Racing ‘offers Queen escapism’ as monarch plans to attend Ascot week

·3-min read

The Queen’s racing manager has described how horse racing offers the monarch a “very broad escapism” from all that she has to deal with in her life as he revealed her hopes to attend Royal Ascot later in the week.

The monarch, whose horse King’s Lynn is running in the King’s Stand Stakes on the first day of the famous meet, will be watching the racing on television from Windsor Castle on Tuesday.

John Warren described the head of state as “fanatic” about horse racing, and said her energy levels were “incredible” despite being five years away from turning 100.

2017 Investec Epsom Derby Festival – Investec Derby Day – Epsom Racecourse
The Queen with her racing manager John Warren at the Epsom Derby in 2017 (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Mr Warren told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “It’s remarkable.

“The Queen’s energy levels are incredible.

“She’s 95.

“She went down to the G7 this week, and trundled back on the train in the middle of the night and the energy will be raised higher again for a week like Ascot.”

The Queen has a number of runners at the Berkshire racecourse, with Mr Warren tipping Tactical in the Jersey Stakes on Saturday as a potential winner.

Racegoers are being welcomed back to Royal Ascot for the first time since the pandemic began.

Punters dressed in outlandish hats, summer dresses and smart suits will cheer on the jockeys over the next five days.

Mr Warren added: “Obviously the Queen would love to attend, as you know she’s fanatic about racing, watching racing and breeding horses, and has been going to Ascot all of her adult life.

“So, it’s a shame to miss an event.

“The plan at the moment is to see how it goes towards the latter part of the week and if the Queen’s able to come because she’s got runners, then, fingers crossed, it will happen.”

Royal Ascot 2021 – Day One
The Parade Ring ahead of the start of Royal Ascot at Ascot (Andrew Matthews/PA)

There will be no traditional carriage procession if the Queen does makes an appearance.

The monarch will also not be able to examine horses in the paddock, as she usually does, because of the Covid restrictions on movement between areas.

Mr Warren said: “In the past, she would have gone and looked at horses in the paddock, even though they weren’t hers because she is so fascinated in the breed so she’d want go and look at the stallion prospects of the future.”

He described how the Queen scrutinises the winners of every race daily to see if the stallions offer potential for breeding.

Royal Ascot – Day Five – Ascot Racecourse
The Queen presents a trophy to jockey James Doyle at Royal Ascot in 2019 (Jonathan Brady/PA)

“Every race that takes place every day of the week, the Queen will certainly read the Racing Post every morning, look at the breeding of all the winners the day before, and see that these stallions that she uses will be potential horses for her own mares,” he said.

“It’s a deep fascination, a very broad escapism for all the other things that the Queen has to deal with in her life.”

The monarch, who is the nation’s longest reigning sovereign, has kept busy with her duties as head of state since the death of the Duke of Edinburgh in April.

Royal Ascot 2021 – Day One
Table setting before the start of Royal Ascot (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The royal family has also experienced a turbulent time with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Oprah interview and Harry’s criticism of his family on other programmes and podcasts.

Bookmaker William Hill has already opened a book on a favourite bet among racegoers, the colour of the Queen’s hat, with blue the early favourite with odds of 3-1.

Ascot was staged behind closed doors last year but this year was selected to take part in the Government’s Events Research Programme on behalf of the sport of racing.

Each day 12,000 racegoers will be allowed to watch the sporting spectacle after providing negative Covid-19 tests.

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