FIT FOR A QUEEN
April 5, 2023
The $5 million Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes is a race with rich history and plenty of big name winners including the mighty mare Winx.
This year the race celebrates its 70th running at Royal Randwick on The Championships Day 2 – Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes Day.
Queen Elizabeth II sadly passed away last September, but the iconic Royal Randwick race named in her honour lives on, this year celebrating its 70th anniversary as another piece of its rich tapestry unfolds.
And the man who presided over Her Majesty’s racing empire has spoken of the Queen’s deep affection for the race which has carried her name.
The Group 1 Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes has featured some of the most famous moments in Australian racing history, for starters being the swansong for legendary gallopers such as Winx, Octagonal and Lonhro.
As the Australian Turf Club prepares to unfurl the party streamers and celebrate the 70th anniversary of the race on 8 April, the late Queen Elizabeth II’s racing manager John Warren revealed the special place the race held in her heart.
Mr Warren, who oversaw Her Majesty’s racing and breeding interests and is now racing manager to King Charles and the Queen Consort, made it clear Queen Elizabeth II had always been deeply interested and fascinated by the race.
“It would be fair to say the Queen was acutely aware of the importance of this race,” Mr Warren said.
“I’m also sure she was very proud, in her understated way, of knowing that this was not only a race named in her honour but also understanding the great importance of the race.
“This race attracts the very best quality of horses over this trip in Australia and, as a consequence, it is not just a race but it is a very important and extremely prestigious race.
“Her Majesty knew very well the quality of horses who ran in this race and who won this race each year and how the race stood the test of time.
“The Queen had such a deep interest in racing and that certainly wasn’t just restricted to what was around her (in Britain).
“She had a big appetite and interest in thoroughbreds and everything they stood for, so racing in Australia was watched and observed by her very closely.
“She also had a broad interest in how Australian training methods were undertaken, versus what she had known by having horses trained in United Kingdom.”
The much-loved Queen, who passed away at age 96 last September, visited Australia in 1954 and was on track at Randwick that year when roughie Blue Ocean won the race at $33-1.
The Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes has since featured many iconic moments including a breath-taking win by Ming Dynasty in 1978 who demolished his opposition by a record winning margin of 13 lengths.
A couple of decades later, the legendary Might And Power put paid to his rivals by 10-and-a-half lengths.
Trainer Jack Denham generally refused to talk to the media but was so taken by his horse’s swashbuckling win that day he quickly admitted Might And Power was clearly “the best horse I’ve trained.’’
The legendary George Moore has been the king of the jockeys in the race, scoring six wins including three on the extraordinary Tulloch.
In more recent years the wonder mare of a lifetime Winx called the Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes her own with three consecutive wins.
No-one who was on track at Royal Randwick or who watched on TV will ever forget her farewell race when she pulled down the curtains on her incredible career by winning her 33rd consecutive race in 2019.
English raider Addeybb wrote another exhilarating moment of Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes history when scoring consecutive wins in 2020 and 2021.
Enter Nash Rawiller who produced one of the rides of the century in the race last year, going down in racing folklore.
Jaws dropped everywhere when Rawiller steered Kerry Parker-trained roughie Think It Over on a unique path right down the outside to score an amazing win.
“I reckon it would go down as one of the highlights of my career,” Rawiller said afterwards.
“When you put your arse on the line and it comes off, it’s always a big thrill, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a midweek race or one of Sydney’s biggest races.
“It was complete spur of the moment.”
So who will write their name into history this year and win the first edition of the race since the Queen has passed?
Nine-time Group 1 winner Anamoe for Godolphin and ridden by James McDonald will bid farewell with this being the champion’s last race in Australia.
Godolphin’s Australian Managing Director Vin Cox is acutely aware of the importance of the great race and what it would mean for Anamoe to triumph.
“It was an inspired move for racing administrators to come up with ‘The Championships’ concept and this race was elevated to its rightful place as the premier event over a mile and a quarter at the end of the carnival,” Mr Cox said.
“A lot of money was ploughed into it, and rightly so as it’s a magnificent race.
“It’s been a race that can draw on so many different formlines leading into it and it’s always a great contest and an intriguing one.”
Anamoe will be the betting and sentimental favourite, all going well, in the Longines Queen Elizabeth this year.
But he won’t have it all his own way as the world is coming to take him on.
There will be a Japanese flavour in the $5 million race with classy galloper Unicorn Lion one of the latest international raiders.
Unicorn Lion’s trainer Yoshito Yahagi will add unmistakeable flair and colour when he waltzes into Royal Randwick wearing his trademark cowboy hat.
But he also has substance to go with his style, having famously won the 2019 Cox Plate with Lys Gracieux.
Dubai Honour to be ridden by Tom Marquand is another big danger and is trained by English genius William Haggas who twice scored with Addeybb.
It all adds up to another compelling contest as the 2023 Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes prepares to leave another fabulous imprint in the hearts and minds of racing fans.
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