The Queen and Her Horses
Queen Elizabeth II has been interested in horses since an early age. She was given her first horse, a diminutive Shetland pony called Peggy, at the age of four by her grandfather King George V. She had received her first riding lesson when just three years old and became an accomplished equestrian by the time she reached her teens. Her love of riding has never left her.
Enjoying Time in the Saddle
In June this year, The Queen was photographed riding in the grounds of Windsor Castle with Prince Phillip. Sporting a pair of jodhpurs, rather than her signature tailored coat and hat, The Queen looked happy and relaxed riding at the age of ninety-one.
Throughout her reign, The Queen has often ridden in ceremonies. She attended the annual trooping of the colour on horseback from 1947 until 1986. For eighteen years, her mount during the event was a black mare named Burmese, presented to her by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 1969 when they came to perform at the Royal Windsor Horse Show.
Queen Elizabeth II owns many thoroughbred horses. She inherited several on the death of her father, King George VI, in 1952. She uses the same racing colours as her father; a purple and scarlet jacket with gold braiding and a black cap. Her horses have won more than 1600 races including all of the British Classic races with the exception of The Derby. She is the only reigning monarch to have been named British Flat Racing Champion Owner twice.
The absence of a Derby win must niggle the Queen. Her horse Aureole finished second in 1953 but that was the closest that she has come to triumphing in the race. The Queen does not gamble but people have said that she reads the Racing Post at breakfast!
The Queen has earned a total of £6,704,941 from her horses over the past 30 years, figures have revealed. According to the data compiled by myracing.com, she has recorded 451 race wins in that period with a win rate of 15.9 per cent. Last year, the Queen banked an impressive £557,650 – her highest annual total winning ever.
The patron of the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association, The Queen takes a keen interest in breeding horses. She regularly visits her animals at the Royal Stud in the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk. The team at Polhampton Stud in Hampshire raise her foals. They then go on to the training facilities of the five trainers that she uses. When the horses retire from racing, they remain in her care. Her bloodstock and racing adviser is John Warren. He took over the role from his father in law, Henry Herbert, 7th Earl of Carnarvon, on his death in 2001. The Queen also breeds Shetland ponies at Balmoral in Scotland and Fell ponies at Hampton Court.
The Queen is patron of the British Horse Society, the Fell Pony Society, the Highland Pony Society, the Shire Horse Society, the Welsh Pony and Cob Society and the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association.