Tradition demands that Royal Ascot should maintain some composure at all times but the sangfroid slipped on Thursday afternoon as the Queen became the first reigning monarch in the 207-year history of the Gold Cup to win the Royal meeting's most famous race.
Estimate, the 7-2 favourite, delivered the result that most of the Ladies' Day crowd wanted to see and even a big-screen replay of the winning owner's reaction in the final furlong was enough to raise a cheer.
It was a victory that had to be earned and the filly Estimate had only a neck to spare at the line over Simenon, who was a winner on both the first and final days of the Royal meeting 12 months ago. But Estimate too already had a win here to her name, in the two-mile Queen's Vase, and while Thursday's race was just the seventh of her career, she had enough courage to overcome her relative inexperience on her first start at two-and-a-half. A well-judged ride by Ryan Moore also played its part, and Estimate's jockey was in the right position to pick his moment to challenge in the straight. Moore hit the front a furlong from home and, while Simenon finished well, the winner battled on gamely and was holding her own atthe line.
Estimate is a half-sister to Enzeli, who won the Gold Cup for the Aga Khan in 1999, and was bred after the Aga offered the use of several of his mares to the Queen as an 80th birthday present. Monsun, a German-bred influence for stamina, was recommended as a suitable partner for the mare Ebaziya by John Warren, the Queen's bloodstock adviser, and Estimate, a rare four-year-old filly with the stamina to stay 20 furlongs, was the result.
"In the build-up we were trying not to get too excited," Warren, who was sitting next to the Queen in the Royal Box during the race, said afterwards. "No monarch had ever won the race and it seemed too good to be true to think that it could happen, particularly being a filly against colts.
"So we were all trying our hardest to keep the excitement under control but I'm afraid with one [furlong] to run the excitement was too much. I can't remember seeing the Queen so happy and excited and thrilled, so it was just a truly magical moment.
"For a lady that has given so much to this country to win what is probably, after the Derby, the most historical race in the calendar, it gives me so much pleasure to know that she has got such enjoyment and happiness from it. It was an amazing event."
Estimate was her trainer Sir Michael Stoute's first Group One winner since Workforce's success in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in 2010, and his first victory in one of the Royal meeting's feature events for a decade.
"This rates as high as anything [in my career]," Stoute said, "and I know it will have given the Queen enormous pleasure 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.
"There was great teamwork behind this filly because sometimes she can be a pain in the arse. Trip-wise, there had to be doubts but the distaff side of her pedigree screams extreme stamina and her half-brother won the Gold Cup. She's full of guts, very courageous and she relaxes so well in races, which makes her a good staying filly."
Bookmakers were, as so often, quick to suggest that Estimate's victory had been an expensive one but she set off at 7-2 having been a 7-1 chance in places on Thursday morning and on this occasion at least there is little doubt that the layers paid out more than they received.
"We lost a packet," David Williams, of Ladbrokes, said, "but the day will more than pay for itself in upbeat coverage over the days, weeks and months to come. Sometimes we need to look beyond the balance sheet … and Estimate's win could be the best news for racing and betting in a long time."
Breeding racehorses fascinates Estimate's owner even more than testing them on the track and it remains to be seen whether the filly will be kept in training to return to Ascot next June or retire to the paddocks to produce a new generation of stayers. Whatever the decision, however, her place in Royal Ascot history is secure.
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