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Six of the best: The Queen’s horses
21 Apr 2017
As one of racing's biggest fans - Her Majesty, The Queen - turns 91, we take a look at some of her best-ever horses
Ever since she was a youngster, Queen Elizabeth II has had a passion for horses. From ponies up to thoroughbreds, The Queen has been a massive supporter of equine disciplines – culminating in her ownership and breeding of many thoroughbreds. Such is her passion for the sport that plenty of races are now named after her, including the prestigious Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on QIPCO British Champions Day.
It has also been a successful passion for her, with the Derby at Epsom the only Classic race to elude her. She’s had some superstars run in her famous silks in the past, and we take a look at six of the best.
DUNFERMLINE (foaled in 1974)
In 1977, the year of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, the Queen’s filly Dunfermline was intent on helping the party year go with a swing. She won the Oaks at Epsom in June and then, in the autumn, gained a second Classic triumph in the St Leger at Doncaster, at the principal expense of dual Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Alleged.
The pair had quite a tussle but it was Her Majesty’s pride and joy, ridden by Willie Carson, who prevailed by a one-and-a-half-length margin.
Dunfermline, trained by Major Dick Hern, won only one of her other ten starts but, on the days that really counted, was faultless.
Timeform described her as a “great” Oaks winner and awarded her a rating of 133.
AUREOLE (foaled 1950)
If Dunfermline was the greatest filly the Queen owned, then Aureole was surely her best colt.
He is best remembered for finishing runner-up in the 1953 Derby, behind Pinza, and in the process coming closer than any other horse to giving the Queen victory in the race.
However, he enjoyed plenty of days in the sun and excelled as a four-year-old when his big-race victories included the Coronation Cup, Hardwicke Stakes and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Aureole was trained by Cecil Boyd-Rochfort at Freemason Lodge stables at Newmarket. The colt was said to be temperamental and excitable, but it did not stop him achieving great heights.
PALL MALL (foaled in 1955)
The chestnut was bred by the Queen and became a top-notch miler.
Trained in Newmarket by Cecil Boyd-Rochfort, Pall Mall landed the 2000 Guineas under Doug Smith in 1958 when a 20-1 chance. He showed that was no fluke by going on to win the Lockinge the same year, and again in 1959.
Unfortunately, Her Majesty missed being at his Classic triumph because of illness.
In total, he won half of his 14 races, signing off his career with victory in the Midsummer Stakes at Newmarket’s July meeting.
HIGHCLERE (foaled in 1971)
Named after the castle that belonged to the Queen’s racing manager, Highclere was a top-notch filly who won the 1000 Guineas and French Oaks before going onto to become an outstanding broodmare.
Based in West Ilsley, Berkshire, with trainer Dick Hern, the filly’s first appearance of the 1974 season came in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket. In a gripping finish, Her Majesty’s filly won by a narrow margin to provide her with a second fillies’ Classic victory – 17 years after Carrozza.
Success in France followed and then, once retired to the paddocks, she produced Height of Fashion, would go on to be the dam of 2000 Guineas and Derby winner Nashwan, plus multiple Group race winner Nayef.
ESTIMATE (foaled in 2009)
Estimate’s victory in the 2013 Gold Cup, at Royal Ascot, illustrated vividly how much racing means to Her Majesty. TV pictures were beamed around the world, showing her delight as Estimate prevailed in a stirring finish under Ryan Moore.
The Sir Michael Stoute-trained filly was an eightieth birthday present from the Aga Khan, and turned out to be one of her best horses. Winner of the Queen’s Vase Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2012, Her Majesty’s ambition to win the staying showpiece became a reality 12 months later.
Estimate’s victory was the first time the Gold Cup had been won by the reigning monarch.
Estimate finished second in the Gold Cup the following year, but was later disqualified. She also won the Doncaster Cup in 2013.