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The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee will be marked by a special tribute from the world of racing – past and present jockeys who have ridden for her forming a guard of honour on Derby day.
Leading rider Frankie Dettori and Willie Carson – who has ridden some of the Queen’s most memorable winners – are expected to line part of the Epsom Derby course with up to 40 others when she arrives.
Organisers hope the Queen, who has been experiencing mobility issues, will attend the Derby with her family during national celebrations during the extended June bank holiday weekend.
Thoroughbreds owned by the Queen have won four out of the five flat racing classics – the 1,000 Guineas and 2,000 Guineas, the Oaks and the St Leger – with only the Derby eluding her, but three of her horses have so far been entered for the race – Reach For The Moon, Educator and General Idea.
The Jockey Club has announced that a few days before the Derby is run the Queen’s Stand at Epsom Downs Racecourse will be renamed the Queen Elizabeth II Stand, in recognition of her contribution to horseracing and her long association with the Derby.
The Queen’s horse Dunfermline, ridden by Carson, gave the Queen her most famous victory, triumphing in the Oaks and St Leger in her Silver Jubilee year 1977.
The former jockey, who has ridden many times for the Queen, said: “When you put the Queen’s colours on, especially at Epsom, a jockey would grow six inches. It makes you feel important when you put those colours on.
“The Queen is the most famous woman in the whole wide world, so you’re privileged.
“She’s the patron of racing. Without her we would be a little bit lost, because her patronage is a very valuable thing.”
Carson, who won the Derby four times, added: “It’s not just the horseracing she enjoys, she enjoys the breeding side of it. She likes to know from trainers how the horse is behaving and its attitude, its temperament. She wants to know those things. That’s what she’s really interested in.
“The winning post is the end result and she enjoys that, of course, but she enjoys everything before you get to the winning post. That gives her the most pleasure.”
Before the pandemic the Queen had only missed two Derby meets, but she did not attend the 2020 event, when the race was held behind closed doors, and the following year, which had a limited number of racegoers.
Phil White, London regional director at the Jockey Club, said: “We know that the Queen intends to be with us on the day and to mark her arrival at the racecourse we will form a guard of honour of around 40 retired and current jockeys all dressed in Her Majesty’s silks.
“We’re also inviting members of the local community and some local charities to support the guard of honour as flag bearers.
“Derby Day always has that spectacular carnival atmosphere and we’re looking forward to a display from the Red Devils and a military band’s performance of the national anthem, which will all add to a wonderful occasion.”
Other plans include the unveiling of 15 special hats created by milliners in association with the British Hat Guild, which will be auctioned in aid of Brain Tumour Research.