The Queen was in “tremendous form just a few days before she died and discussing “her love for her horses right to the very end”, according to her trusted bloodstock and racing adviser.
John Warren features in one of the most repeated TV clips of the last week, when the Queen beamed as her horse Estimate claimed victory in Royal Ascot’s Gold Cup in 2013 – the first time in the race’s 207-year history that it had been won by a reigning monarch.
Mr Warren has been an adviser to the Queen for more than 13 years and said he spent the weekend before the Queen died in Scotland, discussing her horses.
“We sat there for hours over the weekend strategising and making plans going forward.
“She was in such a healthy state of mind and in tremendous form."
Mr Warren said the Queen had seen a lot of the King and Queen Consort, who were also in Scotland, and was enjoying having different groups of family staying at Balmoral.
“She really loved having them right there with her and being able to talk about her horses and her love for her horses right to the very end,” he said.
“I left her on Monday afternoon, the prime ministers were coming in on the Tuesday, she had a winner on the Tuesday.
“On the Tuesday evening, she was in really good form, delighted she had had a winner, and talked about the prime ministers coming in and out, and I can hardly believe it possible that within less than 48 hours the Queen had died.
“Perhaps the racing community contributed to giving her some pleasure along the way.”
Mr Warren recalled that day at Ascot in 2013, saying her display of emotion was the culmination of a seven-year journey with Estimate, from before her birth.
“The footage you can see doesn’t actually show you the final two furlongs,” he said.
“And, as the filly passed the post, the elation from the Queen was absolutely wonderful.
“She had a really huge tear in her eye, in both her eyes."
Mr Warren recalled how the Queen “practically galloped” from the Royal Box to the unsaddling enclosure, despite being in her 80s, “carried” by the Ascot crowd.
“And in typical style of a horsewoman, although everyone was giving the Queen their congratulations, the Queen was absolutely steadfast to get to Estimate herself and give her a wonderful and well deserved pat,” he said.
“That was a hugely touching thing to witness, the Queen just focusing purely on this creature that had delivered for her. That was remarkable.”
Mr Warren said Estimate’s victory was one of the real highlights of the Queen’s long association with horse racing, along with her victory with Highclere, in the Prix de Diane, at Chantilly, in 1974.
He said: “The Queen has definitely been excited and emotionally charged about having some other winners – particularly at Ascot, where the eyes are on – but I think this one was one that was so satisfying because it is such an iconic race.”
But he said her interest in racing was as much about planning the journey of a horse over years as it was winning with legendary mounts.
“What I found totally remarkable about the Queen was her ability to get so much pleasure out of any horse, no matter what level that horse was able to achieve,” he said.
“If we had done our best, if we were able to get the equivalent of a D student a C grade with best endeavour, that itself was tremendous.”
He said: “The horse had the last word and that’s what was fascinating for the Queen.”
Mr Warren said she knew everybody in the racing industry, not only trainers, owners, stable staff and jockeys but also their families.
He said: “We’re all such fanatics and the Queen was in the club.”
The remarkable life of the Queen remembered in our latest episode of What You Need To Know