How Peggy the Shetland pony sparked the Queen's passion for horses

  • Report from ITV Meridian's Charlotte Briere-Edney

The Queen's biggest passion, and life-long hobby, was well-known to be horses.

Her Majesty bred and raced them for more than 60 years.

She loved nothing more than attending the race meetings at Newbury and Ascot - places that held so many happy memories for her.

The Queen first attended Royal Ascot over 70 years ago.

  • The Queen and young Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret look towards the camera and smile at Royal Ascot in 1940. (Courtesy of British Pathe)

It's an event she absolutely loved, and she enjoyed 71 winners at the famous racecourse.

The Queen would attend the event every June, making the short journey from her home in Windsor for the annual race gathering.

Each day of the week would begin with the Royal Procession, when The Queen would always arrive along the track in horse-drawn landaus, accompanied by Members of the Royal Family.

They then spend the day watching the races from the Royal Enclosure. 

But horses were a passion of the Queen's throughout her life, even as a child.

The Queen bred and raced horses for more than 60 years. Credit: PA

The Queen was given a Shetland pony as a birthday present from her grandfather King George V when she turned four in 1930.

It is that pony which sparked the then young Princess Elizabeth's love of horses. Over the coming years, she developed a lifelong relationship with the riding community.

John Warren who's based at Highclere near Newbury, held the prestigious position of Bloodstock and Racing Advisor to the Queen.

He said: "I think it's the Queen's only private hobby.

"Something that takes her away from her commitment and her duties"

The Queen's biggest passion and life-long hobby was known to be horses. Credit: PA

In a statement a spokesperson for Ascot Racecourse said: "The nation mourns the loss of a much loved and respected Monarch. The world of racing has lost one of its greatest supporters.

"We at Ascot are privileged to have so many memories of Her Majesty The Queen at this her racecourse, including some wonderful victories in the Royal colours.

"We offer our deepest sympathies to His Majesty The King and the whole Royal Family." 

Chairman of Newbury Racecourse, Dominic Burke said: “The nation mourns the loss of a much loved and respected Monarch. Throughout her life, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was a figurehead for British Horseracing and we are honoured to have so many memories of her here at the racecourse, including multiple winners in the Royal colours.

"I can express the deep gratitude of myself and all at Newbury Racecourse for her unwavering support for, and appreciation of, British racing over many decades.

"Our heartfelt condolences to His Majesty The King and the Royal family."