Horse Racing

The Queen's own sport

Crowd at the horses

However the 1960s a quieter time, with two major Royal Ascot successes achieved when Aiming High landed the 1961 Coronation Stakes and Hopeful Venture defeated the subsequent Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Vaguely Noble in the 1968 Hardwicke Stakes.

This was a period when Her Majesty's racing fortunes had begun to dwindle, due to a number of circumstances beyond her control. In the early years of her reign, racehorses that had been bred at the National Stud in Newmarket were leased to her for the duration of their racing careers. The policy had reaped great reward for the Queen, with Landau, Carrozza, Pindari and Hopeful Venture all winning big races in the famous silks.

However, in 1964 it was decided that the National Stud would no longer breed horses which put greater emphasis on Her Majesty's own breeding operations. Furthermore, from 1973 onwards it was politically inappropriate for Her Majesty to patronise Irish-based stallions which further reduced her chances of success, given the world class standing of the Irish bloodstock industry and inevitably fewer big racing occasions were graced with a Royal runner.

While the 1960s may have seen a more subdued Royal presence, the 1970s heralded a renaissance in the Queen's racing success.

Her filly Highclere became a dual Classic winner in 1974, taking the One Thousand Guineas and adding the Prix de Diane (French Oaks) later that summer.

Highclere had given little sign of her ability as a two year old but the introduction of blinkers in the spring of 1974 brought about a transformation that saw her collect the Guineas for the Queen on her first run at three, just getting the better of the future Oaks winner Polygamy in an exciting finish.

In June the filly was sent to Chantilly and duly became the first horse to win the One Thousand Guineas and French Oaks. As the winning trainer Dick Hern and jockey Joe Mercer flew back to England, the pilot relayed the message that they had been invited to dine with the Royal Family at Windsor that evening.

Highclere would later just fail to emulate Aureole's success in the King George before training off.

The Queen's next outstanding racehorse was foaled the same year that Highclere was winning Classics.

By 1977, Silver Jubilee Year, Willie Carson had replaced Joe Mercer as stable jockey to the all-powerful Dick Hern stable, making him the Royal jockey. It was a seminal year for Her Majesty who collected two Classics through the efforts of her magnificent filly Dunfermline, a horse that had been bred at the Royal stud.

Queen mother in cariage

A promising two-year-old career had seen Dunfermline place on all three starts but she served notice on her improvement on her seasonal reappearance in the Pretty Polly Stakes with a four length triumph. At Epsom in the Oaks, the filly appeared to have been trapped on the rails, in a hopeless position. However, two of her strongest traits were her ability to quicken and stay and the long Epsom straight gave the filly ample time to regroup and deliver a scything run for a timely royal victory.

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