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The Derby Festival

Her Majesty The Queen & The Epsom Derby

Her Majesty The Queen

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We had the privilege of welcoming Her Majesty The Queen to The Derby Festival for nearly 70 years. The 2016 Derby Festival was a particularly momentous year as we celebrated her 90th birthday.

As an avid racehorse owner the Queen enjoyed watching many horses run in her colours on the historic Epsom Downs.

Her Majesty's First Runner

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Just four days after her coronation in 1953 Her Majesty attended a sun-drenched Epsom Downs racecourse to watch her first runner in the Derby.

Aureole, bred by The Queen’s late father, King George VI, finished second and is the closest Her Majesty has come to victory in the race.

A year later, the impressive Aureole returned to Epsom Downs to triumph in the Coronation Cup, Her Majesty’s first major victory at the racecourse.

Classic success on the Downs

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It was in 1957 that Her Majesty first enjoyed a Classic success on the Downs when Carroza, who was leased to The Queen by the National Stud, won The Oaks. Amid huge cheering, Her Majesty led her three-year-old filly into the famous Winners’ Enclosure.

It was two decades later in 1977, the year of the Silver Jubilee, that The Queen enjoyed her second Oaks success with Dunfermline.

Her Majesty narrowly missed out on a third Oaks winner in 2001 when homebred Flight Of Fancy, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, finished second.

Her Majesty’s 2011 Derby contender, Carlton House, carried with him a greater sense of expectation than any of his predecessors and was sent off the 5/2 favourite. There was huge media interest ahead of the race but sadly there was no fairytale result as the colt lost a shoe and finished third, a length behind the successful French raider Pour Moi.

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The Sport of 'Kings'

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Her attendance at the Derby enabled her to exercise her passion for ‘the Sport of Kings’.

Her Majesty The Queen enjoying her day at Epsom Downs, engrossed in the adrenaline rush of racing and the unique carnival atmosphere of Derby Day.

Her Majesty The Queen's 90th Birthday

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The Queen has demonstrated an unwavering dedication and understanding of the breeding, training and racing of the thoroughbred throughout her long reign.

The Queen’s involvement in racehorse ownership began in 1949 and has spanned eight decades. In celebration of her 90th Birthday, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II presented the Derby trophy to the winning connections of the 2016 Derby, the first time during her reign that Her Majesty The Queen has presented this prestigious trophy.

Additionally, the Coronation Cup was re-named for 2016 only as The Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Cup in celebration of Her Majesty The Queen’s 90th birthday.

The Queen & Lester Piggott

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At the Derby Festival 2019, The Queen met the legendary Lester Piggott before she unveiled a life-size bronze statue of the nine-time Derby-winning jockey. 

It was the first of nine bronze statues by portrait sculptor William Newton that will be installed at nine different racecourses around the country in honour of Piggott. The Queen was at Epsom for all nine of Piggott's Derby victories, and in 1957 he rode her own Carrozza to Oaks success.


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