‘It’s bittersweet’: horse bred by The late Queen triumphs for King and Queen at Royal Ascot

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  • A hero was made at Royal Ascot today (22 June) in the form of the William Haggas-trained Desert Hero, who was bred by The late Queen, when he won the King George V Stakes under Tom Marquand for owners The King and Queen.

    The three-year-old chestnut colt is bred in the purple by Sea The Stars, out of Dubai mare Desert Breeze, and he got his nose in front on the line under a great ride by Tom, having been sent off at odds of 18/1.

    “This is genuinely one of the proudest moments of my life in the saddle so far,” said an emotional Tom. “I grew up watching horses win for Her late Majesty The Queen and to ride one for His Majesty the King is unbelievable. I’m in a dream world.

    “Royal Ascot is the pinnacle and riding a royal winner at the royal meeting is so special.”

    Desert Hero battled it out up the home straight in the latter stages of the 1m3f race alongside Valiant King, under Oisin Murphy for trainer Joseph O’Brien and owner Qatar Racing Limited, and eventually won by a head.

    “I wasn’t always confident we were going to get there and win but this fella was supremely game and the Haggas team get it right time and time again,” said Tom.

    Zara Tindall, The King’s niece, said: “It’s bittersweet – just think how proud and excited our grandmother The Queen would have been. But for Charles and Camilla to have a winner keeps the dream alive.

    “What a race – it was incredible. Fulfilling the dream is amazing and the horses are at the centre of it – we love them.”

    William Haggas said that to win for The King and Queen was “a great honour”.

    “I thought Desert Hero and Tom were going to be more forward, but the other runners went a bit fast and ultimately he stayed on really well – it was the horse’s first time running over a mile and a half,” he said.

    “The King and Queen have been looking forward to Royal Ascot for a long time and they are delighted. It’s important for horse racing and it’s important that they enjoy it.”

    Don’t miss the full report from Royal Ascot 2023 in the 29 June issue of Horse & Hound magazine, plus we will be bringing you all the top stories from the meeting as and when they happen on horseandhound.co.uk

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