The Queen is said to name all of her horses herself, and many of them are quite clever. Among them is Canisbay, winner of the 1965 Eclipse Stakes. Canisbay was a son of the Queen’s stallion Doutelle out of a mare named Stroma. Canisbay overlooks the Isle of Stroma, in the Pentland Firth off the north-east coast of Scotland between John o’ Groats and the Orkneys. The Queen Mother attended services at Canisbay church when staying at her Scottish home, the Castle of Mey.
Another example was Charlton, winner of the 1971 Henry II Stakes. Born in 1967, the year after England’s World Cup triumph, he was named after the brothers Jack and Bobby Charlton. The horse’s dam (mother) was named Ibrox, home of Glasgow Rangers, and her father was called Big Game.
The Queen’s 1974 1,000 Guineas winner Highclere was named simply after the stud where she was foaled. Highclere followed her Guineas victory by giving her owner her greatest success on foreign soil with a hugely popular triumph in the Prix de Diane (the French Oaks) at Chantilly.
Highclere became the dam of Height Of Fashion, winner of the May Hill Stakes and Fillies’ Mile as a two-year-old, and who broke the course record when winning Newmarket’s Princess of Wales’s Stakes at three. More importantly, however, Height Of Fashion was sold for £1.2 million to Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum and went on to produce the great champion racehorse Nashwan, winner of the 2,000 Guineas, Derby, Eclipse and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes in the summer of 1989.
That same year, the Queen’s colt Unknown Quantity provided her with a rare American triumph by winning the Arlington Handicap at Arlington Park in Chicago.
Ten years later, it was an American jockey, Gary Stevens, who steered the Queen’s Blueprint to a Royal Ascot success in the Duke of Edinburgh Handicap.