Queen Elizabeth's top race horses of all time

April 15th, 2021

A prominent fixture on the turf since ascending the throne of the United Kingdom in 1952, Queen Elizabeth II has enjoyed tremendous success as both an owner and breeder in her seven decades as the sport's most recognizable patron. Indeed, a number of her most accomplished runners came along during the first decade or so of her long and inspiring reign.

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Below, in chronological order, are some of the best to have sported Her Majesty's royal colors.


Arguably the Queen's most significant runner, Auerole nearly gave the Queen the top prize in racing, the Epsom Derby, the week of her coronation in 1953. Second to Pinza in both the Derby (the only English classic that has eluded the Queen) and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth S. that summer, Aureole turned out to be a much more accomplished four-year-old in 1954 when accounting for the Coronation Cup at Epsom, the Hardwicke S. at Royal Ascot, and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

Aureole proved to be an outstanding stallion, siring winners of the Derby, St Leger, and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. A grandson, French champion Vaguely Noble, also became an influential sire.


Carrozza's true merit was not fully confirmed as she retired late in her three-year-old season due to an injury sustained at Goodwood. But the daughter of Dante is historically important as she provided the Queen with her first classic win as an owner by taking the 1957 Epsom Oaks with Lester Piggott up. In winning the Oaks, Carrozza turned the tables on her 1000 Guineas conqueror Rose Royale.


Judged the leading three-year-old filly stayer of 1957, Almeria earned signature victories in the Ribblesdale S. at Royal Ascot, the Yorkshire Oaks, and the Park Hill S. at Doncaster, the latter colloquially referred to as the filly's St Leger.

Brought out of retirement for a brief four-year-old campaign, Almeria failed to win. However, she did finish second to that year's leading horse in Europe, Ballymoss, in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, and also placed in the Doncaster Cup behind Agreement, who was also owned by the Queen.

Pall Mall

Described by experts as more workmanlike than impressive, Pall Mall nonetheless pulled off a 20-1 upset of the 1958 edition of the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, giving the Queen her second classic win in two seasons. A month later, Pall Mall beat older rivals in the inaugural running of the Lockinge S. at Newbury, a race that now serves as the first Group 1 weight-for-age mile of the English racing season. Pall Mall repeated in the Lockinge in 1959.


Doutelle was not absolute top class on the racecourse, but did win more than half a dozen stakes for the Queen. Most significant of these was the 1958 Ormonde S. at Chester, in which he defeated the aforementioned Ballymoss.

As a stallion, Doutelle sired Canisbay, the Queen's shock winner of the 1965 Eclipse S. at Sandown. Doutelle was also the grandsire of 1971 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Canonero II.

Hopeful Venture

A son of Aureole, Hopeful Venture won the Princess of Wales's S. at Newmarket and placed in the King Edward VII S. and St Leger as a three-year-old in 1967. At age four, in 1968, he hit his best stride with victories in the Ormonde, Hardwicke, and Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud.

The latter, France's top middle-distance race of the summer, proved an exceptional win as it came at the expense of the aforementioned Vaguely Noble, who would go on to win the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.


Although she tailed off at the end of the 1974 season, Highclere became the Queen's first dual classic winner that spring when taking the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Prix de Diane (French Oaks) at Chantilly. She later finished runner-up to the legendary filly Dahlia in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

Highclere was later to become the second dam of the brilliant dual classic winner Nashwan, among others.


Although the latter part of her career was anti-climactic and she produced little of note at stud, Dunfermline was indisputably the best racing filly ever campaigned by the Queen.

In addition to providing Her Majesty with a second win in the Oaks (in the year of her Silver Jubilee in 1977), Dunfermline handed the legendary Alleged, a two-time Arc winner, his only loss in 10 lifetime starts when beating the Irish-trained colt by 1 1/2 lengths in the St Leger at Doncaster.


The Queen's most accomplished runner in recent decades was the staying filly Estimate, who before worldwide viewing audiences provided Her Majesty with Royal Ascot victories in the 2012 Queen's Vase (in which the Queen accepted the trophy from her husband, the late Duke of Edinburgh) and 2013 Gold Cup. The latter was the first royal victory in the meeting’s signature event since 1897, when the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, won it with Persimmon.

Estimate's other top wins included the 2013 Sagaro S. at Ascot and the 2014 Doncaster Cup.