Queen shares her favourite horses from seven decades of reign for first time

‘The greatest asset you need to have with horses is patience – which luckily the Queen has in spades,’ says the Queen’s racing advisor

Sabrina Barr
Wednesday 10 June 2020 16:31 BST
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The Queen has revealed her favourite horses from throughout her 65 years on the throne for the first time.

After a lifetime spent in the public eye, Queen Elizabeth II's favourite pastimes are well known.

One of the most significant of these passions, as depicted in The Crown, is the 94-year-old's love of horses – she had her first riding lesson at the age of three.

For the first time, the royal has shared her favourite horses and racehorses have been of the past seven decades.

These steeds include Auerole, who she inherited from her late father King George VI; Doublet, on whom Princess Anne won the European Eventing Championships; and Estimate, who made the Queen the first monarch to win the Ascot Gold Cup.

A ‘well done’ pat for Doublet as the Queen congratulates Princess Anne and her mount after they had taken fifth place in the Badminton Horse Trials, 25 April 1971

Her choices, which have been shared in Horse and Hound magazine, also include Burmese, the mare she rode at Trooping the Colour for 18 years, her fell pony Emma and Sanction, with whom Queen Elizabeth II had an “almost telepathic bond”.

The Queen has selected eight horses that she and her family have loved riding and watching over the years, in addition to five memorable racehorses that she bred and owned.

The selections are accompanied by comments from Terry Pendry, stud groom and manager at Windsor Castle, and John Warren, the Queen’s bloodstock and racing advisor.

Queen Elizabeth II with her racing manager John Warren after her horse, Estimate, won the Gold Cup on day three of the Royal Ascot meeting at Ascot Racecourse, Berkshire, 20 June 2013

“Her knowledge and expertise is well-known,” said Mr Pendry. “She names all of her horses and ponies herself and can remember the parentage of every single one.

“She still rides to this very day, and it is an important part of her life. Her Majesty has a fountain of knowledge in all things equine, you might say a living encyclopaedia.”

Mr Warren stated that the Queen has “developed a deep, profound knowledge” of horses that she has “consistently worked on and thought about throughout most of her life”.

“These incredibly highly charged creatures, full of blood and muscle, are developed from birth with kid gloves and the sophisticated jigsaw of trying to put all the pieces together is a constant challenge that continues to intrigue the Queen,” he said.

“To deal with the constant challenges and disappointments, as all horse people will know, the greatest asset you need to have with horses is patience – which luckily the Queen has in spades.”

Here is the list of the Queen’s favourite horses from the past 65 years.

1. Betsy

Betsy was a black-brown mare that the Queen used to ride in the 1960s.

Mr Pendry said that Betsy was “full of character and spirit and much loved by the Queen”.

2. Burmese

Queen Elizabeth II rides Burmese to inspect the 1st Battalion, Scots Guards, during the Trooping the Colour ceremony at Horse Guards Parade to mark the official birthday of The Queen, 16 June 1969

Burmese was presented to the monarch in 1969 by The Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The Queen went on to ride the mare in Trooping the Colour for 18 years.

3. Doublet

Princess Anne on Doublet after she became the Individual European three-day even champion at Burghley, 1 September 1971

Bred as a polo pony, Doublet was the horse with which Princess Anne won the European Eventing Championships at Burghley in 1971.

4. Columbus

Captain Mark Phillips with the Queen’s horse Columbus and the Whitbread Trophy after his third victory in the Badminton Horse Trials, 27 April 1974

Columbus was sired by Colonist, Winston Churchill’s stallion.

Anne first rode Columbus at an event at novice and intermediate level but found him too strong. He was also a favourite of Captain Mark Phillips, Princess Anne’s first husband, and won Badminton in 1974.

Speaking of the horse, Mr Pendry said: “Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother always said he was the Grand National horse that never was. She would have loved him for herself.”

5. Sanction

Sanction was a brown riding horse and a firm favourite for the Queen for several years.

“Sanction was almost telepathic and had a very strong bond with Her Majesty,” Mr Pendry said.

“Sanction was the last home-bred horse that Her Majesty rode before making the decision to start riding native ponies. A little closer to the ground, so to speak.”

6. Balmoral Jingle

A huge success in the show ring, the Highland pony eventually went on to become a broodmare at the Balmoral Stud.

7. Balmoral Curlew

Balmoral Curlew was another favourite of the Highland ponies who was also a key show ring performer and became a broodmare.

8. Emma the Fell pony

The Queen’s horses (left to right) Alpine, Mingulay, George (named after Queen Elizabeth II’s father), Anson, Dawn and Emma with grooms on the private grounds of Windsor Castle, 12 May 2015

“A wonderful servant to Her Majesty and is still going strong at the age of 24 as one of the Queen’s riding ponies,” Mr Pendry said.

Here are the Queen’s top five favourite racehorses.

1. Aureole

The Queen smiles and gives her four-year-old colt Aureole a congratulatory pat on the nose after his victory in the King George VI and the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot races, 17 July 1954

Aureole was bred by George VI and was the first horse the Queen inherited from her late father.

Mr Warren said the memorable horse was the Queen’s first top-class exciting racehorse, adding that although the animal was feisty and highly strung, the Queen knew how to get the best out of him.

2. Doutelle

The Queen points to her colt Doutelle, who had just won the 2,000 Guineas Trial Stakes at Kempton Park races, 20 April 1957

The Chestnut stallion won several races for the Queen.

He retired to the Sandringham Stud but his career was cut short when he died at the age of only eight.

3. Highclere

The Queen is all smiles after her horse, Highclere wins the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, 2 May 1974

Another all-time favourite for the monarch was Highclere, a Dual Classic winner, who was ridden to victory in both the 1000 Guineas and Prix de Diane in Paris.

After the victory in Paris, an enormous crowd chanted “Vive La Reine” in the horse’s honour.

4. Phantom Gold

Phantom Gold, ridden by Frankie Dettori, winning The Triple Print Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury, 17 August 1996

Phantom Gold was the winner of the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot, St Simon and Geoffrey Freer Stakes.

Mr Warren said that the “remarkable mare” will “inevitably continue to be at the core of the Royal Studs’ broodmare band for future generations to enjoy and nurture”.

5. Estimate

Queen Elizabeth II pats her horse Estimate after it won the Gold Cup ridden by jockey Ryan Moore (left) during Ladies’ Day at Royal Ascot, 26 June 2013

At four years old, the bay filly won the Ascot Gold Cup.

“No reigning monarch had won the Gold Cup,” Mr Warren said, adding: ”It gave Her Majesty great pleasure in achieving an ambition to breed such a great horse of true stamina and grit.”

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