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Queen takes gold in final furlong of Pacific tour

March 19, 2006
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While several members of her family were enjoying the excitement of the Cheltenham Festival back home in Britain, the Queen was likewise taking in some equine fun halfway across the world in the South China Sea. Her Majesty's week-long visit to Australia and Singapore came to an end on Saturday when she presented champion jockey Richard Lim with his trophy after he won the appropriately titled Queen Elizabeth II chase at Singapore's racecourse.

The previous day she and her husband Prince Philip received a rapturous welcome from 400 cheering schoolchildren when they paid a visit to the national library. The royal couple, who were staying at the lavish Raffles Hotel, which was built in 1887 and declared a national monument 100 years later, took time to chat with many of the youngsters who turned out to greet them.

Once inside the majestic building they viewed an exhibition of photographs taken by some of Singapore's aspiring snappers. "I was surprised to find the Queen is actually a very friendly person," said 18-year-old Alvina Tan afterwards. "I felt very relaxed around her when she asked about my picture. She feels just like a grandmother to me."

The sovereign was also treated to a lavish state banquet when she arrived at the colonial-era presidential palace. The Southeast Asian country's head of state, President SR Nathan, was among the politicians and dignitaries in attendance to hear the monarch pay tribute to their country's long-standing friendship with the UK. "We are natural partners in so many ways," she said. "And I firmly believe this will continue and strengthen in the years ahead."

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Photo: ©
Her Majesty shares a toast with President SR Nathan during a banquet in Singapore's Presidential Palace. The monarch paid tribute to the country as an example of excellence in AsiaPhoto: © AFPy
Photo: ©
Jockey Richard Lim receives his trophy after winning the Queen Elizabeth II chase. The race was first staged 34 years ago when the monarch made another visitPhoto: © AFP

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