The Queen’s horse, Estimate, a four year old filly, has won the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot today. This is the first time a reigning monarch has ever won the Gold Cup.
This is the toughest race, 2 and a half miles, at racing’s most prestigious meeting. The Gold Cup was dominated in the late 2000s by the horse Yeates, who had four consecutive wins in that race before retiring in 2009.
As Estimate won, Richard Palmer of the Daily Express reported on Twitter that “Beatrice and Eugenie were jumping and down, going nuts in the Royal Box. HM clapping like mad”. Then, “The Queen has tears in her eyes. She’s very emotional in the Royal Box. The crowd clap and wave at her below.”
The trophy was presented to the Queen by her son, the Duke of York. Her Majesty had been due to present the award, one of only two presentations she would make at Royal Ascot this year, but after winning, she could not present the trophy to herself! The Gold Cup is one of the few trophies that is given to the racehorse owner and is actually kept by them.
In an interview with Clare Balding on Channel 4’s coverage, the Queen’s grandson, Peter Phillips, said “to have a win like this is truly truly special”.
Royal Ascot takes place every year in June, although when Ascot racecourse, which is owned by the Queen, was being redeveloped in 2005, that year’s race meeting was held at York Racecourse.
Two highlights of Royal Ascot are Ladies Day and the Gold Cup, both on Thursday. On Ladies Day, bets are traditionally placed on which colour hat the Queen will be wearing.
The Queen has now owned 22 winning horses at Ascot and last year was presented with The Queen’s Vase by the Duke of Edinburgh after her horse, Estimate, won that race by five lengths.
The Queen usually attends every day of Ascot, and each day she hosts a lunch for her guests at Windsor Castle before leaving in cars at 1.35pm and driving to the Ascot Gate of Windsor Great Park. They then transfer to horse drawn carriages for the procession down the course to the Royal Box.
This year, Her Majesty’s guests in the carriage procession have included the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and his daughters Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, and the Queen’s former Private Secretary, Lord Fellowes.
Ascot Racecourse was founded by Queen Anne in 1711 and the Royal Procession was started in the 1820s in the reign of George IV. At that time, it was referred to as the Royal Parade or Royal Drive. The Royal Family will be in the Royal Enclosure. Entry to this enclosure is strict – one must be sponsored by an existing member who has attended for four years previously. The dress code in this enclosure is equally exacting with men required to wear morning dress (top hat and tails) and ladies must be in formal dresses or matching trouser suits and hats with a substantial brim (no fascinators).
The Queen first went to Royal Ascot in 1945 and has attended every year since.