Queen delight at historic Ascot glory

Frank Dalleres
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Estimate takes Gold Cup for monarch as Sir Henry’s widow wins on Ladies’ Day

THE QUEEN was “thrilled” yesterday after her filly Estimate stole the show at Royal Ascot, becoming the first Gold Cup winner for a reigning monarch in more than two centuries of Britain’s most famous staying contest.

Her Majesty’s victory added to the resonance of Ladies’ Day, coming shortly after late trainer Sir Henry Cecil’s widow enjoyed her first winner since his death with Riposte in the Ribblesdale Stakes.

The Queen rose to her feet as Ryan Moore staved off the challenges of Simenon and Top Trip to steer the Sir Michael Stoute-trained 7/2 favourite home and confirm her 22nd triumph at Royal Ascot.

Relinquishing her traditional duty of presenting the trophy to the winner, she then received the Gold Cup from son Prince Andrew.

“It’s amazing, this is her passion and her life and she’s here every year and she strives to have winners,” said the Queen’s grandson, Peter Phillips.

“To win the big one at Royal Ascot means so much to her. Everyone is just thrilled, it’s very close to her heart and the day was very special.”

Stoute admitted his surprise at Estimate’s victory – the first for a reigning British king or queen in the race’s 207-year history – and reaffirmed Her Majesty’s delight.

“It’s a special thrill for the Queen. She said it gave her great pleasure and she thanked everyone involved,” said the trainer.

“I really felt it was a tough task, I wasn’t confident at all with her [Estimate] taking on the boys. It’s a great honour to win for Her Majesty the Queen. Her preparation had gone well and she was bred to have a big chance of getting the trip but she had to step up to beat these boys.”

Moore was banned for two days for drifting into other horses, following a stewards’ inquiry, but the result was unchanged.

“All we had was this race in mind,” he said. “It’s great to ride any winner for the Queen but to do it in the Gold Cup is very special. We had a good draw and the pace wasn’t mad at the beginning, she relaxed so well over the final furlongs.”

Moore almost rode another winner for the Queen in the King George V Stakes, but 7/2 favourite Bold Sniper was pipped by Elidor.

Lady Cecil fought back tears and paid tribute to her late husband, who saddled a record 75 winners before losing his battle with cancer last week, after Tom Queally guided 9/2 shot Riposte home more than two lengths clear of Just Pretending, with Elik third.

“That was for Henry, for the Prince and all the staff at Warren Place. I don’t really have the words to say what I am feeling right now but I’m sure that people have the idea,” she said.

“Henry was just adored by so many people, even people who never met him. We hardly dared dream that we would have a winner, but Henry would be relishing this because he loved Ascot.”

Earlier, American challenger No Nay Never set a new course record in winning the opening Norfolk Stakes by a length from favourite Coach House and Wind Fire.

Remote justified his favourite’s status in the Tercentenary Stakes, while 20/1 shot Roca Tumu stole the show to win the Britannia Stakes.