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First Royal Ascot Starters for Prince Charles

Prince Charles and Duchess of CornwallFor centuries it has been known as the sport of kings, yet for the past six decades at least, flat racing in Britain has been inextricably linked with the horse-devoted Queen.

This week, however, the Prince of Wales will prepare to restore the historic epithet as he saddles his first ever runners at Royal Ascot.

While he regularly attends the royal meeting as a spectator, the Prince has up till now left the serious business of top-level thoroughbred ownership to his highly knowledgeable mother.

But as he gears up to inherit her sizeable breeding and racing operation, the heir to the throne will this year cheer on two of his own horses, which will carry the red and blue silks with black cap he has jointly owned with the Duchess of Cornwall since 2006.

Three-year-old Carntop, lines up in the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes on Friday, for which he is currently second-favourite, while four-year-old Pacify contests the listed Wolferton Handicap on Saturday,

The pair are the only horses the Prince has in training, a fact that reflects his relative lack of interest in the sport compared to the lifelong enthusiasm of the Queen, who appeared to be enjoying the action as much as ever on a soggy opening day yesterday.

Although he rode in a small number of races as an amateur in the 1980s, including falling in a race at the Cheltenham Festival, the Prince has always been more closely associated with polo, from which he only retired in 2005, and hunting.

His 2006 re-entry into the sport was widely believed to be motivated by the Duchess, who has always been a keen racing fan.

The Prince’s mini string is dwarfed by the more than 30 thoroughbreds the Queen has in training, three of which run at Ascot today and a further four later in the meeting.

In the foreword to the official programme, she said her trips to the royal meeting were some of her most important memories.

“I have been deeply touched by the kind birthday wishes I have received this year and to have this milestone commemorated in the title of Royal Ascot’s centrepiece race, The Gold Cup," she said.

“Of my many memories, visits to Royal Ascot with my family are amongst the most cherished.”

Timeline | The Royals at Ascot

1711: Royal Ascot is founded by Queen Anne

1749: George II’s son the Duke of Cumberland establishes the Royal meeting as a Tuesday-to-Friday fixture

1825: The royal party makes the formal procession up the Straight Mile for the first time

1910: “Black Ascot” – race-goers dress in black to mourn the death of King Edward VII

2013: The Queen’s horse Estimate wins the Ascot Gold Cup, making her the first reigning monarch to win the two-and-a-half-mile showpiece

2016: For the first time, Prince Charles cheers on two of his own horses, which will carry his red and blue silks with black cap, as he prepares himself for inheriting his mother's sizeable breeding and racing operation

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