Horse racing and the royals is a relationship that goes back to when the sport was invented. The British royal family has kept horses for generations and racing was given particular promotion by King George IV in the 1800s.
Over the years stables that previously bred horses for combat and transport turned into breeding grounds for thoroughbred racing. Now there are elite stables all over the UK and Ireland – and one of them is the Sandringham Estate.
The late Queen led a successful stables there for decades, and her horses won some of the biggest races in the sport. From Carrozza through to Estimate, her Majesty’s stable produced some incredible champions down the years.
But since her passing in September 2022 there has been debate about what happens to the Queen’s racehorses. Who owns them now, and is the stable still profitable?
It may seem a bit strange to back the monarch’s horse when you’re next horse racing betting, but many people do and to great success.
Here in Paddy Power’s latest Demystifying Racing guide, we look at the late Queen’s racehorses, what’s happened to them now, and how they’ve fared down the years…
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How many racehorses did the Queen own?
Calculating exactly how many racehorses the Queen owned is tricky, especially as every year new blood was added to her stables. However, in 2021 the Queen’s horses ran 166 times during the Flat season, and quite a lot fewer over the jumps. In 2022 she had plenty more running during the summer months. She toasted a winner at Epsom during her Platinum Jubilee celebrations, when Steal A March won the feature 2m7f handicap hurdle.
The Queen owned in excess of 100 horses at her death in 2022, and was believed to have earned around £8.7m from prize money down the years. In 2016 alone her horses earned a combined £560,000 in prize money, a figure that was beaten in 2021 with a £584,000 reward. According to Sandringham’s own website, Prince Phillip used the prize money from his winning horses to spruce up the Walled Kitchen Gardens on the Estate.
The Queen’s appetite for bloodstock breeding produced a long list of thoroughbred horses down the years. Her horses were foaled at the Royal Stud in Sandringham and trained by a variety of trainers.
What famous racehorses did the Queen own?
The Queen owned hundreds of racehorses down the years. The Online Betting Guide (OLBG) states she claimed 566 race wins from more than 3,500 race entries.
Her first big champion was Carrozza, who won the Epsom Oaks in 1957 and the Princess Elizabeth Stakes (named after her!) that year too. Carrozza’s Oaks triumph helped the Queen be named Champion Owner for the second time in her life – the first monarch to ever earn the prize twice.
A year later and Pall Mall handed the Queen her second classic by winning the 2000 Guineas – a race George VI had won with Big Game back in 1942.
In 1974 Highclere won the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket – only the Queen’s third fillies classic after Carrozza and Pall Mall more than 16 years previous. Highclere went on to win the Prix de Diane too, before being retired to stud.
Three years later Dunfermline came to the fore and won the Epsom Oaks and St Ledger Stakes, two classics in a single season to become arguably the Queen’s most successful horse.
How many times did the Queen win the Ascot Gold Cup?
Perhaps the most memorable horse owned by the Queen in modern times was Estimate.
The Queen may have had a successful stable but one race that evaded her for decades was the Ascot Gold Cup. That was until 2013, when Estimate and jockey Ryan Moore charged home in front of a roaring crowd to claim a first Ascot Gold Cup win for a reigning monarch in the race’s 207-year history.
“It’s a special thrill for the Queen. She said it gave her great pleasure and she thanked everyone involved,” said Estimate’s trainer Sir Michael Stoute.
What happened to the Queen’s racehorses?
Upon her passing in September 2022, there was uncertainty about what fate would befall the Queen’s racehorses and stable. However, it has now been confirmed that the registration of all her racehorses has been transferred to King Charles and Queen Camilla, who become co-owners.
In 2022 Charles reportedly earned more than £1m for selling 14of the Queen’s racehorses. Camilla also owns racehorses with ex-Arsenal chairman Sir Chips Keswick.
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