Lord Carnarvon, racing manager to the Queen for over 30 years, has died of a heart attack sustained at his Highclere Castle home near Newbury on Monday night.
A friend as well as an employee of the monarch, Henry Carnarvon will be remembered for his role in the removal of Dick Hern from the Queen's West Ilsley stables. Hern had broken his neck in a hunting accident in 1984, but continued his training career from a wheelchair. In 1988 Hern was in hospital undergoing treatment for a heart problem when Carnarvon informed the trainer's wife, Sheilah, that their lease was not to be renewed.
It was a move roundly condemned in racing circles, but Carnarvon always maintained he was acting purely on the orders of the Queen.
The seventh Earl was the grandson of the man who sponsored Howard Carter's discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamen. The then Henry Herbert first met the Queen just after World War II, when he was an officer in the Royal Horse Guards. He was appointed her racing manager in 1969 and there was early success in the role when Highclere won the 1974 1,000 Guineas and Prix de Diane. Silver Jubilee year, 1977, was marked by Dunfermline, who won the Oaks and St Leger. That, however, remains the most recent Classic success in the Royal colours.
In 1982, Carnarvon was the architect of the sale to Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum of the racemare Height Of Fashion. It was a good price, but was made to look cheap when she produced the 1989 2,000 Guineas and Derby winner, Nashwan, as well as a talented duo in Unfuwain and Nayef, who won at Goodwood yesterday.
In 1967 Carnarvon was chairman of the committee which established the Pattern, the system of Group racing in Europe. He was chairman of Newbury racecourse for many years.
While the Queen's successes under his stewardship have been intermittent, Carnarvon himself has had great moments as an owner. His Lyric Fantasy, who became known as "the pocket rocket", won the 1992 Nunthorpe Stakes at York. He also owned Niche, who won the Lowther Stakes, Nell Gwyn Stakes and Falmouth Stakes but who suffered an unfortunate end when she got loose on the gallops and was hit by a van.
Lord Carnarvon had horses in training with Richard Hannon, Roger Charlton, Michael Stoute and Paul Webber. He was also managing director of Highclere Stud. His son Harry Herbert runs Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, which runs syndicates and has been represented by several good horses, notably Petrushka. Herbert was stranded in the United States yesterday, where he was attending the Keeneland Sales.
Lord Carnarvon's daughter, Lady Carolyn Warren, said: "My father was 77, but I think 'years young' would be the way to describe him. He was fit and healthy, busy and looking forward as always. Racing has been one of his great loves and his involvement goes way beyond his horses. There was his care of racing and his involvement in the administration and business of it. He always wanted the best for racing."Reuse content