‘He was such fun’ – racing pays tribute to Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh

The Queen and Prince Philip at the head of the royal procession at Royal Ascot Chris Jackson (Getty Images)

By Julian Muscat and Peter Scargill

Racing united to pay its respects to Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who died on Friday aged 99 and left his mark on the sport as consort to the Queen for seven decades.

Jockeys wore black armbands and flags were flown at half-mast at Aintree, where a two-minute silence was also held before racing for a man respected for his equestrian knowledge and skills, notably in polo and carriage driving.

An honorary member of the Jockey Club since 1947, Prince Philip never took an active role in racing as an owner but was a constant companion to the Queen at the Derby and Royal Ascot, where the Duke of Edinburgh Handicap was named after him.

Despite racing being the Queen’s great passion, her racing and bloodstock adviser John Warren recalled Prince Philip taking a fulsome interest in the horses and breeding, as well as accompanying the Queen on numerous racing-related visits.

He said: “Prince Philip was a much greater support to the Queen in her racing endeavors than many people realize. His Royal Highness followed Her Majesty’s involvement as an owner and breeder very closely, and willingly accompanied the Queen to the Derby and Royal Ascot every year. Not long ago Prince Philip attended a dress rehearsal for the Trooping of the Colour first thing in the morning but still travelled from London to Epsom to meet up with the Queen on Derby day.

“Prince Philip accompanied Her Majesty on so many trips, including to Kentucky where he was totally fascinated by all the stallions we saw. He also very much enjoyed spending a number of days with us when Her Majesty stayed with Alec Head at his Haras du Quesnay to view the French stallions in Normandy.

“Whenever I visited Sandringham to look at horses with the Queen, Prince Philip always asked on our return how the yearlings and foals were developing. He was also a man of impeccable manners. On one occasion I had a long phone call, at the end of which I realized he had been waiting patiently to say goodbye before he went back to London. And he became a rather animated ‘armchair jockey’ with great knowledge when watching some of the Queen’s horses running on television.

 

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