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King Charles and Queen celebrate first winner at Royal Ascot after dramatic finish

<i>Chris Jackson/Getty Images</i><br/>King Charles II and Queen Camilla watch their horse
Chris Jackson/Getty Images
King Charles II and Queen Camilla watch their horse

By Ben Church, CNN

(CNN) — Desert Hero and jockey Tom Marquand produced a thrilling performance at Royal Ascot on Thursday to land King Charles III his first win at the prestigious horse racing festival.

Both King Charles and his wife, Queen Camilla, watched as Desert Hero stormed up the finishing straight to squeeze out an historic win in the King George V Stakes, pipping Valiant King at the line.

The win was cheered by the thousands of fans at Royal Ascot as cameras showed both the King and Queen celebrating in the royal box.

The pair then walked into the winner’s enclosure to congratulate Desert Hero and Marquand, before picking up their trophy as the winning owners.

The horse racing festival had become synonymous with the late Queen Elizabeth II who had 24 Royal Ascot winners.

The late Queen had a passion for horse racing and loved attending the royal event held once every year.

While her influence on the sport will always be remembered, organisers were keen to usher in a new era under the new monarch and Desert Hero upset the odds to provide just that.

The horse was not among the favorites at odds of 18-1 but finished with incredible speed up the finishing straight.

“Genuinely, probably one of the proudest moments of being in the saddle so far,” an emotional Marquand told ITV Racing after the race.

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

King Charles will have more chances to add to his winning haul with five royal horses still to run at the festival, which ends on Saturday.

“The King and Queen are absolutely thrilled,” winning trainer William Haggas told ITV Racing.

“They have been looking forward to Ascot for a long time and wanting to have as many runners as possible, and I think they are absolutely delighted.

“It is obviously very important for racing, but it is important that the King and Queen enjoy it, which they clearly appear to do, and long may that continue.”

Zara Tindall, one of Queen Elizabeth II’s granddaughters who is at the festival, told ITV Racing: “I just think how excited my grandmother would have been.

“To have a winner for Charles and Camilla and to keep that dream alive was incredible, and what a race – aside all of that, what a race.

“I think it is a new excitement [for The King], like all those owners who come here and have a horse here, having that dream, that hope, and actually fulfilling it is incredible.

“Horses are the main game here and that’s why we get involved. We love them, the competition, and that adrenaline when you win is indescribable.”

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