All the Queen’s horses: a royal love affair, from childhood ponies to Derby contenders

Her passion for all things equestrian, nurtured at an early age, has stayed with the Queen throughout her 70 years as monarch. Sean Smith tells the story of a natural horsewoman’s love of racing and its equine stars

<p>Queen Elizabeth II attends the third day of the Royal Windsor Horse Show at Home Park on 15 May 2004 in Windsor</p>

Queen Elizabeth II attends the third day of the Royal Windsor Horse Show at Home Park on 15 May 2004 in Windsor

Derby Day 1953 was a bright, sunny Saturday in June. Just four days earlier the world had watched the grandeur and regal pomp of the coronation at Westminster Abbey. Now it was the chance for the young Queen Elizabeth to cast off the formality of that occasion and enjoy the trappings of the world’s greatest race day.

Her Majesty, as she is always referred to in the respectful world of racing, had a promising contender in Aureole, a flashy, headstrong chestnut and what better story could there be than the newly crowned Queen winning the Derby at Epsom?

Gordon Richards, the greatest jockey of the first half of the 20th century, had never won the Derby. He had been knighted in the coronation honours list, a timely recognition for the sportsman who had been champion jockey in all but two of the previous 27 years. The public loved him.

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