at The Royal Stud in Sandringham. Her famous purple, gold braid and scarlet colours have recorded more than 1,800 winners since her first victory with Monaveen at Fontwell Park in 1949.

In 2021, she recorded more winners than she did in 1957 when she was British flat racing’s Champion Owner.  

Her Majesty’s entry in the Hall of Fame read: ‘The Queen’s lifetime love of horses has never diminished, with her devotion as a passionate fan, an owner, breeder and ambassador unwavering.’

It described her as a ‘treasured figurehead’ who ‘has been part of racing’s fabric for as long as anyone can remember’.

It also references the monarch’s personal view on racing which she shared in a 1974 BBC documentary.

The Queen said: ‘My philosophy about racing is simple. I enjoy breeding a horse that is faster than other people’s. And to me, that is a gamble from a long way back.’    

By the age of six she had fallen in love with riding, becoming an accomplished equestrian in her teenage years and has continued to ride for pleasure throughout her life.

Author Sir Michael Morpurgo revealed how the ‘life-changing’ childhood gift from her grandfather sparked Her Majesty’s love of horses which has spanned a lifetime.

In 2021, Queen Elizabeth was inducted into the official hall of fame for British flat racing (The Queen at he Royal Windsor Horse Show in May 2016)

The Queen beams as she examines her trophy after her horse Stardust III won at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in May 2014 

The former children’s laureate, 78, discovered what had sparked Her Majesty’s love for horses during a lunch in 2016 and told the Sunday Times how she spoke ‘very movingly’ about the animal.  

‘She told me how it was to walk down to the yard and there was this horse and she would reach up and touch the neck’, he said.

The renowned author went on: ‘Those were the words she used. She talked very, very movingly about her love for this horse. This was a life-changing moment. From that moment on, horses were going to be part of her life.’

Elizabeth has also developed a keen interest in the breeding of thoroughbreds for horse racing.

From her first appearance at the annual Trooping the Colour to 1986, the monarch would attend the ceremony on horseback.

She first attended the Royal Windsor Horse Show as a horse-mad teenager in 1943. Together with Princess Margaret, the 17-year-old showed off her equestrian prowess by winning the Pony & Dogcart class.

Averaging nine wins per year, the Queen (pictured with her winning horse Estimate at Royal Ascot in June 2013) had an impressive win ratio of 16.1 per cent across both flat and jump racing across the last three decades

She secured her first win as an owner when Choir Boy won the Royal Hunt Cup in 1953. 

The Queen owned several thoroughbreds for racing after she initially inherited King George’s breeding and racing stock following his death in February 1952.

In 1974, the monarch’s interest in horses was the subject of a documentary title, The Queen’s Race Horses: a Private View, which she herself narrated.

A documentary about Her Majesty’s love for the animal The Queen: a Passion for Horses was released in 2013, as part of the 60th Anniversary Coronation celebrations. 

Among the highlights of the Queen’s calendar was the Royal Windsor Horse Show, an event that celebrated her love of the animal and was made even more special because it was held in the ‘back garden’ of Windsor Castle.

The Queen was one of the most successful horse race owners in the history of the Royal Family. 

At the time of her death, she’d won 534 races from 3,205 runs over time as racehorse owner and it is thought she made £7.7million from her hobby over the last 31 years. 

Source: Read Full Article