It was a rare moment when her public brow slid as the 87-year-old – with all the enthusiasm of a young girl – watched from the royal box and pushed her mare towards the winning line.
It was an extraordinary moment that will long remain in the memory of many observers as it offered a human side rarely displayed among all the pomp and protocol.
Races were among the rare occasions when the Queen could let her guard down in public for a few moments and she could mingle with racing fans as a pure racing fan. However, as sportspeople know, she was far from just a fan.
Horses were central to the Queen’s life from an early age.
She was only 16 when she first visited a racing stable. Her father, George VI, accompanied her to take a look at two top racehorses – Big Game and Sun Chariot.
“She watched them do a few gallops ahead of some big races coming up,” journalist and author Julian Muscat told CNN in 2018.
“Afterwards, she went to pat them on the head and loved the feel and silkiness of their coats.
“The story goes that she didn’t wash her hands the rest of the day.”
His love for horses remained intact.
Whether it’s his success breeding native ponies, his equine charity work or, most notably, his long and successful relationship with the thoroughbred racehorse.
And while Estimate may have provided the Queen with her finest victory as owner, she has enjoyed widespread success with several winners to her name since her coronation in 1953.
She was named owner of the British flat racing champion in 1954 and 1957 and – with victories in the St Leger Stakes, Epsom Oaks, 1,000 guineas and 2,000 guineas – the only of the five British classic races that eluded her was the Epsom Derby.
Of all the horses she successfully owned, most of them were housebred.
It was an aspect of the sport in which she was particularly interested and it is said that she was satisfied to have seen this horse colt, grow up and then go to the races.
She made regular visits to the Royal Stud at Sandringham, Norfolk, and once the horses finished racing they remained in her care in retirement. His first public appearance after the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020 was of course riding one of his ponies in the grounds of Windsor Castle.
The racing world was quick to pay tribute to him after news of his death was announced.
Top jockey Frankie Dettori said it was “the honor of a lifetime” to ride for the Queen on numerous occasions.
“I will be eternally grateful for the time, kindness and humor His Majesty generously extended to me. Thank you, madam.”
It’s common to see trainers and owners briefing jockeys before races, discussing tactics and opportunities, and the Queen was no different.
If she had a horse running in her colors at Royal Ascot, there’s no doubt she would have been in the parade ring, talking to the trainer and jockey while studying the other runners in the race.
Her knowledge of racing was said to be encyclopaedic and she was the unofficial figurehead of British racing.
Such was his importance to the sport, race meetings were canceled in the UK as soon as his death was announced.
Many of the overseas horses that come to Royal Ascot from the United States, Hong Kong and Australia don’t come for the prize money, which is behind virtually all other races, but they come for the prestige, much of which was associated with the Queen.
She missed the festival for the first time since her coronation this year as she continued to experience mobility issues.
“Sitting with the Queen is a memory that I will never forget in my entire life,” USA coach Wesley Ward said at Royal Ascot in 2016.
“We had a wonderful conversation about horses and she was very interested in talking to me, as my horses pull forward and I’ve been lucky enough to win a few that way. And she asked me all about my tactics and how I train them to do it.
“So I just looked at her and said, ‘Well, when you go to the front, they have to catch you. And she said, ‘That’s what I tell my coaches’… It was like you were sitting there talking to someone who goes to the races. You must pinch yourself and realize you’re talking to the Queen of England. .”
His interest in horse racing has been passed down from generation to generation, and although it has never been stronger than during the Queen’s reign, there are high hopes that Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall , who have had runners from Royal Ascot in recent years, will continue the royal tradition.