Queen Consort Might Take Royal Racing Role

Racing has rightfully been paying its respects to the late Queen in the days since her death Sept. 8, with plenty of people having some quite lovely things to say about her and her unquestionable passion for all things horses and racing.

I found the words of Clive Cox, who trained what proved to be the Queen’s final winner when Love Affairs won at Goodwood last week, to be particularly heartwarming, especially for the many of us who never knew or talked to the monarch.

“She was exactly how people think she’d be and was such a wonderful person to talk to—she cared about everything you spoke about, especially the horses,” Cox told my colleague James Burn.

I like that idea. I like that as a racing fan the impression you were able to form of her could be so accurate, and that people would get lost in conversations with her about horses. So, in amongst the sadness at her passing, we have to consider how fortunate we have been to have had her on our side for so long.

While we remember and appreciate the Queen’s role in racing, at some point in the not-too-distant future decisions will have to be made, and communicated, about what happens next to the horses she has in training as well as her breeding stock, both of which are considerable in number.

More importantly for racing, you could argue, the sport and industry will be eagerly awaiting who steps forward as the royal figure most willing to take on the Queen’s passion and make it their own.

It is unlikely that King Charles will follow his mother’s habit of poring over the Racing Post each day—something she continued to do all through this summer, according to the Daily Mail’s royal correspondent, who wrote last week about how two of her most loyal members of staff spent her last few weeks at Balmoral “bringing her the Racing Post each day and companionably sitting with her to watch her favorite sport on the television.”

As we know, King Charles did ride in amateur races during his younger days and has had a few runners in the last decade or so in his red, blue and black silks. However, while the Queen has averaged more than 100 runners a year in the last decade, the new King has not reached double figures with his horses.

The best clue we may have for what comes next is from John Warren, the Queen’s racing and bloodstock adviser, who told BBC Radio 4 in an interview during Royal Ascot last summer that Camilla, then the Duchess of Cornwall and now the new Queen Consort, was “besotted” by racing. King Charles, meanwhile, followed racing, but was aware it “has been his mother’s interest, so it has been at arm’s length.”

The Queen Consort also spoke about her interest in the sport with ITV Racing’s Oli Bell, while a couple of small amendments in the background of the royal racing enterprise might have been made to enable a clearer transition after the Queen’s death.

Firstly, the Queen Consort passed her own brown, red and yellow silks to the Ebony Horse Club last year, potentially leaving her free to take on the royal silks (the new King has continued to race horses in his silks). In addition, Barrier, a 2-year-old filly in training with Andrew Balding, is listed as being bred by The Royal Studs rather than the Queen, as her homebreds have always traditionally been. 

These little changes should make it easier for the Queen Consort to take over the royal racing role, while she seems the most likely to see the continuation of going racing and breeding horses as a joy and a delight, as opposed to a chore that has to be kept up for tradition’s sake.

Of course, it is the King rather than the Queen Consort who inherits the royal bloodstock, which begs the question as to whether the horses will race in partnership between the King and the Queen Consort, or if there is an official remark made about the Queen Consort taking over.

If she does take on the royal racing role, there will be plenty for her to oversee. The Queen increased her involvement in the sport in recent years and, as trainer Nicky Henderson outlined, she was still breeding National Hunt horses this year.

Last year, the Queen had her most successful year in terms of number of winners (36) and prize-money (£584,399). This year, ten trainers have raced 39 horses for the late monarch over jumps or on the Flat, with King’s Lynn ‘s success in the group 2 Temple Stakes in May the most high profile of her 21 victories in 2022.

It is no small undertaking for whoever follows the Queen and it would come as no surprise whatsoever if there is a slimming down of the royal bloodstock at some point in the next couple of years.

We are entering a period of some uncertainty in racing, having for so long had the Queen in our corner promoting our interests and drawing people to the sport—or tolerating its existence. Hopefully we do not have to wait too long for some reassuring answers.

Original article: Analysis: Queen Consort Might Take Royal Racing Role – BloodHorse

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