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‘Amazing’ morning for nervy Paul Nicholls as The Queen visits Ditcheat

Thu 28 Mar 2019
Her Majesty with Cheltenham winner Topofthegame
Her Majesty with Cheltenham winner Topofthegame

Paul Nicholls joked he was more nervous than before the Cheltenham Festival as he welcomed The Queen to his Ditcheat yard.

The champion trainer elect paraded six of his stable stars – including Ryanair Chase hero Frodon and RSA Chase victor Topofthegame – as Her Majesty visited Manor Farm Stables to begin a series of equine-related engagements in Somerset on Thursday.

Nicholls’ eight-year-old daughter Zara presented The Queen with a posy, while on what he described as an “amazing” morning, he gave Her Majesty a framed black-and-white photograph of the Queen Mother handing him the 1987 Hennessy Gold Cup trophy.

“It was a fantastic experience to bring Her Majesty to the yard and meet the superstar horses,” he said.

“I was more nervous about today than I was about the Cheltenham Festival.

“She loved seeing the horses, and gave them all a carrot, and she knew as much about them as we do.

“She saw them run at Cheltenham, and she knows what she is talking about and loved feeding them.

“I have been lucky enough to meet the Queen several times, and she is obviously a racing enthusiast.”

Her Majesty feeds Politologue a carrot
Her Majesty feeds Politologue a carrot

The Queen has enjoyed plenty of success as an owner, counting Gold Cup winner Estimate and Hardwicke Stakes victor Dartmouth among her more high-profile Flat representatives in recent seasons.

She also has jumpers in training with Nicky Henderson and Charlie Longsdon, and Nicholls added: “I jokingly said to the Queen that box one is currently empty and we have space for one of her horses.”

During the visit Her Majesty heard from Professor Keith Stokes and Dr Dario Cazzola, from the University of Bath’s Department for Health, who presented their new project with the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) focusing on spinal injury reduction for jockeys.

This research builds on previous injury prevention work within rugby union.

The Queen also learnt about the work of Dr Ben Metcalfe, who is developing a sensor platform for race horses that would give trainers and veterinary professionals more accurate, reliable, real-time data on equine fitness and well-being.

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