The Queen Mother and her affinity with horses

Posted on 23rd December 2021

Regularly frequenting famous tracks for the big races and having friends who own yards all over the country, the royal family has long been associated with all things horses. The Queen Mother, in particular, was an avid horse racing fan, eventually becoming the first lady of National Hunt racing. The Queen Mother’s love of horses doesn’t start and end there, though.

In fact, dating back as far as 1949, the Queen Mother was regularly invited to stay at Windsor Castle during Royal Ascot, where she eventually got the horse racing bug, particularly after forming a friendship with Major Peter Cazalet, a trainer who recorded numerous victories during an excellent career in the sport. After being convinced by Cazalet and a mutual friend of the pair, Lord Mildmay of Flete, the Queen Mother purchased a steeple-chaser and had Peter Cazalet train it. A year later, she was said to be infatuated with the horse and in love with the sport as a blossoming career in horse racing soon reached impressive levels. The sport also enabled the Queen Mother and the Queen to bond further, although, in reality, they were far from alike away from the track. Still, the pair were regularly seen at major races and were certainly avid fans of horse racing and horses in general.

 Steeple-chase connoisseur

 The Queen Mother’s favourite occasion was undoubtedly steeple-chasing, with the royal even being credited with its rise in reputation after playing second fiddle to flat-racing for much of its existence. Her love of steeple-chasing led to the Queen Mother Champion Chase being established at the world-famous Cheltenham Festival and being named after her, therefore highlighting her all-around devotion to the sport and this particular style of race. The Queen Mother backed up her love of horse racing with an array of notable wins alongside the aforementioned Peter Cazalet too, notching up an impressive 250 winners until he sadly passed away in 1973. Other memorable wins include Monaveen in the first running of the Queen Elizabeth Chase and Monicou at the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park. Despite these notable wins along the way, a prestigious Grand National title evaded the Queen Mother after coming incredibly close in 1956.

Her highlight came in 1984

Before Peter Cazalet’s death in 1974, the Queen Mother was witnessing somewhat of a golden era in the sport and, more specifically, for her horses. Double Star was a formidable opponent during that time, especially, winning 17 times. The 1960s then served up another selection of success stories for the Queen Mother, with the 1964-65 season making her the third most successful owner of the year after registering 27 impressive victories. Then, in 1974 and somewhat tragically, Peter Cazalet died of cancer, but not before the pair shared a victory together for the last time by winning the Topham Trophy at Aintree thanks to Inch Arron. The year of 1984 was arguably her most glorious accomplishment yet, though, when the Queen Mother’s horse, Special Cargo, managed to finish first in the Whitbread Gold Cup after a tense three-way photo-finish decision. Quite remarkably, the Queen Mother then received the trophy she was expected to present to a fellow trainer.

With 457 victories to her name, the Queen Mother’s relationship with horses and horse racing was certainly a fruitful one. Not only did she love the sport, but her affinity with horses was evident. She was known to visit her horses in training, regularly watching them stride along the Downs. Despite failing to build on the success she achieved with Peter Cazalet, the Queen Mother’s relationship with horses and the sport of horse racing was certainly special.

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