The first Saturday in June each year sees the running of the Derby, the fourth of the five Classic races of the British flat racing season.
The race, regarded as the most prestigious in the British racing calendar, is held annually at Epsom Downs Racecourse, just under 15 miles from central London, and is only open to three year old colts. ‘Derby Day’ always attracts a very large crowd of enthusiastic spectators, many of whom are able to watch the event for free from the racecourse infield.
Traditionally, The Queen and members of the Royal Family attends the event each year and it is regarded as part of the London Season. In 2012, Derby Day formed part of the official celebrations for the Diamond Jubilee Central Weekend.
After one of the coldest springs on record, the weather forecast for Derby Day was good and the sun was shining by the time the Queen and members of her family arrived at Epsom Downs. The Royal Party drove up the course to the accompaniment of loud applause and then stepped from their cars at the entrance to the Queen’s Stand.
The Queen was dressed in a mint green coat by Karl Ludwig Couture and a matching hat decorated with a black feather. She carried a black handbag and wore low-heeled black shoes. A diamond flower brooch was pinned to her coat and a pearl necklace was just visible at the neckline. Her Majesty was accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, who was dressed in a black morning suit and wore a cream rosebud in his buttonhole.
The Duke of York was present with his daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie. This was the second outing of the week for the Duke and his daughters, who had all been present at the Garden Party that the Queen held at Buckingham Palace on Thursday. The two Princesses are keen race-goers, have previously attended both the Derby and Royal Ascot.
Both Princesses were dressed in short-sleeved outfits and so it was just as well as that Derby Day was one of the warmest days we have had for some time.Princess Beatrice was dressed in a black and white long-line coat, which was cut to reveal a glimpse of a knee-length black skirt. Somewhat unusually, she chose a plum cloche-style hat pulled well-down over her head. She carried a clutch bag in a matching shade of plum and wore a black metallic studded belt and black shoes with high heels.
Princess Eugenie wore a narrow-belted dress in an abstract pattern of muted taupe and slate blue on a pale background. It had a full skirt with a wide-cut boat neck, which ran down almost to her shoulder points. She carried a matching slate blue clutch bag and wore a coolie-style straw hat in taupe together with high-heeled nude shoes with a medium platform.
After leaving their cars, the members of the royal party paused at the entrance to the stands for the National Anthem, which was sung by The Military Wives Choir, accompanied by the band of the Royal Marines. After meeting Rupert Trevelyan and other officials from Epsom Downs Race Course, the Queen and her party went to the Royal Box in the Queen’s Stand to watch the racing. The Royal Standard was raised to show that her Majesty was present.
Princess Haya of Jordan, wearing a red dress, accessorised with a wide-brimmed black and white hat and a black and white bag and shoes, was also present, accompanying her husband His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai.
Sheikh Mohammed, the founder of Godolphin, the Maktoum family’s thoroughbred racing stable, was at Epsom to see his horse, Dawn Approach, run in the Derby. He has been trying to win this race for the last 30 years, but has so far been unsuccessful. However, Princess Haya is no stranger to Derby victory, as her horse New Approach won the race in 2008.
Derby success has so far also proved elusive for the Queen. This year, Her Majesty did not have a runner. Her best result was in 1953, when her horse Aureole was second. The Queen’s most recent runner was in 2011, when her horse Carlton House came third.
The Royal Family watched the race from the Royal Box. Also present with them was Sir Michael Oswald, the former manager of the Royal Studs. Sir Michael was the Queen Mother’s racing manager from 1970 until her death in 2002 and now advises Her Majesty. His wife, Lady Angela, was a Lady-in-Waiting to Queen Elizabeth.
The race was won by the lightly-raced Ruler Of The World, the winner of last month’s Group 3 Chester Vase, one of the recognised ‘Derby Trials’. Ruler Of The World provided trainer Aidan O’Brien with his fourth Derby win and maintained his unbeaten record at Epsom with jockey Ryan Moore. The Elaine Burke-trained Libertarian put in a late run and seemed to be catching Ruler Of The World with every stride to finish second. The favourite, Sheikh Mohammed’s Dawn Approach, was well beaten, coming in second-to-last.