PHOTOS - Queen Elizabeth II's historic visit to Ireland photo gallery

On her recent visit to Ireland, Queen Elizabeth indulged her passion for racehorses with private visits to several Irish Studs including Gilmore where she lunched with the Aga Khan.

She also publicly visited the Irish National Stud to view the legendry Invincible Spirit, who I am told was impeccably behaved as always!

The Queen was extremely gracious and particularly nice to the young trainee jockeys which delighted the staff who were already honoured at having been chosen for a royal visit. While closed to the public for security reasons during the visit it is now business as usual and highly recommended as one of Irelands great days out.

The Irish National Stud in the rich green heartlands of County Kildare is where many of the great legends of international horseracing have been born and bred since 1906. And while big names like Arkle, Prince Palatine, l’Escargot and Dawn Run might trip off our tongues in a mixture of pride and pleasure for what is after all a national passion, how many of us would actually know one end (the important one) of a thoroughbred from the other?

Well, a visit to the Irish National Stud will sort that one for you and it’s far from being a sterile museum experience? This is a working stud with mares being brought in daily to be covered(what a nice word for it)by stallions like Invincible Spirit which costs €60,000 a pop! Do try and take one of the tours as the insider tips and tales are fascinating and while poor old Arkle is on display as a skeleton other former champions such as Vintage Crop, who won the prestigious Melbourne Cup in 1993,are to be seen out ambling about in sunny meadows enjoying their well earned retirement...

For more information visit

Susan Byron author of

PHOTOS - Queen Elizabeth II's historic visit to Ireland photo gallery