Estimate grabs gold and glory for Queen Elizabeth II
Joanna Morgan trains her first Royal Ascot winner after Roca Tumu storms home to land Britannia Handicap
Queen Elizabeth II with her racing manager John Warren after Estimate’s win in the Gold Cup.
Tradition demands that Royal Ascot should maintain some composure at all times but the sangfroid slipped yesterday afternoon as the Queen Elizabeth II became the first reigning monarch in the 207-year history of the Gold Cup to win the Royal meeting’s most famous race. Estimate, the 7/2 favourite, delivered the result that most of the Ladies’ Day crowd wanted to see and even a big-screen replay of the winning owner’s reaction in the final furlong was enough to raise a cheer.
It was a victory that had to be earned and the filly Estimate had only a neck to spare at the line over Simenon, who was a winner on both the first and final days of the Royal meeting 12 months ago. A well-judged ride by Ryan Moore also played its part, and Estimate’s jockey was in the right position to pick his moment to challenge in the straight. Moore hit the front a furlong from home and, while Simenon finished well, the winner battled on gamely and was holding her own at the line.
Estimate is a half-sister to Enzeli, who won the Gold Cup for the Aga Khan in 1999, and was bred after the Aga offered the use of several of his mares to the Queen as an 80th birthday present. Monsun, a German-bred influence for stamina, was recommended as a suitable partner for the mare Ebaziya by John Warren, the Queen’s bloodstock adviser, and Estimate, a rare four-year-old filly with the stamina to stay 20 furlongs, was the result.
“In the build-up we were trying not to get too excited,” Warren, who was sitting next to the Queen in the Royal Box during the race, said afterwards. “No monarch had ever won the race and it seemed too good to be true to think that it could happen, particularly being a filly against colts.
“So we were all trying our hardest to keep the excitement under control but I’m afraid with one furlong to run the excitement was too much. I can’t remember seeing the Queen so happy and excited and thrilled, so it was just a truly magical moment.”
‘Rates as high’
Estimate was her trainer Michael Stoute’s first Group One winner since Workforce’s success in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 2010, and his first victory in one of the Royal meeting’s feature events for a decade.
“This rates as high as anything in my career,” Stoute said, “and I know it will have given the Queen enormous pleasure because she has such a love for her breeding programme and that’s why it will have been a bigger thrill to win with a filly rather than a colt.
“There was great teamwork behind this filly because sometimes she can be a pain in the arse. Trip-wise, there had to be doubts but the distaff side of her pedigree screams stamina and her half-brother won the Gold Cup.”
Breeding racehorses fascinates Estimate’s owner even more than testing them on the track and it remains to be seen whether the filly will be kept in training to return to Ascot next June or retire to the paddocks to produce a new generation of stayers. Whatever the decision, however, her place in Royal Ascot history is secure.
It will not be recorded as such but the first Royal Ascot winner to be saddled by Lady Cecil was, in the thoughts of everyone at the course, the 76th to be sent here by Henry Cecil, who died on June 11th.
Riposte, in the Frankel colours of Prince Khalid Abdullah, took the Group Two Ribblesdale Stakes and nearly 62,000 racegoers welcomed the chance to pay further respects to the most successful trainer the Royal meeting has seen.
“That was for Henry, the Prince and all of the staff at Warren Place, for Team Cecil,” Lady Cecil said as Riposte returned to the enclosure.
Joanna Morgan was one of the first female professional jockeys before becoming a trainer. She made history in 1978 when she was the first female professional to ride at Royal Ascot on Gallowshill Boy in the Queen’s Vase. Yesterday she made a bit more Royal Ascot history when celebrating her first Royal Ascot winner after Roca Tumu, partnered by Billy Lee, held off Tarikhi by a neck in the Britannia.