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Smiles and cheers as Queen returns to Royal Ascot

·4-min read
The Queen attends Royal Ascot on Saturday, where she received a warm welcome from the crowds - Chris Jackson/Getty Images
The Queen attends Royal Ascot on Saturday, where she received a warm welcome from the crowds - Chris Jackson/Getty Images

After missing the first four days, the Queen returned to her beloved Royal Ascot on Saturday.

But although she was enthusiastically welcomed by the crowds, perhaps she should have spent the day 500 miles north of the famous racecourse.

While her horses had disappointing results at Ascot, another one of her animals won something truly special at Balmoral.

The majestic-looking Gusgurlach of Balmoral, a two-year home bred bull, was judged both male and overall champion at the Royal Highland Show Showcase. He is one of eight bulls in Her Majesty's fold of Highland Cattle, which contains 65 breeding cows and 30 young females.

Another of the Queen's bulls, Uachdaran of Balmoral, also won the junior section. The wins made up for disappointment two years ago, when two of her bulls were banned from taking part after officials ruled they broke the rules because they did not have rings in their noses.

The monarch has been raising Highland cows at her Balmoral estate since 1953 and won prizes across the country for the quality of her livestock. Her animals have commanded premium prices, fetching more than £7,000 at auction.

The majestic-looking Gusgurlach of Balmoral - Mike Merritt
The majestic-looking Gusgurlach of Balmoral - Mike Merritt

Royal Ascot was held behind closed doors last year but was being staged this time round as part of the reopening of society following the Covid lockdowns.

There was delight when Her Majesty arrived at 2pm. She was welcomed with waves, cheers and applause by the crowd, overjoyed to see her after a two-year absence.

At around 1.30pm, announcers had let it be known that the Queen was on her way, drawing a large section of the crowd to the paddock to watch her entrance.

She was driven around the paddock as the band played the national anthem, with the crowd joining in.

The Queen, who was not wearing a face mask due to the meeting being held as a Government test event, was introduced to fellow guests and dignitaries.

One of her horses, Reach for the Moon, was riding in the first race, the Chesham Stakes.

The Queen was not wearing a face mask because of Ascot's status as a test event - Peter Cziborra/Action Images via Reuters
The Queen was not wearing a face mask because of Ascot's status as a test event - Peter Cziborra/Action Images via Reuters

Her Majesty, wearing an Angela Kelly outfit including a pleated mint coat and matching hat with a pink and mint floral dress, was seen talking to jockey Frankie Dettori ahead of the start.

Reach For The Moon, the first of four horses running in her colours on Saturday, finished a close second in the Chesham Stakes at 2.30pm.

The monarch was not seen in the royal box during the race, opting to watch it privately, but had the chance to inspect the colt in the Parade Ring after it crossed the finish line.

Another of her horses, Tactical, failed to make the top three in the 3.05 Jersey Stakes. Her third, King’s Lynn, came third, in the Wokingham Stakes.

Her last horse, Chalk Stream, finished third, though it didn't seem to dampen the Queen's delight at being back at the races.

The Queen talks to her racing manager John Warren at Ascot - Andrew Matthews/PA
The Queen talks to her racing manager John Warren at Ascot - Andrew Matthews/PA

The Queen's eldest grandson, Peter Phillips, was also seen arriving earlier in the day. The carriage procession that usually proceeds each day's racing did not take place.

There had been high hopes that the monarch would attend all five days of the event this year, as up to 12,000 visitors have been allowed in every day.

She missed the opening day as she was greeting Scott Morrison, the Australian Prime Minister, during an audience in the Oak Room at Windsor Castle.

Neither did she attend Ladies Day, where she has previously presented the prestigious Gold Cup prize – missing it for only the second time in 69 years – with Princess Anne, 70, presenting the trophy instead.

Ascot veteran Richard Fitzwilliams said: "Racegoers have much missed the Queen, who places such value on Royal Ascot because of her expertise in equestrian matters and passion for the turf."

On Thursday, the Royal family sent a tweet to honour the Queen's love of racing and Royal Ascot. The message was accompanied by a montage of pictures of the Queen there over the years and read: "The Queen is Patron of @Ascot and has attended #RoyalAscot almost every year.

"With a passion for horse racing since childhood, HM is the owner and breeder of many thoroughbred horses, a number of which have won at #RoyalAscot."

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