How Queen Elizabeth II made horseracing the sport of queens
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The death of Queen Elizabeth II marks the end of one of horseracing's most accomplished chapters.
A life-long lover of equines, the Queen oversaw one of the sport's most famous stables, inheriting it from her father when she ascended to the throne.
Before famous studs like Godolphin and Coolmore began to dominate the world, it was the Royal Stud that was the juggernaut of racing.
When it comes to horseracing the Queen – and the royal family – will always be most associated with Royal Ascot.
Ascot Racecourse, roughly 50 kilometres south-west of London, was founded by Queen Anne in 1711 and has become an institution in British racing.
Much as Flemington is synonymous with the Melbourne Cup, Ascot is best known for the five-day Royal Ascot festival.
Each day of the festival begins with the monarch being driven down the home straight in a horse-drawn carriage.
The tradition dates back to 1825 and has become one of racing's most famous events.
Lured by the presence of royalty, as many as 300,000 people typically make the trip to Royal Ascot over the five days.
Sir Francis Brooke, the Queen's representative at Ascot, hailed the late monarch as a champion of the sport.
"The world of racing has lost one of its greatest supporters," he said.
"We at Ascot are privileged to have so many memories of Her Majesty The Queen at this her racecourse, including some wonderful victories in the royal colours."
The Queen attended every Royal Ascot during her reign until 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic kept her away.
She also missed the next two years as she battled health problems.
As the owner of one of the world's most famous studs, the Queen amassed an impressive list of winners over seven decades.
She had 24 winners at Royal Ascot, with her first in 1953 when Choir Boy won the Royal Hunt Cup.
The Queen's horses notched up seven Royal Ascot wins in her first two years as an owner.
Over the decades the Queen went through the highs and lows as an owner, with patches of great wins and troughs without success.
For years she chased a win in one of Royal Ascot's most prestigious races, the Gold Cup.
Run over nearly 4,000 metres, the race signifies the best stayer in the UK and is revered in a similar way to the Melbourne Cup.
The Queen's wait for Gold Cup glory finally ended in 2013 when favourite Estimate gave her the win she had searched for.
Estimate, a four-year-old filly, was the public's pick for the major race, and a massive crowd cheered her down the straight.
Guided by jockey Ryan Moore, Estimate held on by a neck to make the Queen the first reigning monarch in the 207-year history of the race to win.
John Warren, who at the time was the Queen's bloodstock adviser, said it was the happiest he had ever seen her.
"We were all trying our hardest to keep the excitement under control but I'm afraid with one [furlong] to run the excitement was too much," The Guardian reported him saying.
"I can't remember seeing the Queen so happy and excited and thrilled, so it was just a truly magical moment.
"For a lady that has given so much to this country to win what is probably, after the [Epsom] Derby the most historical race in the calendar, it gives me so much pleasure to know that she has got such enjoyment and happiness from it."
Ties between Australian horseracing and the royal family were strengthened during the Queen's reign.
Accompanied by her husband Prince Philip, the Queen became the first reigning monarch to visit Melbourne's Flemington racecourse, in 1954.
It was the first of three visits to the iconic track, with follow-up appearances in 1963 and 1977.
The Queen's initial visit to Flemington is still honoured to this day with an annual race, the VRC Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Held on the final day of the Melbourne Cup carnival, the Group 3 race over 2,600m has been a happy hunting ground for many champions.
Legendary horse Makybe Diva won in 2002, one year before her first Melbourne Cup triumph.
Other Melbourne Cup winners who have also taken out the VRC Queen Elizabeth Stakes include Might And Power (1998), Rain Lover (1968) and Galilee (1966).
The Queen's passion for racing made buying her gifts easy for the nation in 1980, when she was gifted a racehorse by Australia in recognition of her Silver Jubilee, three years before.
Presented to her on the lawn of Government House by prime minister Malcolm Fraser, Australia Fair was front-page news.
"I am most grateful for this wonderful present from the Australian people," the Canberra Times reported the Queen as saying.
But the presentation to the Queen ended up being the highlight of Australia Fair's career.
With the famous royal colours of purple with gold braids and red sleeves on its back, Australia Fair did not bring any success for the Queen.
With decades of involvement, multiple champions and being Australia's head of state, it is surprising the Queen only ever had one runner in a Melbourne Cup.
Australia's most famous race is a bucket list item for any owner, jockey or trainer.
For the Queen, her one and only attempt at capturing Australia's crown for stayers was in 1997.
There was plenty of interest in that year's Melbourne Cup.
Could Might and Power win the Caufield-Melbourne Cup double?
Could Doriemus replicate his win from two years prior?
Or could the Queen secure a royal victory at Flemington?
Her hopes rested on the back of Arabian Story.
Arabian Story had a successful year in 1997, with two wins along with a pair of seconds during the European summer.
With Italian jockey Frankie Dettori riding, and trained by Lord Huntingdon, there was plenty of interest around the Queen's one shot at the Melbourne Cup.
Dettori rode a respectable race to finish sixth, three lengths off the winner Might and Power, who led from start to finish.
The Queen did not enter the Melbourne Cup after that, settling for just one attempt at the "race that stops the nation".
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