Bygones - Carlton House cheers the Queen with thrilling win at York’s Dante Stakes

YORK’S Dante Stakes continues to enjoy a long association with equine royalty – 10 champion three-year-old colts from St Paddy to Golden Horn have won the blue riband Epsom Derby after winning this acclaimed Classic trial.

This was the Queen's Carlton House winning the 2011 Dante Stakes at York under Ryan Moore on a day of Royal history.
This was the Queen's Carlton House winning the 2011 Dante Stakes at York under Ryan Moore on a day of Royal history.

Yet it is also 10 years since Flat racing’s most famous patron – the Queen – saw her regal colours carried to Dante victory by Carlton House before her horse finished an agonising third at Epsom behind the fast-finishing Pour Moi.

After all, the Queen had first set her heart on winning the Derby since her beloved Aureole was a well-beaten second to Pinza, and the newly-knighted Sir Gordon Richards, in 1953 – Coronation year.

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But the Derby-day experience enabled the Queen to share her passion for racing with the newly-married Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who joined the Royal family at Epsom for the big race.

The Queen and Duchess of Cornwall at Windsor on the day Her Majesty's Carlton House won the Dante Stakes at York.

Her Majesty’s quiet ability to combine duty with racing, particularly in her latter years, was epitomised by the manner in which Carlton House surged clear in the Dante under jockey Ryan Moore for trainer Sir Michael Stoute.

For, while historians will note May 12, 2011, as the day Her Majesty became the second longest-serving monarch, surpassing the reign of George III, she will always associate the day with the Dante – a race inaugurated in 1958 to commemorate Yorkshire’s last winner of the Derby.

Unfortunately, the Queen’s diary, agreed long in advance, meant she was committed to attending the Royal Windsor Horse Show as new photos were release of her riding with her two grandchildren born to the Earl and Countess of Wessex.

There was also the matter of Carlton House’s transition from a juvenile, he won at Newbury in October 2010, to a top three-year-old ahead of his seasonal reappearance on Knavesmire where Aidan O’Brien’s Seville dominated the pre-race betting exchanges.

Carlton House and Ryan Moore surge clear of the favourite Seville in the 2011 Dante Stakes at York.

Yet Carlton House became an emphatic winner of the Dante after charging through a narrow gap approaching the final furlong. From then, the result was not in doubt as racegoers celebrated a Royal victory.

A deft reorganisation of the Royal schedule enabled the Queen to make her excuses and return to Windsor Castle to watch the running of the race.

The change of plan even caught John Warren, the Queen’s racing manager, by surprise because he was on the phone to Her Majesty, as planned, to provide a running commentary.

She did not mind. “She was very excited by it,” Warren related afterwards. He later disclosed to The Yorkshire Post that the Queen had, in fact, let out a victorious “yelp” as her colt crossed the winning line in style.

Ryan Moore acknowledges the crowds after Carlton House's Dante win.

This disclosure was far less contentious than the revelation by David Cameron, the then Prime Minister, that Her Majesty “purred” with delight after Scottish voters rejected independence in the 2014 referendum.

The win also provided the perfect backdrop to the historic state visit that the Queen – and the late Prince Philip – would make to Ireland just days after the Dante meeting; it certainly helped break the ice with her hosts in the Emerald Isle which remains one of the powerhouses of international racing.

But, crucially, the Queen’s grace after Carlton House’s heartache in the Derby also showed that Her Majesty is, in fact, no different from any other owner whose hopes, and dreams, will be carried by a select group of thoroughbreds in the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes this Thursday.

As she once told legendary racing commentator Sir Peter O’Sullevan, her great friend, ally and confidante: “My philosophy about racing is simple.

“I enjoy breeding a horse that is faster than other people’s. I enjoy going racing but basically I love horses. A thoroughbred epitomises a really good horse to me, and my particular hope for the future, like all breeders of horses, is to breed the winner of the Derby.”

She has not changed.

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