Horse racing community pays tribute to Queen Elizabeth II

The queen, who had a lifelong love of horses, was a renowned breeder and champion owner

Queen Elizabeth II meets Harlequin, a horse she gave to the King's Troop, during a visit to the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery, in south-east London. AFP
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Queen Elizabeth II dies — follow the latest news as the world mourns

The international horse racing community has paid tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II, honouring her lifelong love of all things horses.

Godolphin, the stables owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, who knew the Queen for many years, said everyone there was “deeply saddened” by her death.

“She was an outstanding and devoted head of state, who loved the thoroughbred and our sport with a passion,” tweeted the stable.

“Our deepest condolences go to the Royal Family and to the country.”

An alliance of five prominent global racing festivals, World Horse Racing, also paid tribute, tweeting a black and white image of the queen riding a horse, with the caption: “A lover of the horse like no other. Rest in peace, Queen Elizabeth II.”

It shared an interview on Twitter with Wesley Ward, a horse trainer, who met her on several occasions.

“It’s hard to put into words what she’s meant to Ascot, what she’s meant to breeding in general,” he said.

“When you sit down with her she’s sitting there and she’s asking you questions. And you’re answering these answers.

“At first you are thinking like, she’s trying to welcome me. But she really is into exactly all these questions.

“She’s asking you about how to train and how you train horses in America. And how I am successful and my horses. And she says her trainers always like to come from behind. And pretty soon you just have to think to yourself you are sitting next to the Queen of England here.”

The queen took her first riding lesson when she was aged only 3 and was pictured throughout the course of her life on horses, almost always without wearing a helmet.

Her favourite horse was a coal black mare called Burmese, which she received as a gift from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The queen appeared on Burmese at 18 consecutive Trooping the Colour parades and also rode out on her recreationally.

Former US president Ronald Reagan, on Centennial, and Queen Elizabeth II, on Burmese, ride on the grounds of Windsor Castle, England, in 1982. AP

The mare's last appearance at the Horse Guards Parade was in 1986, after which she as put out to pasture in the grounds of Windsor Castle within easy sight of the queen. She died of a stroke four years later.

According to World Horse Racing, she turned down the opportunity to have a break in the ceremony during her 1953 coronation, saying: “I’ll be all right. I’m as strong as a horse.”

She was a renowned breeder and a champion owner twice, with her horses winning five English Classics and 24 races at Royal Ascot.

It is said the queen, who would not wear perfume around horses so as to not upset them, could recall every horse she bred and owned from the very beginning.

And during the wedding of her son, now known as King Charles III, to Camilla, now Queen Consort, she heavily referenced the Grand National, which took place on the same day.

The monarch popped off to watch the race at various points at a TV set up for the purpose in a side room.

It is said she made sure the timings of the day allowed her to pop off and watch the race, setting up a TV in a side room.

She even referenced the race in her speech at the event, welcoming Camilla to the winners’ enclosure.

It is reported she said: "They have overcome Becher's Brook and The Chair (the toughest jumps at the Grand National) and all kinds of other terrible obstacles, They have come through and I'm very proud and wish them well.

"My son is home and dry with the woman he loves."

Updated: September 09, 2022, 1:09 PM
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