Grey clouds hung in sky on Ladies’ Day at Royal Ascot but Estimate shone through as the Sir Michael Stoute-trained filly provided The Queen with victory in the feature race of the week – the Group 1 Gold Cup (4000m).
Her Majesty had enjoyed 21 previous Royal Ascot wins, the first in 1953, and Estimate extended the tally much to the joy of the 62,000-strong crowd who roared home the well-backed 7/2 favourite.
The victory was the first time in its 206-year history that the most prestigious of staying contests has been won in the colours of the reigning monarch.
The Queen watched on with unbridled joy from the Royal Box as Ryan Moore punched the four-year-old filly into the lead inside the final 400 metres of the marathon 4000-metre journey and held the challenge of Emirates Melbourne Cup-bound Simenon by a neck.
Estimate was only having the seventh start of her career and travelled into the unknown in terms of distance having scored over the trip of 3200 metres in the Sagaro Stakes last month.
Stoute, celebrating his 66th Royal Ascot win, said: “This rates as highly as anything and I know the pleasure it will have given The Queen because she has such a love for her breeding programme, and that’s why it will have been a bigger thrill to win with a filly, rather than a colt.
“Great teamwork went behind this filly, because sometimes she can be a very difficult.
“I always felt it was a massive task because she had to up her game from the Sagaro Stakes but her preparation had gone extremely well. She likes this place – they’ll have to frame more races for her here.
“Things have gone very smoothly. As a trainer you walk the box when horses have had a setback and get behind schedule, and there are doubts about whether they can run. Trip wise their had to be doubts, but the distaff side of her pedigree screams extreme stamina and her half-brother won the Gold Cup in 1999.
“She’s full of guts, very courageous and she relaxes so well in races which makes her a good staying filly. She’ll have a rest now because she’s had a very hard race.
“We’ve given her time between races in the past and looked after her, and now she’s looking after us – I could make a case for her getting better.
“This win is very high on my list, because it’s been done for a lady who, never mind being The Queen, loves racing, is a great supporter of racing and is so good for British racing.”
Moore added: “We’ve always had this race in mind, she won well.
“It’s fantastic to ride a winner here for the Queen and in the Gold Cup, it’s very special. She was holding them.”
Multiple champion Irish National Hunt trainer Willie Mullins was thrilled to be second with Simenon and now has his eyes set on another prestigious contest at Flemington on November 5th.
Mullins said: “He’s run a career best, which I said he might have to, and we’re very pleased.
“It’s probably a fantastic result for racing. I would have loved to have won and I’ll probably never be in this position again – hopefully one day.
“The stands just erupted from about the furlong marker and everyone was rushing from the front of the stand as everyone wanted to get a position.
“We want to take our horse to the Melbourne Cup. It’s going to make November a little busy!”
French stayer Top Trip ran into third while defending champion Colour Vision was far from disgraced in fourth place, little more than three lengths adrift of the winner.