Sport on TV: Even the Queen is saddled with ubiquitous Clare Balding

She's an asset to the nation: happy and glorious, long to reign over us, God save Clare Balding. Turn on any TV channel and the odds are you will see her mischievous eyes beneath that Diana mop. The bookies should call off all bets, for she can wear the silks of whichever stable wants her and she makes changing horses in mid-sentence seem easy.

First there was her investigation into the life and death of Emily Davison in Clare Balding's Secrets of a Suffragette (Channel 4, Sunday), in which she forensically studied the incident where the feminist activist threw herself in front of the king's horse in the 1913 Derby. After hearing of the "firebuilding and bombing" activities of Davison, she came to the rather uncomfortable conclusion that she was more of a terrorist than a heroine.

Unabashed, Balding then deftly jumped over the fence and was to be found in royal company in a different way in The Queen: A Passion for Horses (BBC1, Monday). "There is a private side, a side most of us never see," she gushed, recounting how the first thing our monarch does every morning is read the Racing Post. "We've been allowed inside the private world."

Clare herself comes from an exclusive line of breeding, with three generations of Baldings having trained the Queen's horses – although frankly she's got so many of them that you might have even trained one yourself without realising it. Yet the Queen seemed to be ignoring her to start with, something along the lines of, "Oh no, not another bloody Baldwin".

The access was remarkable. We watched the octogenarian visit her yearlings at the Polhampton stud, and the skittish youngsters kicking up their heels alarmingly. But the Queen just potters up to them and scratches their noses, murmurs a few soft words (probably not "And what do you do?") and they are utterly becalmed. To think, one kick and all those record-breaking 60 years in charge would be over in a flash. It's lucky Prince Philip wasn't around, he would have been bound to upset one of them.

Initially the Queen employed the services of a Harley Street doctor to apply a "laying on of hands" to the excitable Aureole after he came second in the Derby 60 years ago. It didn't work. In 1989, she invited the Californian "horse whisperer" Monty Roberts to Windsor Castle to try his own calming techniques, and the unlikely alliance continues to this day.

Perhaps she might have used Monty to sort out some of the more troublesome elements of her royal family. Given the Queen's massive equine breeding programme, it comes as a surprise that she didn't find more suitable inseminators for her own offspring.

Watching a foal being born, the Sandringham stud manager, Joe Grimwade, and Balding marvel at the foal struggling to find its feet. "It's like it's on stilts…" "…on a ship…" "…after a few drinks." It sounded like a member of the upper classes stumbling around the grounds after a hard night of hob-nobbing.

At Castle Balding her own family say Davison was not trying to make a martyr of herself because, as Clare's father, Ian, says: "It was the suffragettes' ball that night." Brother Andrew chimes in: "That would have been a blast!" "This is the world I grew up in," groans Clare. "Women ain't people!"

The Queen has probably acted as a huge figure of empowerment for British women, albeit in a quiet way, far more than any suffragette ever managed. But she would probably give all that up for a single Derby winner like Ian Balding has, the one racing prize she has never grasped.

Then again, as Balding seemed to be presiding over the presentations at Epsom too, maybe she won't mind missing out again this year.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
life
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
News
An Apple iPhone 6 stands on display at the Apple Store
businessRegulators give iPhone 6 and 6 Plus the green light
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Britain's internet habits have been revealed in a new survey
tech
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
film
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
Arts and Entertainment
music
Life and Style
tech
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Duncan Campbell's hour-long film 'It for Others'
Turner Prize 2014
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hadley in a scene from ‘Soul Boys Of The Western World’
musicSpandau Ballet are back together - on stage and screen
News
i100
Life and Style
Bearing up: Sebastian Flyte with his teddy Aloysius in Brideshead Revisited
lifePhilippa Perry explains why a third of students take a bear to uni
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Alan Sugar appearing in a shot from Apprentice which was used in a Cassette Boy mashup
artsA judge will rule if pieces are funny enough to be classed as parodies
Arts and Entertainment
film
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Web Analytics Manager / Optimisation Manager

£50 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Web Analytics Manager / Optimisation Manager ...

Graduate Sales Executive

Up to £24k + Commission: Sphere Digital Recruitment: Premium Ad Verification C...

Agency Sales /Senior Sales Manager

£40,000 - £65,000 + commission : Sphere Digital Recruitment: Great opportunity...

Marketing Manager

£26 - 32k: Guru Careers: A Marketing Manager is needed to join a unique and ex...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style