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An enduring love of horses

At the Windsor Horse Show in 2004. Carl De Souza/Getty

The first thing you notice at Sandringham, says BBC Sport’s Frank Keogh, is a “life-size sculpture” of the Queen’s racehorse Estimate, which won the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in 2013. It’s a mark of the monarch’s “enduring love of horse racing”. Her equine charges – whose names included “Duty Bound”, “Constitution” and “Discretion” – won more than 1,800 races, including four of the five British Classics. The first newspaper the Queen read each morning was the Racing Post. The only person guaranteed to be put straight through to her by telephone was Lord “Porchey” Carnarvon, her longtime racing manager.

This equestrian obsession was a boon for diplomacy, says Charles Moore in The Daily Telegraph. If I said that President Reagan sided with Britain during the Falklands War because he didn’t want to miss his ride in Windsor Great Park with the Queen, “I would be exaggerating, but not much”. Reagan once gave the monarch a computer that had been programmed to track how her horses were doing, says Horse & Hound. He hadn’t realised that “the royal household already conveyed the outcome of every single run instantly to the Queen, wherever she was in the world”.