Thursday 21 April - 03h58 | Lulu Kyriacou
Happy 90th Birthday, Your Majesty!
Today we would like to wish a Happy Birthday to Her Majesty, The Queen, who is celebrating her 90th year. One of the world's most devoted horsewomen, she has been part of many equestrian sporting moments during her life so far.
Her Majesty still rides regularly, usually mounted these days on one of the Fell ponies which she breeds herself. In addition to riding horses, the Royal Stud at Sandringham houses m0st of her racing broodmares producing the racehorses with whom she has enjoyed many successes. Last year, she took a break from her summer holiday in Balmoral to present the prizes at the European Eventing Championships at Blair Castle and in 2009 gave permission for the European Showjumping Champonships to be held in the grounds of Windsor Castle, which is also the venue for the annual Royal Windsor Horse Show, which this year will be featuring a special evening pageant in her honour. Her Majesty is such a keen horsewoman, that even when shots were fired during the Trooping the Colour ceremony in 1981, she did not stop riding her charger at the annual event until her beloved Burmese was retired four years later.
A Sporting Life
Although the Queen's official duties prevented her from riding competitively herself, her daughter, Anne, The Princess Royal, won the European Eventing Championships at Burghley in 1971 riding Doublet, a horse owned by her mother, The Princess Royal, then Princess Anne, subsequently represented Great Britain at the Olympics in 1976. The Queen's grandaughter, Zara first of all matched her mother's acheivement by winning the European Championships on Toytown and then went one better by adding a the 2006 World Championships as well. In addtion to her famous daughter and grandaughter, Her Majesty has had other eventing connections, owing championship horses such as Capt Mark Phillips Badminton winning ride Columbus, who his rider also famously jumped round the Grand National course before the race one year.
Classic Success In England and France
Although, the Queen seems to love horses of every kind, it is possibly her racehorses for whom she is most well known. In the year of her coronation, she narrowly failed to win the Derby when her flashy chestnut Aureole was just beaten by Pinza. Since then she has bred several notable winners, three of which were fillies. The first of these was Highclere, who after having won 1000 Guineas at Newmarket was rerouted to France for the Prix Vermeille (French Oaks) because it was thought the course would suit her better. She won, in "scenes of chaos" according to her trainer, because the French seemed almost as pleased as the British that she had won. Highclere was just as prolific in the paddocks, although some of her offspring were sold, one of which was Height of Fashion, mother of champion Derby winner Nashwan.
It was probably fitting that in her Silver Jubilee year, the Queen's colours were carried by a horse that was almost as adored by the public as her owner. Dunfermaline won her first race as three year old but was not favourite for the English Oaks. Despite that she won easily and then went to Doncaster for the St Leger where she gave Her Majesty a second classic when she won. She became the only horse to beat subsequent dual Arc de Triomphe winner Alleged during that race.
Although in recent years, the Queen's racehorses have struggled to compete with the sheer numbers owned by the Arab owners who dominate the sport, she has still had success and in 2013, Her Majesty became the first reigning monarch (in over 200 years) to win the Ascot Gold Cup with another filly, this time called Estimate, to more scenes of hysteria at the normally more sedate Royal Ascot meeting.