The prospect of a Royal winner at this most prestigious of meetings is always eagerly anticipated but in 2013 the Gold Cup went the way of a reigning monarch for the one and only time.
Estimate carried the colours of the late Queen Elizabeth II to a narrow success under Ryan Moore for trainer Sir Michael Stoute on an afternoon that will forever be enshrined in the tapestry of Royal Ascot.
Royal Ascot 2023 is looming large on the horizon and we are taking a look back at some memorable contests that have unfolded on the famous stretch of Berkshire turf.
Watch every race from Royal Ascot 2023 via the bet365 live as the pinnacle meeting of the Flat season and a true British sporting institution takes place from Tuesday 20th June – Saturday 24th June.
|Where||Ascot Racecourse, Berkshire|
|When||Tuesday 20th June - Saturday 24th June 2023|
|How to watch||bet365 Sports Live Streaming, ITV Racing & Sky Sports Racing|
When The Queen's horse Estimate claimed victory in Royal Ascot's Gold Cup in 2013 it was the first time in the race's 207-year history that it had been won by a reigning monarch.
That achievement remains unmatched today and it was an afternoon the racing world is not likely to forget any time soon.
The first of her Ascot winners came just two weeks after her coronation with Choir Boy in the 1953 Hunt Cup and Queen Elizabeth II had always been a strong supporter of racing.
In the intervening period, she counted 20-plus further winners at this most iconic of meetings – effectively her meeting on her racetrack – but none meant more than when Estimate held on grimly to win the biggest prize of all at Ascot.
His Highness The Aga Khan gifted Her Majesty the 2009 filly foal out of Ebaziya, by the top German stallion Monsun, hoping that she could provide some big race wins.
She had won all the British Classics bar The Derby at Epsom, but the last of those successes came with the Oaks and St Leger heroine Dunfermline all the way back in 1977.
Competing at elite level in the modern racing game had become infinitely tougher.
Sir Michael Stoute, her chosen trainer, described Estimate as 'too big and immature to train at two' but she would eventually fill out her frame and won a maiden at Salisbury in May 2012 on her first three-year-old start.
A month later and she justified favouritism in the Queen's Vase at Royal Ascot over two-miles on soft ground – instantly giving rise to the idea she might be a future Gold Cup contender. Two further runs that season over short saw her running well in defeat but it would be the glorious summer of 2013 when Estimate fulfilled her destiny.
Winner of the Sagaro Stakes at Ascot in her comeback in May, that success was enough to see Estimate going off 7/2 favourite for the Gold Cup the following month.
Favouritism for the biggest race at the Royal Meeting only served to heighten expectations and, all of a sudden, the eyes of the world's press were on Ascot in the hopes that the Royal runner would oblige.
As Estimate nosed to the front a furlong from home, that sense of expectation reached a crescendo.
Ryan Moore had got her there but Godolphin's Colour Vision and Aidan O'Brien's Simenon flanked her and were major dangers along with French raider Top Trip.
As the winning line came close, Estimate could easily have been swallowed up, but her determination carried her home and, in the words of the often under-stated Moore, the crowd's reaction to the success was 'unlike anything else I've heard on the track'.
In the aftermath, Moore and his wife Michelle with Stoute and his partner Coral Pritchard-Gordon, were invited to Windsor Castle that evening for a celebration.
The trainer would reveal only that 'we had a very pleasant evening there' but it was the immediate post-race reaction from The Queen that stole the show that afternoon.
For a lifetime she had perfected the art of stage-managing her public appearances, guarded and proper. But for that fleeting moment as Estimate galloped across the winning line, the ceremonial pomp was replaced by sheer unbridled joy and her smiling face couldn't mask that perfect sporting release.
"It's a special thrill for the Queen," said the winning trainer. "She said it gave her great pleasure and she thanked everyone involved."