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05 Oct 2022

Racing pauses and pays tribute to the Queen to mark state funeral

Racing pauses and pays tribute to the Queen to mark state funeral

Racing came to a standstill on Monday for the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.

Sport across the United Kingdom was called off, with race meetings originally scheduled at Leicester, Warwick, Hamilton Park and Wolverhampton cancelled after the funeral date was announced, as Britons paid their final respects to the Queen.

Hundreds of thousands of well-wishers flocked to London and lined the route through the capital to say their last goodbyes, while millions around the globe watched proceedings on TV.

More than 2,000 world leaders, national figures from UK life, and leading individuals attended the Westminster Abbey funeral that saw the Prince and Princess of Wales bring their children Prince George and Princess Charlotte to experience the event.

King Charles III sat at the head of the family, with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex nearby, after more than a week leading the monarchy and the nation in mourning his mother the Queen.

The Queen’s children had walked behind her coffin when it was carried on a gun carriage from Westminster Hall, where the late monarch had been lying in state for four days, to the state funeral at the Abbey.

The Archbishop of Canterbury described the Queen as having touched “a multitude of lives” and being a “joyful” figure for many, telling the mourners: “People of loving service are rare in any walk of life. Leaders of loving service are still rarer.

“But in all cases those who serve will be loved and remembered when those who cling to power and privileges are forgotten.

“The grief of this day – felt not only by the late Queen’s family but all round the nation, Commonwealth and world – arises from her abundant life and loving service, now gone from us.

“She was joyful, present to so many, touching a multitude of lives.”

In a personal touch, the wreath adorning the Queen’s coffin had a handwritten note, which was penned by the King.

The message said: “In loving and devoted memory.”

The coffin then began its final journey to Windsor Castle, travelling from the Abbey to Wellington Arch at the corner of Hyde Park, before being transferred into a hearse for the journey to St George’s Chapel.

A number of racing figures were in attendance at the Abbey, including the Queen’s racing manager John Warren, who on Saturday described the Queen’s “remarkable ability to get so much pleasure out of any horse, no matter what level that horse was able to achieve”.

He continued: “If we had done our best, if we were able to get the equivalent of a D student a C grade with best endeavour, that itself was tremendous.

“The horse had the last word and that’s what was fascinating for the Queen.”

Australian trainer Gai Waterhouse was also among the mourners, although fellow handler Chris Waller could not make the trip due to Covid-related issues.

The Queen was intrinsically linked with racing, having enjoyed high-profile success as both an owner and breeder, with Estimate’s Gold Cup victory at Royal Ascot in 2013 sparking famously joyous scenes.

Many in the racing world have paid tribute to the Queen since her death on September 8, but trainer Venetia Williams offered her own special memory of Her Majesty before the funeral.

Posted alongside a Susan Crawford portrait of the Queen on Instagram, Williams said: “Susan and I sat down for a magical few minutes with Her Majesty at Windsor after Sandown’s military meeting last March.

“To be blessed with a flourish of that sparkling smile and enchanting laugh will remain a cherished memory of a delightful exchange that we shared with our remarkable late monarch.”

Fellow handler Rebecca Curtis also reflected on the Queen meeting former stable star Teaforthree in 2014 on a visit to Cotts Farm Equine Hospital in Narbeth, Wales.

Curtis tweeted: “Thank you for all of your many years of loyal service. We will always remember the day you visited and met Teaforthree, who you once called ‘your most favourite steeplechaser’ Rest in peace Your Majesty.”

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