Remembering Queen Elizabeth II's Royal Ascot winners
Next week's Royal Ascot meeting will be the first in seven decades without Queen Elizabeth II as the reigning head of state. A lifelong racing fan, she died last September at the age of 96.
A ubiquitous presence at the Royal meeting until the last few years of her life, Elizabeth II enjoyed a fair amount of success at the fixture. Within weeks of her coronation in 1953 through 2020, she celebrated the success of 24 Royal Ascot winners.
Here are some notable facts about the Queen's two dozen winners:
- The Queen's first Royal Ascot winner was Choir Boy, in the 1953 Royal Hunt Cup. She would win that prestigious handicap twice more, in 1956 and 1992. Overall, seven of her victories at the fixture came in handicaps, including two wins in the Ascot Stakes and one each in the King George V and Duke of Edinburgh.
- Ten of the Queen's 24 winners occurred in the 1950s. Arguably her best runner of all time, Aureole, captured the 1954 edition of the Hardwicke S., a race she would win three times overall. Dartmouth's win in the 2016 Hardwicke (G2) was the Queen's final Group race success at the Royal meeting.
- Along with the Hardwicke and Royal Hunt Cup, the Queen enjoyed her most frequent success in the Ribblesdale (G2), the 1 1/2-mile test for three-year-old fillies. The first of her three Ribblesdale winners, Almeria (1957), was one of the most accomplished fillies she ever owned.
- The Queen won back-to-back renewals (1958-59) of the King Edward VII (G2) for three-year-olds, a race honoring her great-grandfather, who alongside her was arguably the most avid racing fan among the British monarchs over the past two centuries.
- The Queen won four Royal Ascot stakes restricted to two-year-olds. The most notable of the four winners was Pall Mall, who in 1957 captured the New S., a race now known as the Norfolk (G2). Pall Mall went on to capture the 2000 Guineas and the first two editions of the (now Group 1) Lockinge S. Her last winner at the Royal meeting was the juvenile Tactical, who captured the 2020 Windsor Castle S.
- Her Majesty's most prominent runner of more recent times was the filly Estimate, who was the only two-time Royal Ascot winner she ever owned. Estimate captured the Queen's Vase (G3) in 2012 and followed up in 2013 by winning the meet centerpiece, the 2 1/2-mile Gold Cup (G1). It was the first royal victory in the Gold Cup since Edward VII, then the Prince of Wales, won with Persimmon in 1897.
In tribute to the late Queen’s patronage of Royal Ascot and to racing in general, the six-furlong Platinum Jubilee (G1) on the meet’s closing day has been renamed the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee.