60 years of Royal racing

60 years ago today as well as inheriting the throne, the Queen also inherited a string of racehorses from her father, which set off a lifelong interest in the sport.

During that time her horses have not simply been aimed at the top races. Indeed, she has often had runners at many of the smaller tracks. Barbers Shop, for example, signed off his hurdling career with a win at Southwell before turning to chasing.

Of course the Queen has had many big winners, with winners in four of the five Classics. A Derby winner eludes her; a second place for Aureole in the coronation year of 1953 is as close as she's come. Aureole’s big moments came the following season when he won both the Coronation Cup and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes.

It's always been said that the Queen never carries cash with, but then when she goes racing she doesn't need any. She doesn't bet. Apparently the only time she has a flutter of any kind is in the Royal Box sweepstake on Derby Day, and at £1 a ticket the winner only picks up £16 or so.

John Warren, the Queen's racing manager, explains that "Her Majesty's gamble is on the breeding, using this stallion with that mare, hoping to produce something special."

The Queen gave a filly foaled by one of those mares, Supereva, at the Royal Stud in Norfolk to Charles and Camilla as a wedding present, perhaps to try and stimulate a greater interest in the sport from the next monarch. Royal Superlative went to be trained by Ralph Beckett in Hampshire, but won only a Chepstow maiden in the two years she raced.

More work to be done there I fear. Perhaps, given Prince Charles’ interest in international matters, the Queen would have had more success if she had presented him with the 300 piece jigsaw on which she featured in 1965. It showed a picture of her presenting the racehorse Robespierre to Emperor Haile Selassie. That's a piece of international diplomacy that has been swept under the carpet over the years.

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