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Royal riders to welcome the Queen as Epsom reveals Derby day plans

A guard of honour comprised of retired and current royal riders will greet the Queen when she arrives at Epsom on Derby day.

Her Majesty celebrates her Platinum Jubilee this year and the Cazoo-backed Classic on June 4 is part of the official celebrations on an extended Bank Holiday weekend.

As well as The Queen’s Stand being permanently renamed The Queen Elizabeth II Stand, the Jockey Club is lining up a welcoming party of jockeys who have ridden for Her Majesty during their careers.

Dunfermline won the 1977 Oaks
Dunfermline won the 1977 Oaks (PA)

Willie Carson, who rode Dunfermline to win the Oaks for the Queen in 1977, will be among those donning the royal silks, along with John Reid, Frankie Dettori, Ryan Moore and Hayley Turner.

Dunfermline’s Classic success came in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee and Carson 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.

“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.”

Reid, who enjoyed Derby success with Dr Devious in 1992, first rode for the Queen while still an apprentice jockey and wore the famous silks on many occasions.

Speaking about lining up in the guard of honour, he said: “It’ll be pretty special. It’s something I’m looking forward to.

“I always come to the Derby anyway, but it’s going to be a very special occasion this year. I think there will be a big turnout from that point of view, a lot of people are going to want to be here.

“I’m expecting a big turnout and I’m sure it will happen.”

Pour Moi (centre) scuppered Carlton House's Derby bid
Pour Moi (centre) scuppered Carlton House’s Derby bid (Steve Parsons/PA)

The Derby remains the only British Classic the Queen has yet to win, having finished second with Aureole in 1953 just four days after her Coronation and third in 2011 with Carlton House

Her Majesty currently has three horses entered in this year’s race in Educator, General Idea and Reach For The Moon.

The permanent renaming of the The Queen’s Stand will take place on June 2, the day before the Derby meeting kicks off, with the June 3 card highlighted by the Cazoo Oaks.

Officials are anticipating a capacity crowd of more than 35,000 people in the ticketed enclosures at the track, with many more expected to take their place in the free enclosures on what is known locally as The Hill.

Epsom is anticipating a capacity crowd
Epsom is anticipating a capacity crowd (Simon Cooper/PA)

Phil White, London regional director at the Jockey Club, said: “We are absolutely delighted that this year’s Cazoo Derby will be a part of the official Platinum Jubilee celebrations and excited and proud to be able to take the opportunity to thank Her Majesty The Queen for her enormous contribution to horseracing over many, many years.

“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 to mark the occasion 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.

Epsom is also planning a Jubilee Family Festival, which will feature a main stage on The Hill and activities for various ages to enjoy.

White explained: “We have more than 35,000 tickets in our paid enclosures on the racecourse side, but then there will be tens of thousands more on The Hill, and it’s free to walk on there, so we’re expecting a big crowd. It really is what makes the event unique – the atmosphere, the energy and the people out there are all amazing.”

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