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13 November 2014

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You are in: Berkshire > Local radio > Ascot > All the Queen's horses

The Queen at the races

The Queen: a horse-racing expert

All the Queen's horses

Showing evident delight at her racehorse Free Agent winning at Royal Ascot in 2008, how much does the Queen actually know about her runners? Rather a lot, says her racing manager John Warren.

The Queen's arrival in her carriage is always a highlight at Royal Ascot as she heads the daily procession down the course to the Royal Enclosure.

John Warren with the Queen

John Warren with the Queen

Known for her love of racing she has enjoyed 20 winners at Royal Ascot, most recently with Free Agent in 2008.

But while the majority of us are more interested in what our monarch is going to be wearing each day, she has her mind on much more serious issues.

"Certainly going into a race, I think like any racehorse owner there is anxiety," says the Queen's racing manager and Royal bloodstock advisor John Warren, "but in the Queen's fashion that might manifest itself in perhaps her being a little bit more quiet.

"She's thinking about the competition and all the factors and taking it all very much on board. She's been going to Ascot races for 60-something years and I don't think she's ever missed a meeting."

John Warren with some of his horses

John Warren with some of his horses

The Queen first attended Royal Ascot still a princess when she was 19 in 1945. Her first victory was with Choir Boy in the Royal Hunt Cup in 1952.

John Warren is based at Highclere Stud near Newbury and manages her horses, which are with four different trainers. But while he liaises with the trainers as to which horse suits which type of race, he says the Queen herself is also heavily involved in all aspects of her runners.

"The Queen owns 20 brood mares and I sit with the Queen and we work out which stallion suits which mare. From that point we organise the mares to be covered.

"The Queen takes a very close interest in all aspects of the breeding process, so she will not only decide on the matings, she will decide their rearing policies and how they're reared.

Princess Elizabeth circa 1950 studying the form guide on the first day of Ascot

Princess Elizabeth circa 1950 studies a form guide

"There's a stud manager in Norfolk that actually oversees the rearing of the horses on a daily basis, the Queen is informed on a regular basis for her feedback because she really wants to know and understand what's going on."

When the foal becomes a year old John and the Queen also jointly decide on which trainer they go to.

Before racing day the Queen follows the form of all the other runners to know what the competition is, and John says that she "knows all the characters involved in the racing industry".

The Queen also knows the Ascot track "inside out".

"Interestingly on the way to the races as you know the Queen goes in the carriage. And as a consequence she has a very good idea of what the going is like according to the noise that the wheels on the carriage make and the noise that the horses that pull the carriage make," says John.

"She's your consummate professional racing owner/ breeder and thoroughly enjoys every moment of it."

last updated: 16/06/2009 at 16:08
created: 16/06/2009

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