Mr and Mrs celebrate in the Vase

"Oh Philip, is that for me?"

Even a firm Republican like me could not fail to pick up on the absolute delight on the face of the owner of Estimate as the three year old filly bounded clear of the field in yesterday’s Queen’s Vase. That owner was none other than the Queen herself, and her appearance in the winner’s enclosure afterwards was greeted with three cheers and plenty of “hats off”. And her smile was truly radiant.

Not that this was anything new for the Queen; she’s had 21 winners at the Royal meeting over the past 60 years. And she was about due for one this year, as her only winner since the turn of the century had been Free Agent in the 2008 Chesham Stakes. Many had expected Carlton House to win the Prince of Wales’s Stakes on Wednesday, and trainer Sir Michael Stoute said he had felt more pressure about that horse’s chance.

He suggested that the market had overplayed Estimate’s chance of success, with royal ownership making her price shorter than it ought to have been. He said, “It was great to come here with chances for Her Majesty. There was more pressure with Carlton House. We thought this filly might go well if she stayed, but I think if she had not been owned by the Queen she would only have been sixth favourite in the betting.” As it was, Estimate went off the 3/1 favourite.

The postscript to the race came straight from the scriptwriter’s pen, as the Duke of Edinburgh had long been scheduled to present the trophy for the race. And so he did, but without the usual peck on the cheek for the winning owner. Clare Balding scuttled about for the BBC, clearly desperate to intervene and at least overhear the post race comments, but not daring to do so.

Instead, she collared Aidan O’Brien, who is not having the best of weeks, who trained second placed Athens, who tactfully simply said, “I was delighted with the run and delighted to be second to the Queen.” But you know that deep down he’d have been more delighted to have beaten her.

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