Queen Elizabeth is unable to attend the Royal Ascot this year due to coronavirus, marking the first time in her reign she's missed the horse racing festival

By Stephanie Petit
June 17, 2020 12:55 PM
Queen Elizabeth
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Queen Elizabeth has a big reason to celebrate!

The 94-year-old monarch's horse Tactical, ridden by jockey James Doyle, won at Royal Ascot on Wednesday. In a fun twist, the victory came in a race called the Windsor Castle Stakes — and the Queen happens to be currently staying at Windsor Castle with her husband, Prince Philip.

This marked the first time a horse owned by Queen Elizabeth won at Royal Ascot in four years when Dartmouth won the Hardwicke Stakes.

Unfortunately, the Queen was not able to celebrate the victory in person. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the monarch will not attend Royal Ascot for the first time in her 68-year reign. Instead, the festival of horse racing will go on without the usual crowds, royal carriage procession and trophy presentations — and the Queen will watch on TV from Windsor Castle, where she has been isolating with Prince Philip, who recently turned 99, since March.

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The Queen continued her tradition of writing the introduction to the racecards, in which she praised everyone who made the races possible under unprecedented circumstances.

"I send my best wishes to the thousands of racing professionals and enthusiasts who will join me in celebrating this year's Royal Ascot," she said. "In these challenging times, we are once again delighted to welcome the best horses and jockeys from across the world and pay tribute to those who have helped make this race meeting possible."

"This year Ascot will feel different for many, as it is so often a chance for friends, families and colleagues to gather together and enjoy a shared passion," the Queen continued. "I am sure however, that with the valiant efforts of the organisers, owners, trainers and stable staff, it will remain one of Britain's finest sporting occasions and a highlight of the racing calendar."

Queen Elizabeth and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands at Royal Ascot 2019
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Throughout her life, the Queen has always had a fondness for horses and was given her first horse (a Shetland pony) when she was just 4 years old.

The monarch also attends the Windsor Horse Show every year and is known to get rather spirited when watching horse races.

Her love of horseback riding has also been passed on to the next generations of royals as well. The Queen’s daughter, Princess Anne, became the first royal to compete in the Olympics when she rode in the equestrian three-day event at the 1976 Games in Montreal. Following in her footsteps, Anne’s daughter, Zara Tindall, competed in the 2012 Olympics and won a silver medal as a member of the Great Britain Eventing Team.

Queen Elizabeth (with a horse groom) on a ride at Windsor Castle in 2016.
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Queen Elizabeth recently revealed her favorite horses, both for riding and watching on the racetrack, in a royal edition of the U.K. magazine Horse & Hound. Her head groom Terry Pendry also shared that she now sticks to riding ponies.

"A little closer to the ground, so to speak," he said.