The Queen will be greeted by a guard of honour of up to 40 jockeys who ride or have ridden her horses over the years at the Derby this year.
Some of the world’s best riders, past and present, will dress in her famous purple and gold silks to line up as she arrives at the historic event at Epsom Downs on June 4. While the monarch's attendance will only be confirmed on the day of the Classic, Hello! understands she is very keen to attend over her four-day Platinum Jubilee weekend of celebrations. The Queen has missed the Derby on only four occasions during her 70-year reign, with two of those absences due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
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Her Majesty currently has three horses entered in this year’s Cazoo Derby: Educator, General Idea and Reach For The Moon, raising the prospect of her first ever win in the world’s most prestigious flat race.
The Derby is the only one of the five "Classics" she has not won as a racehorse owner, although she finished second with Aureole just four days after her Coronation in 1953 and came third in 2011 with Carlton House.
Racing broadcaster Brough Scott told Hello!: "The thought of The Queen winning The Derby this year, of all the fairy-tale stories, that would be beyond it. It's a wonderful thought."
Also this year, in recognition of her contribution to the sport and her long association with The Derby, the Queen's Stand at Epsom Downs Racecourse will be permanently renamed The Queen Elizabeth II Stand ahead of the 243rd running of the Cazoo Derby.
The Queen is a huge fan of horse racing
The guard of honour will include 79-year-old four-time Derby winner Willie Carson, 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.
Speaking at the launch of The Jockey Club's plans for this year’s Cazoo Derby, Hayley said of the Queen's love of horseracing: "It's her passion and it's like a little treat for her. She has a lot on her plate and most of it she just has to deal with it, whereas this is just a joy for her."
Willie Carson, 79, who won The Oaks on Dunfermline for The Queen at Epsom Downs in 1977, her Silver Jubilee year, said: "When you put The Queen’s colours on, especially at Epsom, a jockey would grow six inches. The Queen is the most famous woman in the whole wide world, so you're privileged."
And John Reid, who rode for The Queen dozens of times in her famous silks said of appearing in the guard of honour: "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."
Willie Carson will form part of the guard of honour
More than 35,000 people are expected to pack the enclosures for this year's two-day event, with tens of thousands more expected to turn up on The Hill to watch for free.
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 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.
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