A line-up of 40 retired and current jockeys who have all worn her purple and gold silks will be formed on the track to greet her arrival at the world’s most prestigious flat race, which this year will celebrate her contribution to horseracing during the Platinum Jubilee celebrations on June 4.
The Queen’s Stand, opened by her in 1992, will be renamed The Queen Elizabeth II Stand as a permanent reminder of her passion for the sport in time for the race, which is expected to attract a bumper crowd of more than 100,000 and an even bigger betting bonanza than normal if one of the 96-year-old monarch’s three potential horses entered for the race is confirmed to be a runner and in with a decent chance.
Race organizers are praying that the monarch, who has struggled with mobility problems and other health issues, will be well enough to attend. Aides have predicted it will be top of her priorities during the double bank holiday jubilee weekend celebrating her 70 years on the throne.
The welcoming party of jockeys will include four-time Derby winner Willie Carson, 79, who also rode the Queen’s Oaks winner Dunfermline in 1977, and John Reid, who won the Derby in 1992.
Current riders joining the line-up will include Frankie Dettori and Ryan Moore, both of whom have won the Derby twice, and another of the Queen’s regular jockeys, Hayley Turner.
The Queen has three horses currently entered in the race – Educator, General Idea and Reach For The Moon – and she will be hoping she can break her Derby duck.
The race remains the only one of the five British horseracing Classics she is yet to win as a racehorse owner. The closest she came was in 1953 when her horse Aureole finished second in 1953 just four days after her Coronation. She also came third in 2011 with Carlton House, her 10th runner in the race and the last horse to contest the Derby in her colors.
A victory for her would be only the second time a reigning monarch has won the Derby after Edward VII’s success with Minoru in 1909.
The Jockey Club, which manages the racecourse, expects a 35,000 capacity crowd in the ticketed enclosures with thousands more watching from free enclosures on what is known locally as The Hill.
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 honor 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 honor 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.”
Mr White added: “As well as her amazing association with horseracing and horses, the Queen also has a special relationship with The Derby. She has only missed four since her Coronation and two of those were in the last two years during the pandemic.
“To permanently recognize this we are renaming The Queen’s Stand as The Queen Elizabeth II Stand. A plaque to recognize this will be unveiled on a community night at the racecourse on Thursday June 2.”