ROYAL ASCOT 2020: Queen left 'buzzing' after claiming 24th Royal Ascot winner

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Jockey James Doyle wearing the Queen's silks riding Tactical wins The Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot
Jockey James Doyle wearing the Queen's silks riding Tactical wins The Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot

It is exactly six miles as the crow flies from Windsor Castle to the winning post at Ascot and if you listened very, very carefully you could almost make out the roar of delight, writes James Toney.

Royal Ascot's most famous punter bagged her 24th winner at the meeting as The Queen's Tactical, trained by Andrew Balding, powered down the rail to win the appropriately-titled Windsor Castle Stakes.

It's seven years since Estimate - whose statue graces the parade ring here - won the showpiece Gold Cup and four years since Dartmouth's victory secured her last Royal Ascot prize.

Now Her Majesty is back on the winner's board, the latest chapter in a 67-year story that started when Choir Boy won in 1953, just days after her Coronation.

"Her Majesty got such a buzz out of that," said John Warren, the Queen's racing manager.

"Breeding this race has been such a big deal for her and the fact she and team nurtured this horse from birth, and bred her mother, has been just a great journey.

"She was absolutely thrilled and wanted to say thanks for such a huge team effort at the Royal Stud."

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They play the national anthem shortly before racing each day, a rather muted version to the pomp and circumstance we usually witness.

It's Royal Ascot but not as you know it this year but for those that said it was royal in name only - think again, as Tactical trainer Balding admitted relief he's delivered for his famous owner.

"It is obviously a huge thrill for all of us to have a Royal winner at the Royal meeting. I feel very lucky," he said.

"My Dad Ian was lucky enough to have a Royal winner here, and my uncle William had a couple, so it is nice to keep up with them.

"On a raceday we tend to give her a ring in the morning and tell her our thoughts, which I did this morning, so she was well-informed. She will be thrilled, I am sure."

Doyle, who'd won the day's big race when John Gosden's Lord North claimed the Prince of Wales's Stakes, currently sits second on the meeting's jockey standings with two wins and two seconds - within striking range of Jim Crowley, who has banked four victories in the first two days racing.

"This is what dreams are made of," he said.

"When you start off riding as an apprentice you want to ride winners here. I started off for a few years without getting close to a winner and then you finally get your first one.

"I have hit the board a couple of times for Her Majesty at this meeting so to get a winner for her is very special.

"I have been lucky enough to meet Her Majesty at the gallops at Beckhampton - that was the first time I met her. I have been lucky enough to ride a few winners for her and now to ride a Royal Ascot winner means everything.

"It is just a huge honour. It is not one of the flagship races here, but it is the connections involved - it's great."

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